Sales­peo­ple forged en­ergy con­tracts

For­mer Al­berta En­ergy Sav­ings em­ploy­ees fined af­ter plead­ing guilty to scam

Edmonton Journal - - FRONT PAGE - ALEXAN­DRA ZABJEK az­ab­jek@the­jour­nal.canwest.com

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.

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