The owner of a south suburban company has been named in consumer fraud lawsuits filed jointly today by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on behalf of senior citizens and homeowners who were defrauded out of thousands of dollars in deposits for electrical power generators that were never delivered or installed.
The lawsuits, filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, allege that the contractor defrauded consumers primarily by taking deposits and failing to begin or complete the agreed upon work and failed to provide the purchased equipment, among other practices. As a result of this scheme, affected consumers claim to have lost more than $73,000 between the two legal actions.
Named in the lawsuits is Kevin Hart, the owner and operator of Cedar Electric Generators LLC, and Choice Generators, both at one time located in Illinois. Both companies were owned and controlled by Hart, a formerly authorized dealer of brand name generators. Several senior citizens were also victimized by Hart, including one who needed the back-up electrical power of a generator to operate her oxygen machine.
“Consumers who invest in a home improvement, particularly one that seeks to ensure electrical power during an emergency, should be assured that they will not be cheated out of their hard-earned money by an unscrupulous contractor,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. “We are very pleased to join forces with Attorney General Madigan to seek restitution for all of our victims and to ensure that this contractor never again has the opportunity to prey on senior citizens.”
“We’ve seen this time and again – companies that prey on the most vulnerable by promising access to vital services like power and electricity,” said Madigan. “It’s important to research all companies, especially those with offers that seem too good to be true. At the very least, check to see if the company is in good standing with my office’s Consumer Fraud Bureau and the Better Business Bureau.”
The lawsuits allege that Hart obtained substantial deposits from unsuspecting consumers then often failed to deliver on any of the services or equipment he had been contracted to provide.
Hart is also alleged to have assessed fees against customers who sought to cancel their contract and failed to return any deposited monies after receiving notices of cancellation. In addition, it is alleged that Hart intentionally failed to provide clients with a viable business address.
It is further alleged that Hart falsely claimed that he would provide services by a certain date, misrepresented that he would provide a particular type of equipment, and failed to inform customers of their cancellation rights.
The State’s Attorney’s Office has filed the lawsuit on behalf of six Cook County residents, including four senior citizens, who claim to be victims of Hart’s scam.
The lawsuits seek full restitution for the victims, a court-ordered prohibition against Hart from further engaging in similar business practices, and civil penalties for violation of the Consumer Fraud Act.
Assistant State’s Attorneys Rosa Abreu and Rosanne Pulia are handling the case for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Consumer Fraud Unit. The Unit offers help and guidance for consumers to help recover losses and State’s Attorney Alvarez encourages any Cook County resident with a home repair fraud complaint to call the Consumer Fraud Hotline at 312-603-8700.