Tag Archives: Scams

Beware of Solar Panel Door-to-Door Salespersons

gus-ruballo-128864Many homeowners across California are being unlawfully tricked into leasing or financing solar panels for their homes by door-to-door salespersons and phone solicitors who misrepresent the terms of the contract.

Recently, HERA assisted the Gonzalezes of Orange Cove, California, who were misled into entering into an expensive lease of solar panels on their roof by a salesman who knocked on their door. The Gonzalezes are monolingual Spanish-speakers and the salesperson told them in Spanish that his company could install solar panels on their roof that would save them hundreds of dollars on their energy bills. The salesman said they would pay $96 per month for 30 years and that they would own the solar panels afterward.

 

He had Mr. Gonzalez sign a contract written entirely in English, which the Gonzalezes could not read or understand. The contract had dramatically different terms than were explained by the salesman, including that the solar company would retain ownership of the solar panels after a 25-year lease and that increased every year to $186 per month in year 25 for a total of over $40,000 in lease payments.  The salesman never explained these crucial terms to the Gonzalezes before they signed the contract, and the company never provided them with a Spanish translation of the contract.

 

The solar panels were later installed, but they did not produce the energy savings that the salesman promised.  In fact, the combined electricity bill and lease payments were about triple of what the Gonzalezes previously paid for electricity without the solar panels.  In addition, the panels created holes in the roof that caused water to leak into the house when it rained.

 

HERA sent the solar panel company a letter rescinding the loan based on the salesperson’s fraudulent misrepresentation and the failure to provide the Gonzalezes with a copy of the contract in the language in which it was negotiated, as required by Civil Code section 1632. Within one month, the solar company agreed to cancel the lease, refund the lease payments and repair damage to the Gonzalezes’ roof in exchange for return of the solar panels.

 

HERA has assisted other clients rescind solar panel contracts that were obtained based in misrepresentations about the terms and without providing a copy of the contract in Spanish after Spanish-language negotiations about the terms.  If you are facing such a problem, you should contact us for assistance.

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(HERA in the News) Family of Purple Heart veteran loses San Mateo home to foreclosure, says people took advantage of them [abc 7 news June 12, 2017]

The family of a Vietnam Purple Heart veteran is scrambling to leave their San Mateo home of 40 years before a deadline of 6 a.m. Tuesday. They’ve lost their home to foreclosure despite desperate attempts to save it, paying out tens of thousands of dollars.

The family accuses those who promised to help them save their home of taking advantage of them instead. It’s too late to stop the foreclosure, but they hope their story will help others.

The heartbreaking task of packing up belongings accumulated over 40 years is well underway for Delores Sexton and her husband Robert.

“It’s so hard to leave,” said Delores. “We’ve been here so long.”

Adding to the stress, Robert is undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia.

Delores has known Robert since she was 9 years old and they’ve been married 46 years.

The couple began falling behind on their mortgage payments several years ago. He says Wells Fargo declined a loan modification,

But in 2015, Endeavor sent him a letter stating he, “may be eligible for a loan modification” and offered to help him apply.

Robert says he paid out close to $20,000 for attorney fees, program fees and for a forensic loan audit to endeavor and other companies it recommended.

Robert says it was a huge mistake, “I’m embarrassed, but I feel worse for my family because I let them down.”

We contacted Endeavor, which told us it was no longer in business.

We also contacted the Foreclosure Defense Company which said it received the case from Endeavor.

Foreclosure Defense told us it prepared a lawsuit against the lender to advocate for the family’s behalf, but never filed it because the family failed to complete a necessary affidavit.

Robert told us he gave the company everything it wanted.

Foreclosure Defense also said it prepared a loan modification package, but the state Department of Consumer Affairs said it is not licensed to do that.

Foreclosure Defense sent us a report it asked a self-described “certified forensic loan auditor” to complete.

Attorney Maeve Elise Brown of the nonprofit Housing and Economic Rights Advocates has seen these types of reports before.

“When they hear the words forensic loan audits,” she said. “They think somebody is going to finally get to the bottom of this horrible experience.”

Brown says she’s never seen a forensic audit that helped anyone.

A recent report from the California public interest group found 11,000 federal complaints about mortgages from veterans.

“We saw financial institutions or evidence that would suggest financial institutions actually try and seek out service members,” said Emily Rusch, executive director of CalPIRG.

As for the Sextons, a longtime neighbor has offered to take them in until they get back on their feet.

“We’ve always been a happy family. Hopefully we can catch our breath,” said Delores.

Robert added, “I’m packing yeah, but I’m not going to give up.”

Their immediate concern is finding a place to rent. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help them get back on their feet.

Read the original article here.