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H.R. Privette
Owner of
Handcuffed and heading to jail in Jan 2003


Date October 14th 2002:
I ordered furniture online from a company called Carolina Furniture ( back in Oct 2002. They took my order along with a 50% deposit of $662.50 via personal check. The contract states that the furniture will arrive in their warehouse in a minimum of 16 to18 weeks. After it arrives, it says they will contact me about a delivery date.

Date Februrary 13th 2003:
I called 1-800-340-0064 about the order and all I got was the voice mail system. My message was eventually returned with another message saying that they will check on the order and call me back. They even took my email address saying that they would send me status on the orders via emails. Two weeks have gone by with no answer on the delivery date. I have repeatedly called but I can only get the voice mail system.

I did a little digging online and I noticed that this company has had multiple names and phone numbers. It has also gone out-of-business/changed names as the owner Mr. Henry Lee Privette (a.k.a. H.R. Privette) has moved operations from South Carolina to North Carolina. Four years ago, Mr. Privette was arrested on fraud charges in South Carolina and a few months later he was out of jail on bail and back in business across the border in North Carolina. I guess he was recently arrested in Jan 2003 on 70 counts of fraud in NC. He is now out on bail and for some reason his business is still up and running.

The company has operated under several names and addresses, such as:
Carolina Furniture Factory Direct
3120-B Waccamaw Boulevard
Myrtle Beach, SC 29579

Carolina Furniture
940 Carter Drive
Sunset Beach, NC 28468

Carolina Furniture
P.O. Box 7506
High Point, NC 27264

There are also many different phone numbers for this business:

Other names include Design Online and and and and and There are probably more.

Date Februrary 17th 2003:
Since I received no response from Carolina Furniture, I called Design Online at 910-575-7830. I talked to a gentleman and asked if they were affiliated with Carolina Furniture. He was very curious as why I called him. He asked me three times where I got this phone number from. I told him I got it off the internet. The truth is I got it off of a complaint registered online with the Better Business Bureau. After I told him I had placed an order with Carolina Furniture he said he would call “someone over there” and have them call me. I received a voice mail from Ruth Dodd, the woman who originally took my order, and she said my order was in stock and that I could go online to see when the order would be scheduled for delivery. Well the online order status window does not work. It only returns a comment saying that they just implemented this system and all orders may not be entered yet. I don’t think this system works at all. It is probably only there to by more time from unsuspecting buyers for their shady operation.

I called the 800 number again but this time I left a message stating that I was aware of their shady business practices, and that I wanted a refund on my deposit. I informed them that my lawyer would be contacting them within the next few days. I also told them that I will be contacting the BBB and the NC Attorney General’s Office regarding the matter. After I hung up, I received an IMMEDIATE call back from Ruth stating that she was shocked and surprised. I told here that I have been doing some research on the company and that there are many dissatisfied customers that have never receiver their furniture or their deposits back. She said that the unsatisfied customer’s orders have been delayed because people change their minds on the furniture they want which delays orders etc. I then asked for an immediate refund of my deposit $662.50. She said she could not handle refunds but she would send the refund info to someone else. I them asked to speak with the president of the company. She became hostile and hung up on me. Before she hung up I told her I expect to receive my refund within two weeks. If I don’t, I will be contacting the appropriate authorities.

I received a phone call later in the afternoon on Feb 17th 2003 from 910-575-6403. It was actually H.R. Privette himself saying that he will send out a refund check in 7-10 days. I asked him if he could guarantee my check will be here within 10 days. He said within +/- 2 days with the weekends etc. When I asked him if he could guarantee the refund check will be in my possession within 14 days, he said ”most likely”. I have a mark on my calendar for the date March 3rd but I really do not expect to receive a check since other people have been promised refunds by H.R. himself and have never received anything.

I don’t think any of this will do any good. I really don’t know what to do. Reading about other people’s experiences at has concerned me. Even if I do receive a refund, it is amazing how many people have complained about this business. It also amazes me that this man is still in business.

As a note, please stay away from all web sites that promise some type of product or service at a "too-good-to-be-true" price. Also be leary of websites that do not have fixed addresses or actual showrooms or that require a cash deposit. Always use a credit card for protection.

Sites of Interest:
See The Ripoff Report for others who were ripped off by this company. Do a search on California Furniture

See WRAL Article for the Jan 2003 article of H.R Privett. There’e even a picture of him being taken away in handcuffs. How can this guy still be operating a business?

