State eyes firm’s assets in rebate-scam lawsuit
Elsie Tallieur may be one step closer to recouping money she was promised years ago in what the Colorado Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting civilly as a rebate scam conducted by a local man.
Tallieur, 77, purchased siding for her Grand Junction home under the conditions that she would receive $4,000 in rebates from a former Grand Junction company called National Energy Rebate Fund, which was operated by Tim Stubbs.
After sending in a coupon for the rebate, she was denied the reimbursement because Stubbs’ company said Tallieur sent the coupon back in the wrong fashion — via certified mail when it should have been registered mail.
Tallieur said she can’t recall how much she paid for the siding, but the Attorney General’s Office said Stubbs violated the Colorado Consumers Protection Act by convincing consumers to purchase higher-priced items “by offering them false hopes that they have a fair opportunity to obtain a substantial rebate,” the complaint read.
Stubbs misrepresented the likelihood that customers would receive a rebate, the office said, and the terms and conditions of the agreement were not as easy to understand as Stubbs’ company purported them to be. Also, the office said, the scheme was not a way to promote energy efficiency, but a way for companies that Stubbs worked with to sell higher-priced items to customers.
Tallieur said if she ever receives restitution from the lawsuit, she’ll use the money for upkeep on her home.
“He’ll get his,” she said by phone Tuesday. “You can’t cheat people. What goes around comes around. He did that to a lot of honest people.”
To date, 198 complaints have been lodged against Stubbs and businesses he ran in Colorado, Utah, California and Wisconsin. The business was first incorporated in March 2002, and Stubbs formed a corporation in Colorado about two years later. Wisconsin’s attorney general also is staking out Stubbs’ assets to recoup money for victims there.
Colorado’s attorney general said it served papers to Stubb’s sister Karen Santos in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., where Stubbs was known to receive mail, and an attempt to serve Stubbs at an address in Costa Rica was unsuccessful. If Stubbs does not respond to the complaint by July 13, the state will win a default judgement against Stubbs for $4.5 million he has in escrow.
“We’re working with the state of Wisconsin to ensure that victims are given appropriate restitution,” said spokesman Mike Saccone of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.
Stubbs said by phone Tuesday from Panama City that he never stole money from anyone, and he has agreed to return the $4.5 million to his remaining customers. He said he paid out more than $300,000 in rebate claims to customers in Rifle and Montrose, and since he closed his office in October, many of the complaints may be from customers who had rebate forms returned to them. He said he wasn’t operating a scam because customers enjoyed better products and more money from energy savings whether or not they received money back from rebates.
Stubbs offered consumers up to $7,000 in rebates with up to three vouchers for each customer. Once the voucher was issued, the customer had 17 days to submit the voucher to an entity called Fund Administrators to register it. Fund Administrators was promoted as a third party, but it also was run by Stubbs, the complaint said. Consumers were then directed to send in rebate claims between the 47th and 48th month after the claim was registered. Numerous claims were rejected because customers did not send in the original registered mail receipt. Others were rejected when customers sent in the original receipt, but could not prove it later without the original, the complaint said.