Salespeople forged energy contracts
Former Alberta Energy Savings employees fined after pleading guilty to scam
A trio of employees from an Alberta energy company has been fined a total of $6,800 for signing homeowners up to fraudulent energy contracts.
The former employees of Alberta Energy Savings, now called Just Energy, pleaded guilty to charges under Alberta’s Fair Trading Act for false contracts made between June 30 and July 19, 2009.
The parent company had no knowl- edge of their sales peoples’ activities, said Mike Berezowsky, a spokesman for Service Alberta, the ministry responsible for consumer issues.
The scam involved the salespeople contacting homeowners to sell electricity and natural gas contracts. During the conversations, they gleaned enough information to write contracts between the homeowners and the energy company. They then forged the homeowners’ signatures onto the contracts, Berezowsky said.
The salespeople then impersonated the homeowners when the energy company’s call centre made a “verification call” to confirm the contracts, Berezowsky said.
Service Alberta has received 414 complaints about energy marketers in the past seven years, but the majority of calls relate to aggressive or misleading marketing pitches, not forgery.
“The forging is unprecedented — what we usually see is salespeople using misleading pitches,” Berezowsky said.
The employees duped a total of four households in Edmonton, Barrhead and Innisfail.
The false contracts were eventually cancelled.
Kimberley Bernard pleaded guilty July 8 to one charge under the provincial Fair Trading Act and was fined $1,500.
Narek Hakobyan pleaded guilty June 16 to one charge under the act and was fined $3,000. Shadow Fox Thunderstorm pleaded guilty May 31 to one charge under the act and was fined $2,300.
They were each placed on 12 months’ probation and ordered to perform community service.