CBS4 Investigates: Alarm Scam Dupes More Customers
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – CBS4 first told you about scam going around South Florida involving alarm systems in early July. The scam involves salesmen with some smooth-talking tricks. They switch your alarm company and lock you into five-year contracts without you realizing it.
CBS4 caught onto the scam while investigating Yasseil Cabre, an alarm salesman whose paperwork, business card, even shirt said he worked for ADT. When CBS4’s David Sutta checked into him, he found Cabre did not work for ADT. It was even clearer when CBS4 saw his contract. He is selling Monitorinics, an ADT competitor. He allegedly duped one victim at a home show into a five-year contract. David Bleisch, general counsel for ADT told CBS4, “We estimate, just on the number of complaints, we get that tens of thousands of people per year are being scammed by people like that.”
ADT shared with CBS4 how customers are being taken. In a video taken from a Vision Security sales training class, Brett Harris is role playing knocking on your door. “We are with GE. We are the makers of all the equipment that you have in the home so we do a lot business with all the security companies. ADT is one of them. The reason we are out here is we are just taking down those old panels, popping up a new one for ya. Nothing you have to pay for. You gotta say that right off the bat.” Harris says. Remember Harris actually works for Vision Security not GE or ADT. Here’s how he gets in your door. “I’ll tell you what, let me just take a look at your keypad and I’ll tell you if you need the update. So I go up to the keypad, oh wow! This is an antique. You could probably get some money for this girl!” Harris tells the audience of salesman and women.
Terry Trout in Oakland Park fell for it. “I’m watching CBS4 and saw your expose on this company and I watch this and I say, my God, that’s the guys who came around to my house,” Trout told CBS4. He said ‘yes’ and within minutes a brand new alarm system was installed by Vision Security. The same guys in the training video. Trout recalled, “The gentleman, clean, nice looking guy, was standing there and he said ‘I noticed your ADT sign there. And we just happen to be in the neighborhood, upgrading the control panels’, he said, ‘I was just wondering how is yours working now?’ And I said it’s working fine as well as I know. And he said ‘how about the backup batteries? Is that up to snuff?’ And I said ‘I don’t know.’ He said ‘you want me to take a look?’ It’s right inside the door so I said, ‘sure take a look’. When he saw it he said ‘Wow. That’s an oldie.’ ‘Like I said, we are in the neighborhood. We are upgrading the control panels and we could very easily change yours around and no cost to you’.” It worked like a charm, just like Harris said it would.
“Within minutes, they were at the door and he introduced his two installers and they started to get to work on it. All this time I thought they were ADT people. There is no reason to really doubt it,” Trout said. Back in the training video, Harris answered the question CBS4 had. “The only thing that you are probably wondering is how is he going to tell her about switching over from ADT to Security Networks right? Very simple.” Harris makes the move by saving you a couple of dollars and placing you with a “better” company. “The equipment is going to be the same brand. It’s going to be all the same however, the one thing that is going to change is that GE is now using another company for monitoring,” Harris says.
Trout says he didn’t get that line. Instead, with his old alarm system sitting on the table and the new one just installed, the salesman then had him sign a form, and make a phone call confirming he’s aware he switching alarm companies. Trout was confused. He said the salesman coached him how to answer questions including what to say when asked why he was switching companies. Trout was to say “upgrade”. Vision provided the call to CBS4. In it you hear the Vision representative ask Trout if he understands he’s not signing up with ADT, that he’s switching companies. He answers “yes”. During our interview he explained he felt it was too late. “That’s what I thought. I thought I pretty much had been had,” he said. Trout told us he had no idea he wasn’t dealing with ADT until he was asked to sign the paperwork and took the call. Vision told CBS4 the paperwork and phone call should have been done prior to the installation. Trout told us it happened afterwards when he was already trapped.
Trout thought he was signing a month-to-month deal. It was really five-years. “They are just deceiving the people,” Trout told CBS4. Likely, many others feel deceived. Vision Security has a list of complaints. When asked about it, Vision’s Attorney, Sean Brown, told us they have taken a lot of steps to prevent fraud, saying “will not tolerate deceptive sales practices.” Brown also provided documents accusing ADT of using similar tactics in the past. Trout may have gotten lucky though. He points to the contract where he signed his name. “The only name on this contract is just me,” he says. The line for the Vision representative is blank. CBS4 connected trout with a lawyer who advised him a contract with one signature is not valid. He’s working on canceling the deal and going back to ADT.
One of the interesting things CBS4 noticed in this story is Vision’s employees, the salesmen, the installers, appeared to all be Mormon, college-age students from Utah. Vision is based in Utah and explained they send their sales representatives all over the country. Critics contend they are using Mormon college students because they are clean cut, well spoken, and used to knocking on doors.
So what should you do if someone knocks on your door and starts asking about your alarm service? If they are offering something, especially anything free, confirm who they are with your alarm company and read the fine print. If you do sign up, you have three days to change your mind in Florida. After that you would have to take your case to police and the legal system.
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