For the second time in less than a week, our office is ordering a New York-based company to stop selling unauthorized insurance in Washington state.
This time it's a company called Direct Buy Associates, Inc., although it also does business under several similar names, including Direct Buy Auto Warranty, Direct Buy Warranty, and DirectBuy Warranty. The order also includes AHMT Corp.
Direct Buy Associates and AHMT -- with have adjacent offices on a street in Brooklyn -- do business through websites like directbuyautowarranty.com, directbuywarranty.com and directbuyautowarranty.net. The companies have also listed mailing addresses that include a mailstop in New Jersey, a virtual office in New Jersey, and a European headquarters in Cyprus.
In 2011, we began getting complaints from Washington consumers who had bought plans from these companies. The plans, sold since at least 2009, purported to cover vehicle repairs. The companies sold at least 57 such plans to Washingtonians. At least one Washington consumer who paid the fees monthly was charged international transaction fees from Cyprus.
None of companies or principals named in the order are authorized to transact insurance in Washington. Nor are they registered here as service contract providers.
Our order requires the companies to send copies of the order to all their Washington customers, and to report to us all premiums they've collected for business here.
The order also names a number of individuals, including Albert V. Hakim, Michael A Hakim, R.D. Frazier, Jon Braidsworth and Robert Harrington.