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Scam sells low-flow toilets door-to-door

January 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
There's a warning Monday about a so-called "toilet scam." Someone has been going around claiming to represent local water officials. They tell residents there's a new law requiring people to install "low-flow" toilets.They come to your door unannounced, claiming a new law requires residents to install high-efficiency toilets. Art Aguilar, general manager of the Central Basin Municipal Water District, says not so.

"They are being told that they have to do this, and it's strictly voluntary," said Aguilar. "And so it's important for the people to know that they have a choice on this."

These companies come through neighborhoods like Downey and claim to be working closely with local water districts and cities. Residents have been targeted in Norwalk, Downey, Maywood and Huntington Park.

Some claim to have been approached by a company called Greentide Inc., allegedly claiming a new low-flush toilet law does exist and offering to install one for free. The contractors then take a signed form from the resident to the water district to collect up to $165 through a rebate program that encourages, but does not require, compliance. Eyewitness News made repeated phone calls to Greentide Inc., but they have gone unanswered.

"And what the company will do is replace the toilets and they will claim the rebate," said Aguilar. "And this way they can take some money out of this and the like. The resident can also do the rebate themselves, it's either way."

The voluntary high-efficiency toilet program is in place in a number of cities to help conserve water, though no laws have been put in place that require residents to comply. The programs are strictly voluntary.

"Dollar for dollar, what's interesting is this is the single most cost-effective thing anyone can do to save water," said David Hill, Central Basin Municipal Water District.

Local water districts are now investigating the allegations of contractors misleading residents

"They should ask for their business license, they should ask if they have a license in the city in which they're in and whether or not they have a contractor's license and if they have those, they're legitimate," said Aguilar.


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