California Homeowners Scammed Over Solar Panel Installations

Andrea Bokreta, a homeowner in Sacramento, was recently billed $11,640 for solar panels she never authorized or received. Bokreta told CBS13’s Call Kurtis that she didn’t sign any papers.

Fraud against California Homeowners

Bokreta had a meeting with a representative from Freedom Forever, a solar company, last year. However, she decided not to buy solar panels for her house To get an estimate from the company, she gave out her Social number but didn’t agree to any installations. Even so, she was billed and found out that lender Solar Mosaic had put a lien on her home without letting her know.

  • Bokreta got a bill for $11,640 for solar panels she never got.
  • She didn’t agree to any installation contracts.
  • Solar Mosaic set up a lien on her house without her agreement.

Same Scenarios are Happening All Over California

This case isn’t unique to Andrea Bokreta alone. More than 180 complaints have been lodged against Solar Mosaic since 2019 according to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau data. In April of this year, around 100 individuals came from Los Angeles to Solar Mosaic’s Oakland headquarters protesting alleging that the lender gave out fake loans for incomplete home improvement projects in collaboration with contractors. They allege they’ve been collectively defrauded of approximately $3 million.

In Los Angeles Geraldin Alvara shares a similar experience. In 2021, Viridi Construction was employed by Alvara to change her garage into an auxiliary living unit at their family residence. She was told by the company that the project would cost $150k and that she had qualified for funding by Solar Mosaic the same day. The payment specifics would be given to Viridi once the project was done but, six months had passed with no work being carried out. A year later Alvara discovered that three amounts totaling $54,000 had already been dispatched to Viridi by Solar Mosaic.

  • Over 180 complaints have been lodged against Solar Mosaic since 2019.
  • Protestors claim to be given fraudulent loans for incomplete projects.
  • Alvara found that Viridi was paid $54,000 by Solar Mosaic without any work being done.

Lawsuits and Debt Issues

The family of Alvara planned to pay off the loan using rental revenue from their remodeled garage. However without this anticipated income they may now face financial hardship. They are often visited by bill collectors and Alvara has been denied credit card applications frequently. “This house is our means of support,” told Alvara to Oaklandside expressing her fear of homelessness.

In the meantime, Solar Mosaic states it takes homeowner protection seriously and has sued Viridi over contract breach. Freedom Forever also contested Bokreta’s allegations, proving her digital signature through DocuSign. Audits from both companies show Bokreta viewed and even signed in various areas on contract as well as loan papers despite insisting she didn’t sign anything.

Action Taken by Regulators and Company Reactions

CBS13 reports that since 2017, Freedom Forever has been penalized over a dozen times for numerous violations by California Contractors State License Board. It is even being considered for having its license revoked ideally because of these violations. Plus, two state attorneys general have brought cases over concerns regarding lending practices of Solar Mosaic.

Freedom Forever declared it has collaborated with Bokreta’s lender to dismiss the loan and Solar Mosaic has since sent confirmation to Bokreta. However, many homeowners haven’t had their claims resolved yet with some alleging loss of their entire savings

  • Freedom Forever has been penalized multiple times by California Contractors State License Board.
  • Two state attorneys general are bringing cases against Solar Mosaic due to its lending practices.
  • A lot of homeowners have unresolved claims.

The Struggle Continues and Justice is Sought

The situation’s strain is affecting Bokreta’s health, increasing her blood pressure. She wants both companies held responsible for what they did. “Someone needs to stop them,” she said emphatically. This growing problem brings attention to the urgent need for better consumer protections and stricter regulations to prevent similar future scams. As more homeowners seek renewable energy solutions, ensuring they’re not taken advantage of by fraudulent companies is crucial.

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