BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Three Frederick County furniture sellers have been charged with violating the Consumer Protection Act after they allegedly took deposits on orders and failed to deliver goods, sometimes changing the name of their company to claim they didn’t owe customers a refund, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said.

“Taking deposits for goods, failing to deliver the goods, and refusing to provide owed refunds are all violations of Maryland’s consumer protection laws,” said Frosh. “We are seeking relief for consumers who didn’t receive their furniture, and we have gotten an order from the court that will stop the Defendants from hurting any more consumers until this case can be adjudicated.”

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Christopher Engel, Karol Engel, Matthew Dihel and three limited liability companies are listed in charging documents.

Chris and Karol Engel began taking orders in winter 2019 as Urbana Custom Décor, LLC, according to the charging documents.

Prosecutors claim that months after the company was founded, “the Engels entered into numerous contracts with consumers, took sizeable deposits for those orders, and then failed to deliver the promised furniture.”

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By February 2020, the couple was operating their business under the name Farmstead Customer Furniture, LLC, and allegedly continued taking orders and failing to deliver the items or providing refunds, according to the charging documents.

“When consumers requested updates on the progress of their orders, or explanations for why their furniture was not delivered on the promised date, Chris Engel would at times string consumers along for months, providing deceptive excuses, or misleadingly telling consumers that their furniture was almost ready, but then never delivering it,” prosecutors allege. “When Chris Engel did provide furniture to certain consumers, the furniture was different and/or or was of poorer quality than what was ordered and promised. On occasion, Chris Engel promised to provide refunds to angry consumers, then failed to do so.”

In March 2021, Chris Engel changed the name of his company to MOCHA Furniture, LLC, with Dihel as a partner and co-owner. They allegedly continued the same practices, prosecutors allege, and Engel recently told customers they should ask their banks for chargebacks because “MOCHA, despite having taken deposits and payments from them, does not have the funds to pay owed refunds.”

The Engels and Dihel are accused of deceptive trade practices and unfair trade practices.

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The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division is seeking a permanent injunction against the defendants, restitution for consumers, court costs and penalties.

CBS Baltimore Staff