Last week, state Attorney General Ashley Moody announced she has secured almost half a million dollars following the shutdown of a heating, ventilation and air conditioning scheme run by 10 companies that targeted Floridians.
The judgment secures $490,000—with the majority going back to victims of the deceptive and unfair trade practices.
The companies allegedly operated a bait-and-switch air-conditioning scheme by luring consumers with advertisements for extremely low-cost services, and then, once in consumers’ homes, refusing to provide the low-cost services, claiming that the air ducts were contaminated or that the ducts contained dangerous mold, without conducting proper testing. Some consumers reported the companies’ representatives engaged in high-pressure and coercive sales tactics that made the consumers feel unsafe and having no choice but to purchase the products or services.
“We have secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution for consumers who fell victim to the defendants’ unscrupulous sales tactics. That these defendants used intimidation and bait-and-switch schemes to sell air conditioning services in Florida is infuriating. I am pleased we were able to stop these deceptive and unfair business practices and secure money for harmed consumers,” Moody said.
According to the final judgment, $490,000 must be paid by the defendants within 90 days. Of that total, $340,000 will be available for victims of the scheme and $150,000 must be paid in civil penalties. The judgment also bans the defendants from engaging in any other mold-related or air-duct-related services. Several of the defendants’ assets, including bank accounts and properties, are now frozen pending full payment of restitution. The Florida Attorney General’s Office received hundreds of complaints about the defendants’ deceptive, intimidating tactics to sell air-conditioning-related products and services.
Defendants Netanel Brumand, Yoseph Cetton, Biniamin Ram, Paloma Falcon-Benitez and Miri Lazko have agreed to entry of this consent final judgment and stipulated order for permanent injunction.
The defendant companies, located in Duval and Broward County, include: AC for Sale, L.L.C.; ALIA Factory, INC.; ALIA Investments, INC.; Air Care Solutions, INC.; Defendant Air Care Solutions, L.L.C.; Febrez AC, L.L.C.; FLA AC Services and Duct Cleaning, L.L.C. d/b/a USAIR AC & Duct; Mirolio, INC.; USAIR Duct and AC, L.L.C.; and USA Wow, INC.
To avoid falling victim to HVAC-related schemes, Moody’s office offered the following tips:
- Beware of advertised service prices that are too good to be true and research common prices for services offered;
- Do not be pressured into making an immediate decision as qualified service providers will understand if a few days is needed to consider;
- Know that testing for mold in an air system typically takes one day to a week to receive test results and it cannot be done on-site; and
- Ask questions about the products and research before agreeing to have any type of chemicals applied to a home.
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