Many Valley residents fall victim to solar panel scam

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

GILBERT, Ariz -- Dozens of Valley residents were fooled by a solar company that promised cheap bills. Stealth Solar promised huge savings but the Arizona Attorney General's Office says the complaints proved otherwise.

Kiko Khounvichith says he was sold a bill of goods. He thought that his solar-powered system would save him money, but over a two-year period, he says he lost nearly $10,000.

"They lied to us," he said.

Khounvichith says a Stealth Solar LLC salesman promised his family a flat utility fee of $28 a month, plus the cost of the solar panel-powered system. He says they got their solar power, but their utility bill reflected quite the opposite.

He says they gave him the runaround when he tried to contact the company about it.

"They just dragged their feet with trying to get answers, and eventually we had to call the attorney general's office," Khounvichith said.

The AG's office says Stealth Solar LLC violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act and victimized at least 50 consumers.

"Shame on them. Shame on them for trying to deceive people, and lie and cheat and steal to make them successful," Khounvichith said.

The company's advertised location on 44th Street in east-central Phoenix is vacant.

State officials say they're now faced with a more than $200,000 lawsuit.

Khounvichith has a warning for others: "Buyer beware, you've got to do your homework. We thought we did and we're caught in the middle of all this fraud."

Stealth and its owners must pay $72,000 in consumer restitution for the current complaint pool, up to an additional $20,000 in consumer restitution for eligible consumers who make a complaint within the next six months, $20,000 in attorneys’ fees and investigative costs, and $160,000 in civil penalties.

If you believe you have been a victim of consumer fraud, please contact the Arizona Attorney General's Office in Phoenix at 602-542-5763, in Tucson at 520-628-6648, or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at 1-800-352-8431.

Consumers can also file complaints online by visiting the attorney general’s website at www.azag.gov.