SACRAMENTO, CA – The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is warning consumers to be aware of home improvement loan scams after three people were arrested on related charges in Los Angeles County.
CSLB investigators worked with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office to charge three people in a scam that cost lenders $3.4 million. The suspects, Norbertas Sinica of Thousand Oaks, Selena Garcia of Riverside, and Kelliams S. Chavistad of Long Beach, face dozens of felony charges for residential burglary, financial elder abuse, identity theft, grand theft, and more.
CSLB investigators say Sinica owned and operated Eco Technology, whose license has been revoked by CSLB, while Garcia and Chavistad worked to solicit customers. Eco Technology advertised tankless water heaters and other energy-efficient products.
Consumers were allegedly told the company would provide energy efficient upgrades that would cost them nothing. Eco Technology would allegedly collect the customers’ information and use it to apply for loans through the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program for Eco Technology’s benefit. PACE allows property owners to finance energy improvement projects as a tax assessment on their property tax bills. Later, the customers would receive tax bills that had increased.
In a separate case, the California Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission recently announced a settlement with Ygrene, a clean energy financing company, resolving allegations of misconduct relating to its administration of the PACE program. The investigation found that Ygrene and many of its contractors failed to secure consumers’ express informed consent to use their homes as collateral to secure PACE financing, instead impersonating consumers on calls or forms. Ygrene and its contractors are also alleged to have rushed property owners through Ygrene’s contract and made misrepresentations about consumers’ ability to refinance or sell their home before fully paying off their PACE loan.
“Consumers considering installing a residential solar energy system should review important information on the CSLB Solar Smart page,” said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. “Homeowners should also use the CSLB’s website to secure three bids and check the license of the contractor before agreeing to any home improvement project.”
The investigation into Eco Technology case remains ongoing. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office says many of the victims in the scam were elderly and did not speak English. If you or someone you know believes they were victims of the scheme, please call CSLB at (916) 255-4161.
Regarding solar or PACE-related concerns, you can also file a complaint with CSLB against a contractor.
About CSLB: CSLB operates under the umbrella of the Department of Consumer Affairs and licenses and regulates nearly 285,000 contractors in California. In 2021, CSLB helped consumers recover more than $44 million in ordered restitution.