SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) - More than 50 people say so-called janitorial franchisor Stratus Building Solutions of Orange defrauded them in a cold-blooded "corporate scam" aimed at Spanish speakers.
The 51 Latino plaintiffs say GoldeneyeHoldings dba Stratus Building Solutions of Orange ran a "simple" scam that targeted "victims who don't speak English by taking out ads in Spanish speaking publications."
"The advertisements seek to attract Latino immigrants with promises of financial freedom if they purchase janitorial franchises from defendant Stratus. The advertisements encourage prospective franchisees to immediately call or visit 'Fernando,' one of its sales representatives," according to the Superior Court complaint.
The complaint does not state how much each plaintiff had to pay to buy a so-called franchise. But they say Stratus made them promises it did not deliver.
"(T)he plaintiff's attempts to achieve the 'America Dream' was thwarted by the new American reality - the corporate scam," the complaint states.
Lead plaintiff Alfred Mendoza, and 50 more, say that regardless of they responded to the ads by calling or showing up in person, "Fernando" discussed the terms and conditions of the franchise agreements in Spanish.
The complaint states: "During his 'pitch,' 'Fernando' informs those that are interested in purchasing a Stratus franchise that Stratus sells sixteen (16) different franchises, franchises that will earn the prospective franchisee between $6,000 a year to $204,000 a year. During this presentation, plaintiffs are enticed to purchase the franchises because Stratus guarantees a certain monthly income based upon the size of their franchise. Moreover, Stratus promises the prospective franchisees that their cleaning locations would be geographically located in close proximity to their residence and that they would be guaranteed to make a higher hourly rate because their contracts were extremely lucrative.
"Once the prospective franchisee agrees to purchase a franchise, 'Fernando' immediately pulls out a franchise agreement in English and immediately insists that the prospective franchisee sign the agreement in order to reserve a franchise since it contends that its franchising opportunities are about to be sold out.
"Once the prospective franchisee signs the agreement and pays the franchise fee, he is informed by 'Fernando' that Stratus will be calling the franchisee shortly to inform them of the location of their new franchise. Despite these promises, none of the prospective franchisees are ever given the franchise they purchased nor are they ever provided with a refund from Stratus for its inability to provide the franchise it promised.
"In the present case, each of the plaintiffs purchased a franchise from Stratus and none of them ever received the franchise they were promised by "Fernando", while acting as an agent for Stratus.
The complaint does not name any individual defendants, nor does it list an address for Stratus or Goldeneye.
The plaintiffs seek damages for fraud, breach of contract and violations of the California Business & Professions Code.
They are represented by Eric Aguilera with Bohm, Matsen, Kegel & Aguilera of Costa Mesa.
Neither the law firm nor Stratus responded to requests for comment.