Posted on: December 7, 2018|
Corrections and clarifications: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled the name of Fritts Electric Co. LLC.
“Deceptive” flyers that appear to be a public notice about solar energy prompted the Arizona attorney general to issue a warning about businesses masquerading as government agencies.
The flyers, which claim to be from the Maricopa County Solar Initiative, say the state and the federal government are paying to have solar energy systems installed on qualified homes in neighborhoods across Arizona.
The company’s website also “improperly used a modified version” of the Maricopa County seal to help promote the effort even though the county is not officially involved.
The flyers urge consumers to call and schedule “site audits.” Those who do are subjected to a solar sales pitch by the private company, Attorney General Mark Brnovich said.
Similar flyers appeared this summer in Clark County, Nevada, Brnovich said. A call Monday morning to the 480-area code number on the flyer went to a voicemail for the Clark County Solar Initiative.
“Law enforcement officials there have warned that the ‘Clark County Solar Initiative’ notices are deceptive,” Brnovich said.
Brnovich said the solar initiative is a private business and is not associated with the county.
The solar marketing company behind the Maricopa County Solar Initiative, Fritts Electric Co. LLC, was founded by Matthew Potter, who told The Arizona Republic use of the Maricopa County seal was part of its “shock and awe campaign.”
“We did, for a short period of time, use the Maricopa County seal,” Potter said. “We ceased doing so immediately when we got negative feedback on that.”
Potter said the company also received negative feedback from Nevada after using a county seal.
Potter said the company is based in Arizona, but that the voicemail saying they were the in Clark County “should have been changed.”
An unfinished website about the initiative was taken down on Monday after the attorney general’s advisory was released.
Potter said that the website being active until Monday evening was an “oversight” by the company’s information technology department. He said the company meant to take the site down weeks ago.
Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Katie Conner said she couldn’t comment on whether there have been any consumer complaints but said the office decided to act after learning of the issue.
“The consumers who call are really just subjected to a solar sales pitch by a private company,” Conner said. “We became aware of the issue and we wanted to get in front of it in case these flyers continue to circulate, so consumers aren’t, I guess, duped by this.”
Potter said the solar initiative plans to change the flyer’s language and to contact and comply with the attorney general.
If you believe you are a victim of consumer fraud, you can file a complaint online at the Arizona attorney general’s website. You can also contact the Consumer Information and Complaints Unit in Phoenix at 602-542-5763, in Tucson at 520-628-6648, and outside of the metro areas at 800-352-8431.