Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón has announced that three people have been charged in a 159-count complaint with identity theft, grand theft and residential burglary in a home improvement loan scam that cost lenders $3.4 million.
“This alleged scheme preyed on low-income homeowners, many of whom were elderly and did not speak English. They thought they were getting a deal on home improvements, but they ended up living in fear of losing their homes,” District Attorney Gascón said. “Let these charges serve as a warning to anyone thinking about scamming consumers in Los Angeles County: we will work tirelessly to stop your schemes and hold you accountable.
I thank the team of investigators in my office and the Contractors State License Board and the prosecutors in my Economic Justice and Notario Fraud Unit for their hard work on this three-year investigation. If you or someone you know believes they were victims of this scheme, please call CSLB at (916) 255-4161.”
Norbertas Sinica of Thousand Oaks (dob 12/27/84), Selena Garcia of Riverside (dob 8/19/95) and Kelliams S. Chavistad of Long Beach (dob 06/27/80) are named in case BA510001.
Sinica is charged in 159 felony counts. The charges include 10 counts of residential burglary, 32 counts of identity theft, nine counts of financial elder abuse, 32 counts of false personation, 32 counts of causing a forged instrument to be recorded and 34 counts of grand theft.
Garcia is charged in 102 felony counts. The charges include six counts of residential burglary, 16 counts of identity theft, 16 counts of false personation, six counts of financial elder abuse, 22 counts of causing a forged instrument to be recorded and 23 counts of grand theft.
Chavistad is charged in 91 felony counts involving 20 victims. The charges include six counts of residential burglary, 20 counts of identity theft, 20 counts of false personation, three counts of financial elder abuse, 20 counts of causing a forged instrument to be recorded and 21 counts of grand theft.
The three were arrested today and are expected to appear for arraignment Friday in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
Sinica owned and operated Eco Technology, which advertised tankless water heaters and other energy-efficient products. Garcia and Chavistad were employed by the company to solicit customers.
While on in-home sales calls in 2018 and 2019, the company representatives allegedly would tell customers that the energy efficiency upgrades would cost them nothing. The representatives would allegedly collect personal information from the homeowners 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.
In most instances, the homeowners were not aware that an assessment had been recorded against their property until they received their tax bills, which had increased significantly. There are 32 homeowner victims cited in the complaint.
Most of the tax levies were later discharged by the lenders, costing PACE $1.3 million and the energy trading company Energy Efficient Equity, Inc. (E3) $2.1 million.
Submitted by the District Attorney’s Media Relations Division