PHOENIX -- A Phoenix woman says a contract she signed following her house fire has caused her nothing but headaches. Now, she wishes she had never signed it.
Sharon Womble's house was ravaged by fire hours after Thanksgiving. A few hours later, Sharon and her friends say a mysterious woman arrived at the site, claiming she was there to help. “I thought she was with the insurance company," said Sharon.
Sharon was handed a card that had a fire logo on it. The card was from a company called Fire Support/24-7, and named April Joy as a consultant on it. Sharon says April Joy convinced her to sign a hefty contract with a third party company to pack up and haul off some of her damaged items.
Sharon said, "You think they're trying to help you, and that's the only reason I signed that paper."
3 On Your Side has since discovered April Joy is really April Joy Lucero. Back in 2010, the FBI announced that April Joy Lucero was part of a mortgage fraud scheme and sentenced to two years in prison. Sharon said, "Oh, I didn't know that. You're doing better than we did."
David Young is a public insurance adjuster who provides assistance to consumers when it comes to claims.“These contractors are not advocates for the insured,” cautions Young.
He says homeowners like Sharon are frequently persuaded into signing documents at times when they're most vulnerable. "There’s a number of felons in this business who have found a home that they can go out and meet with people and convince them to sign with a particular contractor," he says.
3 On Your Side tried contacting April Joy Lucero several times, including when we showed up at the house where she reportedly lives. But she hasn't gotten back with us. As for Sharon, not only is she trying to deal with her burned-out home, but she says she remains on the hook for a contract she never should have signed. She’s also been living in a rented trailer, trying to figure things out. "There doesn’t seem like there's any end to it, I don't know what to do now," she says.
So what about that fire logo on that business card? The Phoenix Fire Department says a formal investigation is not underway, but that law enforcement may get involved.