Attorney General Peter Nickles today announced a consumer protection settlement that stops Balboa Capital Corporation, a California-based company, from collecting tens of thousands of dollars in lease payments from five DC churches that were tricked into signing leases for over-priced computer equipment.
The District charged Balboa with participating in a scheme through which local vendors Television Broadcasting Online, Inc. (TVBO) and Urban Interfaith Network, Inc., in coordination with three leasing companies, deceptively marketed computer equipment leases to dozens of predominantly African-American churches in DC. The settlement resolves the District’s charges without an admission of liability.
According to the District’s complaint, TVBO and Urban Interfaith Network promised to provide the churches with “informational kiosks” that, at no cost to the churches, would publicize church and community events, job listings and coupons for local businesses. By misrepresenting that sponsors had already agreed to advertising that would cover the entire cost, TVBO and Urban Interfaith Network convinced church leaders to sign leases for the kiosks. After the promised sponsorships never materialized, many of the churches were left facing collection actions by the leasing companies for tens of thousands of dollars.
“These leases were the product of deceptive marketing practices and should not be enforced against the churches,” Attorney General Nickles said.
The DC churches that leased kiosks from Balboa were House of Help/City of Hope, Lane Memorial CME Church, Miles Memorial CME Church, Rock Creek Baptist Church and Way of the Cross Church of Christ.
The District is continuing to prosecute its action against the remaining defendants, including Chesapeake Industrial Leasing Co., Inc., based in Baltimore, and United Leasing Associates of America, Ltd., based in Wisconsin.