Don't let computer companies hack into your wallet

Published: Mar. 17, 2011 at 4:12 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 17, 2011 at 10:15 PM EDT
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Robert Hussey, former Seaside Computers owner, convicted of six fraud related criminal charges...
Robert Hussey, former Seaside Computers owner, convicted of six fraud related criminal charges in Horry County (Source: HCPD)
Mark Edward White, Computers & Pawn owner, facing felony computer fraud charges (Source:...
Mark Edward White, Computers & Pawn owner, facing felony computer fraud charges (Source: Johnston Co. Sheriff's Dept)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A viewer told WMBF News she bought a short lived computer from Surfside Computers. After doing some investigating, WMBF News learned the owner of that store is facing felony charges.

"It was a $199 special, but a few weeks later when it crashed, I went back, the store was gone. I talked to some people who said a bunch of these guys have been doing this for years, shutting down, changing their store's name and reopening," Trisha Cunningham said.

Tricia said she tracked down the sales guy who sold it to her, at Computers and Pawn in Myrtle Beach.

"He tried to charge me for the repairs. I told him I still had a warranty because he sold it to me at another store," Cunningham said.  "He said, 'well because of what you've been through we'll just charge you $60 cash', but I told him I knew what he was up to. He just gave me the computer and I left."

Cunningham said Mark Edward White is listed on the license for Computers and Pawn, as well as some other stores. WMBF NEWS learned White is also facing felony charges in North Carolina for not returning computers to customers from a store which is also now closed.

"Apparently there are 18 felony charges against White in NC, and I wanted to talk to him about those charges and some concerns customers had," WMBF News Anchor Michael Maely asked a man at the Myrtle Beach store in an attempt to conduct an interview with the supposed store owner.

The man, who didn't want to give his name, said he didn't know Mark White.

Another sales associate, who identified himself as John Smith, asked WMBF News to leave the store with our camera.

"Everyone has internal problems, every store has complaints, and in regards to Tricia's concern, why should we honor the warranty from another company that's closed down," said Smith, who wouldn't talk about the charges White is facing.

The man who identified himself as John Smith, told WMBF News he would respond to a list of questions we had about White's involvement with Robert Hussey, who worked with White at a prior computer store. Hussey was convicted on computer fraud charges in Horry County. Smith never responded to our list of questions.

Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolina's Kathy Graham said Mark White of Computers and Pawn is connected to several other computer stores that have shut down and said he's the one who sold the Surfside store to Robert Hussey, the guy later convicted in Horry County in 2008 and sued by Microsoft Corporation for software piracy.

"We've had in three years more than 300 complaints, all from these similar companies that closed down and customers say didn't return their computers to them, or didn't properly repair those computers. Many of them naming Mark White and Robert Hussey in those complaints," Graham said. "The more complaints people file at our website, the better chance we have of filing a case against them."

WMBF NEWS first reported about similar complaints three years ago that stemmed from the same store location Tricia bought her computer from. Then owner, Robert Hussey, pleaded guilty to six violations of the SC Computer Crimes Act, and Microsoft Corporation sued Hussey for software piracy.

Investigators say White had actually worked with Hussey and even bought some of the computers from him to open his current stores.

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs said they will pull White's license if he is convicted on those felony counts. His next court appearance is in April.

You can view reports on a business and file your complaints here.

Meanwhile police ask everyone to file a report if they think they've been scammed.

Copyright 2011 WMBF News. All rights reserved.