In June, 1987, I purchased from First Coinvestors Inc., in Carle Place, N.Y., two Christa McAuliffe error stamp sets for $458.50.
I was told at the time of purchase that it was a sure deal. The company promised to buy the stamps back during the calendar year 1991 for twice the price I paid for them.The company said it had been in business for more than 20 years.
On Jan. 2, 1991, I called the company and found that the phone number had been disconnected.
I realize I may have been taken in by a bad investment or some type of scheme. I would like to know if I have any recourse.
How can I recover my investment? If that isn't possible, how would I file a complaint with the state of New York? - D.D., Bountiful.
The company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy (reorganization) Aug. 4, 1989. That was converted to Chapter 7 (liquidation) April 18, 1990.
You may send a proof-of-claim form to Judge Robert J. Hall, U.S. District Court, Eastern Division, 1635 Privado Rd., Westbury, N.Y. 11590.
The docket number is 889-91364-20.
The chance there will be any money left for unsecured creditors like you is generally slim in a Chapter 7 action. Only you can decide if it's worth your time and effort to file a claim.
According to the company's literature, the stamps were issued by a "far-off African country meant to be one of the emergency landing sites for the Challenger." (The lack of specificity on exactly what country issued the stamps raises a red flag in our mind.)
The stamps were advertised as "utterly beautiful". Also, Christa McAuliffe's name was misspelled, making them even more valuable.
The company's literature contains this statement:
"To demonstrate clearly our valuation of this gorgeous set, we extend to you the right to sell back the set to us, in its original condition, and only during the calendar year 1991, for $450. (A set cost $225.) . . . Assuming we are a viable firm with assets sufficient to meet this guarantee at the time you offer the stamps back to us, we guarantee that you can sell these stamps back to us at these prices." (Such a generous guarantee also raises a red flag in our mind.)
The set included three stamps, one of McAuliffe, one of Judith Resnik and one of Ronald McNair, as well as a souvenir sheet.
We can only say that the offer demonstrates two cliches: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is; and a guarantee is only as good as the company that stands behind it.
One more cliche: Live and learn.