An owner of Romano’s Jewelers has been charged by California’s Attorney General with targeting members of the armed forces with predatory and illegal credit policies.
Ramil Abalkhad, owner of Romano’s Jewelers, and wife Melina Abalkhad, owner of MBNB Financial Inc., were charged with conspiracy to engage in unlawful debt collection and unlawful consumer financing. Ramil Abalkhad was also charged with a check-kiting scheme involving the store’s bank accounts.
A criminal complaint filed in September in Los Angeles County alleges that the Abalkhads targeted young marines and sailors, encouraging the purchase of jewelry using MBNB Financial for credit. The store often failed to provide legally required disclosures about monthly payments, interest rates, and other terms of financing, it adds.
In perhaps the most startling charge, the Attorney General alleges that the businesses invented an attorney, “Thomas Parker,” to collect debts from service members. The fictitious Parker threatened nonpayers with court marshals and other disciplinary action, the complaint says. An MBNB employee, Ramiro Salinas. has also been charged with conspiracy to engage in unlawful debt collection.
Ramil Abalkhad has previously been charged with identity theft for allegedly instructing two employees to use service members’ Social Security numbers to add unauthorized charges to their store credit accounts. In February, he reportedly pled guiltily to three charges and received probation.
The Abalkhads could not be reached for comment.