“This alleged scheme preyed on vulnerable victims who feared they might lose their homes as a result of this suspected criminal activity. The work of CSLB investigators often goes unnoticed, but they work diligently to protect homeowners from fraudulent activity.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
LOS ANGELES – On October 27, 2022, three Southern California residents were arrested and 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.
Those arrested are identified as:
- Norbertas Sinica, 37, of Thousand Oaks,
- Selena Garcia, 27, of Riverside,
- and Kelliams S. Chavistad, 42, of Long Beach.
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.
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.
The three-year investigation by the Contractors State License Board and the District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation is ongoing.