News 4 investigates online auction bilking thousands from customers

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by Chris Nagus / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on July 30, 2013 at 11:35 AM

(KMOV) -- Customers of a small Illinois business say they were bilked for thousands of dollars after their involvement with an online auction.

Jim Raitmaier of Wisconsin says he discovered an offer by Liberty Trading of Vandalia, Illinois through a website called proxibid.com. Raitmaier says, "it seemed like a really good deal."

The Wisconsin man tells News 4 he purchased a large quantity of silver but hasn't received $91,000 in product. He says he's been waiting since February.

Corey Miller of Arthur, Illinois claims he also purchased silver through Liberty Trading, but several months later still hasn't received more than $24,000 in silver.

Mike Flower of Colorado tells News 4 he's out nearly $70,000, another buyer in Greenville, South Carolina claims he's out $4,000.

The Better Business Bureau of St. Louis is reviewing 11 complaints where consumers are collectively owed $203,000 after paying for products that were never delivered by Liberty Trading.

The Vandalia, Illinois business sells guns, gold and silver and is located in a small storefront along the town's Main Street. Sam Flowers and Sean Cook run the business; both say they're concerned about the claims raised by customers.  

Flowers told News 4 "we're not hiding from anyone, not going anywhere we're going to fight it."

Both owners tell News 4 the problem involves Transfirst, the company that processes their credit card transactions.

Flowers said, "the only reason we are a risk now is because this company has made us a risk." The men claim Transfirst is holding $100,000 of their money because trading gold and silver is considered "high risk" by the processing company.

 Flowers and Cook claim the money held by Transfirst is reserve money that will be locked up for months to cover potential refunds for any unsatisfied customers.  

 According to a Transfirst attorney, the processing company is not currently holding any of Liberty Trading's money in reserve. 

In an April email provided by Sean Cook, Transfirst acknowledged a $100,000 reserve involving Liberty Trading. The attorney representing Transfirst tells News 4 that money has already been used to cover refunds for unsatisfied customers of Liberty Trading.

Cook also tells News 4 the $90,000 amount involving Jim Raitmaier is in dispute. Cook expressed concern over the order; worried that part of the order may have been lost in the mail.

Raitmaier says he received a partial order for $14,000 worth of silver, but is convinced the problem is with Liberty Trading, not the mail. Raitmaier has reported the problem to the Vandalia, Illinois Police Department along with the Illinois Attorney General.

Raitmaier also claims the company agreed to offer a partial refund of 51,000, but the check didn't clear.

Several of the consumers told News 4 they agreed to wire the funds to Liberty Trading because they were promised a 2-percent discount if they didn't use a credit card. A Rock Hill South Carolina man told News 4 he paid $2,000 to Liberty on his credit card, but because the product never arrived he was able to dispute the charges for a full refund.

News 4 continues to talk with customers and the company about issues brought to light in this report.

 

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