An Illinois judge has ordered "hail storm chaser" Robert Olson to pay $1.1 million in penalties and $574,000 in restitution to consumers. Olson and his company, Hail Restoration inc., allegedly solicited storm-related roof repair jobs in the Chicago area and collected down payments but never did the work.
"This was a particularly horrible case of home repair fraud that cost consumers hundreds of thousands of dollars," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said. "Under (this) order, Robert Olson will no longer be able to knock on consumers doors and use Hail Restoration to bilk consumers out of hard-earned dollars needed for home repair."
The defendants also were permanently prohibited from doing home repair in the state of Illinois.
Madigans office has received a total of 150 consumer complaints against Olson and Hail Restoration, alleging he accepted down payments from Illinois residents and then failed to repair damages to the consumers roofs. At last 30 complaints were filed by senior citizens.
In December 2004, Madigan filed a lawsuit against Olson and Hail Restoration, alleging Olson and his team of sales representatives traveled the Chicago-area going door-to-door to solicit work by claiming consumers homes had sustained roof damage during storms. Many of the consumers signed contracts during the first visit by a Hail Restoration representative to their homes.
Madigan said that as part of Hail Restorations scam, Olson and his sales representatives told prospective customers that repairs could be done to their homes at no cost to the customers. Olson negotiated, without a proper license, with the customers insurance companies. The customers then signed over to Olson the checks that were paid by their insurance companies to cover damages. However, after receiving the payments, Hail Restoration never made the repairs.
According to Madigans lawsuit, on one occasion in June 2004, the defendants informed an elderly Maywood resident that she was entitled to have the hail storm damage to her home repaired at no cost. The elderly woman signed a contract with the defendants and signed over a $7,843 insurance check to the defendants. Following that, the defendants never showed up at her home to begin the repair work.
The defendants were charged in December 2004 with multiple violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Home Repair and Remodeling Act for failing to complete the work for which they contracted and, in many cases where work was begun, for performing substandard work.
Madigans lawsuit also alleged the defendants violated the law because they never obtained either a roofing license or a public adjusters license in Illinois and failed to inform customers of this. Finally, the lawsuit charged that consumers were not provided with the legally-required Home Repair: Know Your Consumer Rights pamphlet.