June 27, 2012
Settlement totaling nearly $1.8 million reached in BlueHippo consumer protection lawsuit
HARRISBURG - Attorney General Linda Kelly today announced that a settlement totaling nearly $1.8 million has been reached in the Attorney General's consumer protection lawsuit against the founder and owner of a Maryland-based company, BlueHippo Funding, who is accused of preying on Pennsylvania consumers with poor credit.
The settlement, in the form of a Consent Petition filed in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, was reached with Joseph K. Rensin, of Ellicott City, Maryland - the owner, CEO and Chairman of the Board of BlueHippo Funding, of Baltimore, Maryland. BlueHippo, and its subsidiaries, BlueHippo Capital, LLC, of Vienna, Virginia and BlueHippo Capital, LLC, of Las Vegas, Nevada, previously filed for bankruptcy in Delaware Bankruptcy Court.
"BlueHippo allegedly used a national campaign of television and radio ads, telemarketing calls and Internet websites to lure consumers into purchasing computers, flat screen TV's and other electronic equipment," Kelly said. "In reality, the complaints we received indicated BlueHippo was little more than a sham enterprise that delivered few, if any, products to consumers."
Pennsylvania consumers who encountered problems with BlueHippo, but have not yet filed formal complaints, are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection as soon as possible.
Kelly said that under the terms of the settlement, Rensin will pay restitution in the amount of $200,000.00. Also, Rensin is permanently prohibited from collecting any accounts receivable from any Pennsylvania consumer derived from debts owed to the defendants and/or entities affiliated with defendants - an amount worth approximately $1,600,000 - and he is barred from reporting any such debts owed by Pennsylvania consumers to credit reporting agencies.
Additionally, Kelly said the settlement bans Rensin from conducting business in Pennsylvania that involves the sale or financing of computers and electronics to consumers and he is permanently prohibited from violating Pennsylvania's consumer protection law and other laws.
"While our Bureau of Consumer Protection has already received complaints from more than 300 consumers regarding BlueHippo, we believe that there are other potential victims who have not yet come forward," Kelly said. "Pennsylvania residents with problems or complaints involving BlueHippo should call our toll-free consumer protection hotline, at 1-800-441-2555, or submit an online consumer complaint."
Kelly encouraged consumers to file formal complaints as soon as possible in order to ensure that they are included in this settlement. Consumers have 90 days from the court approval of this settlement to submit their complaints.
The allegations raised by Pennsylvania consumers about BlueHippo include:
Additionally, BlueHippo is accused of conducting telemarketing without properly registering in Pennsylvania; operating as a loan broker without registering with the state Department of Banking; violating the Installment Sales Act and failing to register corporations and fictitious business names with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
The Consent Petition was negotiated and filed by Senior Deputy Attorney General John M. Abel and Deputy Attorney General Saverio P. Mirarchi of the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The Consent Petition will require approval of the Commonwealth Court.