Reptile biz owner to pay $15K to former customers over false claims

BOISE, Idaho (AP) A northern Idaho reptile dealer must refund $15,000 to former customers, is forbidden from selling sick or dying animals and can't make unsubstantiated claims about its animals' genetic qualities.

The settlement announced Thursday by the Idaho attorney general's office also prevents owners of Coeur d'Alene-based TMT Reptiles from making claims about their supposed specialized knowledge regarding genetics or breeding that they don't actually have.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says owners including Timothy M. West were the subject of numerous complaints from customers who spent thousands on bearded dragons, geckos, tortoises and other animals, in the hopes of setting up lucrative breeding businesses.

Despite West's claims, the attorney general says the animals often failed to breed or died.

A $15,000 civil penalty will be held in abeyance, pending West's compliance.