The Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) has helped 22 California homeowners receive financial reimbursements and remove property tax liens after Encino-based Eco Tech, a solicitor for the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), signed customers up for the program without their knowledge.
The liens, averaging between $20,000 and $30,000, increased individual’s property tax bills by as much as $3,000. The DFPI fought to ensure homeowners received reimbursement checks from the PACE administrator who had used Eco Tech as one of its solicitors. Investigators worked with the same administrator to track down complaints, championing a partnership that allowed the department to quickly shut down harmful consumer operations.
The DFPI issued an order to bar Nobertas Sinica, sole owner of Eco Tech, from taking part in the PACE program. The order bars Sinica from independently soliciting homeowners or working with PACE administrators. The department issued a desist and refrain order against Eco Tech, which had solicited homeowners throughout Southern California, in May prohibiting the company from participating in the PACE program.
“This order should make clear that we will not allow bad actors to hide behind their companies and will take action to shut down individuals who prey on vulnerable members of our community,” said DFPI Commissioner Manuel P. Alvarez.
While Sinica was not directly implicated in the scheme, other Eco Tech solicitor agents misrepresented the PACE program by telling prospective customers the energy efficient products being installed in their homes were part of a “free government program.”
In reality, Eco Tech charged three-to-five-times the usual industry rate for tankless water heaters and other products. In one instance, a homeowner was charged a staggering $36,000 for two water heaters that they were told they needed for a 1200-sq-foot home. Eco Tech agents also used high-pressure sales tactics to prey on mostly elderly homeowners or those where English was not their primary language.
This article was released by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.