You can also check the Better Business Bureau web site. Do a search on "Carolina Furniture". There are 43 returns for this business some of which are run by H.R Privette. You can read about all of the unfavorable reports filed by his customers.

Update: March 3rd:
I have not received a refund yet. I just called Carolina Furniture at 910-575-7830 and the number is disconnected.

I have now called Cynthia Simmons at the NC Attorney General's Office . She apologized for Privette's business practices and said the only thing you can do is file a complaint under the Consumer Protection flag on the web site. She said it will take a year to actually file charges against this guy and it is very unlikely that you will recover any of your deposit. She also recommended not to call Carolina Furtiture anymore. It is her impression that H.R. Privette gets a good laugh when people call him asking about a refund.

I have also sent an email to NC State Senator Marc Basnight

I have also filed a complaint with the California Attorney General's Office (my home state). I also have filed a complaint with the U.S. Postal Service concerning mail fraud. Other people have called a woman at the U.S Postal Inspection Sercive named Grace at 1-312-669-5663 to file a verbal complaint.

Update: March 5th:
I have filed a complaint with the South Carolina Better Business Bureau.

I have filed a complaint with the Internet Fraud Complaint Center. You can reach their link through the Federal Bureau of Investigations Website. I seriously doubt any of this matters.

Update: March 11th:
I just received a call from Cynthia Simmons of the NC Attorney Generals Office. She said that the best way to file a complaint is to fill out the form under the Comsunmer Protection flag at the NC Attorney General's Office Website. All of the complaints mailed to her office are sent directly to the FBI who is handling the case. She said there are probably over 300 complaints so far against Mr. Privette. She also said not to contact the Mail Fraud Dept of the Post Office.

Attached Below please find an email from FBI Special Agent Novelli regarding what to do if you are a victim of HR Privette.

From: FBI Wilmington
To: (Names deleted to protect the innocent)

Subject: Carolina Furniture Update 4 (March 11, 2003)

Hello, many of you already know, I am Special Agent Richard J. Novelli, Jr. from the Charlotte Division of the FBI, assigned to the Wilmington Resident Agency. I am the case agent on the investigation involving Carolina Furniture Company, INC.

Due to the large volume of telephone calls, we have instituted an e-mail contact list for updates. I will try to send out the list weekly, but don't be discouraged if you do not see an update every week.

The investigation is on-going. If you receive furniture or a refund, please contact me by e-mail.


1.) The FBI did not indict, arrest, or otherwise file charges against HR Privette. The investigation is on-going. Photos on the web are of the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office, who did arrest HR Privette.

2.) The FBI is still investigating.

3.) DO NOT CONTACT THE POSTAL INSPECTOR IN CHICAGO. Unless she tells you otherwise. The Postal Inspector in NC is aware and is assisting in the Investigation in NC. We are covering all states, as the company is in NC and all victims have a common tie to this state.

4.) Yes, the local charges have been dropped. This is not because the case is not being investigated, as I have read. The FBI is leading the investigation.


The first thing - If you have reported your experience to the NORTH CAROLINA ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, then I am aware of your initial complaint and status as of the date of your report.

Second - The FBI is in the process of contacting all of the victims, in the order that their complaint was made with the NC Attorney General's Office. To assist the FBI, PLEASE retain any documents associated with your purchase. These include: contracts, notes of telephone calls made and the results of those calls, attorney letters and fees, etc...

Third - Try to limit calls to the FBI and the Brunswick County Sheriff's Department. We are very sorry that we can not talk to each individual who has called. We are also attempting to create a website for further instructions and information.

Fourth - Do not change your personal actions based upon the FBI's investigation. For example, if you had planned on filing a civil lawsuit but did not want to interfere with the FBI investigation, do what is right for you. We do not give legal advice and are not involved in the civil lawsuits.

Fifth - I can not supply potential victims with a home address for HR Privette or any other employee.

Sixth - Thank you for your patience!

SA Rich Novelli

It looks like the heat is on. I hope they can get this "gentleman"

Update: March 14th:
It has been comfirmed that is an HR Privette web site. He just added a new number 910-575-0194

Update: April 12th 2004:
Carolina Furniture and HR Privette have filed for bankruptcy. The last I heard his assetts were auctioned off to pay bills. I don't think we will ever see anything from this. Chalk this one up to experience. As for HR, he will most likely get a slap on the wrist and will probably start another fake business somewhere else...BEWARE.

If you would like to contact me, I can be reached by email at Jim Snider