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4 Contractors Lose Licenses for Allegedly Duping Elderly

August 05, 2000|LEE CONDON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Contractors State License Board said Friday it has revoked the licenses of four contracting companies that duped elderly homeowners into taking out loans against their homes to pay for unnecessary remodeling work.

The agency said the contractors canvassed neighborhoods, trying to find elderly residents who had paid off their homes. The contractors then offered home improvement services and convinced the homeowners to pay for improvements by securing deeds of trust against their homes, the board said.

"They were blatantly targeting seniors who had a lot of equity in their homes. We absolutely had to put a stop to this in any way possible," said Lynette Blumhardt, a spokeswoman for the board.

The panel revoked the licenses of Goldstar Home Improvement Inc., Mid-West Remodeling Inc. and Save-On Construction, all based in Van Nuys, and U-Save Remodeling Inc. of Los Angeles.

The four companies were jointly operated by Ofer Farkash and Avi Haviv Gozlan, who could not be reached for comment Friday. Dan Glaser, a lawyer for the companies, declined comment on the decision.

Farkash and Gozlan will not be able to reapply for contractor's licenses under any company name for five years, Blumhardt said. A new license will be granted only if they settle any losses they have caused, post a disciplinary bond and pay all the investigation costs incurred by the agency, she said.

The case involved victims in Burbank, Mission Hills, Los Angeles and Compton. Margaret Culver, an 88-year-old Burbank woman, said revoking licenses for five years was "hardly enough."

Culver said she was tricked into signing a $65,000 loan secured against her home in 1998.

"I had told them I didn't want a loan, that I didn't need a loan," Culver said.

Culver said that all she wanted was a new carpet, but U-Save Remodeling contractors convinced her to put in new wiring, to paint the interior and to have plumbing work done.

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