Customers fear fraud when piano store closes

February 12, 2008 4:35:42 PM PST
Several customers of a suburban Naperville piano store are concerned they won't see the pianos they paid for or get their money back.The customers say Piano Experts closed without warning.

Police in Naperville say they've received complaints from dozens of customers who say they were left in the cold.

Naperville police say that number is now up to 45. Customers believe they are victims of fraud. So far, the amount of money lost may be as high as $500,000. Police say at this point, they do not know if a crime was committed.

Pianos inside the store are doing nothing but collecting dust. That's because the Piano Experts music store is closed for business, something that comes as a shock to dozens of customers who bought expensive pianos but never received them.

"I actually had a small inheritance from my mother, so I thought, let's take it and buy this piano," said customer Peter Morse.

Morse, a Chicago attorney, paid more than $7,000 in cash for a piano he has never recieved. He filed a complaint with the Naperville Police Department, and now more than 40 customers have done the same thing. Police are investigating whether a crime was committed.

"If the money was taken with intent to defraud someone, then that would be a fraud. It would be a crime. However, it is also possible that this could be a business situation and a civil matter," said Cmdr. Dave Hoffman, Naperville police.

The Piano Experts is owned by Paul Biasco. The family has been in the music business for years. The Biasco attorney, Tom Breen, said the family ran into financial problems.

Morse said he hopes that is true, however, he says he has heard from several customers who brought pianos months ago and never received one.

"They had a lot of money coming in and no evidence of money going to a piano manufacturer," Morse said.

Although Morse is a lawyer, he is more interested in getting his money back than suing. The Biasco family has had past problems with their family music businesses. An older brother's piano company went out of business after he filed for bankruptcy. And the same brother was accused of using deceptive advertising practices. As for Paul Biasco, criminal and bankruptcy attorneys have been retained.