ROSEVILLE, Calif. (CN) – Fifty-nine senior citizens claim Senior Care Advocates defrauded them of thousands of dollars apiece by charging to “qualify” them for Medi-Cal. They say the Roseville-based company sent people to their homes and charged them $5,000 to $25,000 apiece for a “service” that was “purely illusory, unnecessary and a fraud.”
The Better Business Bureau, on its website, lists the principal for Senior Care Advocates as attorney and CEO James Walker. The BBB gives the business an “F” rating based on the number of complaints it has received and how the company deals with them. The BBB website adds that it “understands that this company has filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy.”
In June 2008, the Bay Area-based California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform reported that “The California Attorney General’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse has obtained a permanent injunction against James A. Walker, James Walker Elder Law Office, Senior Care Advocates, and Senior Care Advocates of Nevada, Inc. enjoining them from providing legal services, engaging in or performing any act or practice of Medi-Cal Planning, providing legal services of any nature or any kind and engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
“The injunction, the result of a settlement agreement with Mr. Walker and his attorneys, is the outcome of a civil suit filed by the Attorney General alleging violation of Business and Professions Codes §17200 and 17500.”
Walker is not a party to the recent complaint in Placer County Court.
The complaint states: “The wrongful acts alleged herein first arose when plaintiffs were contacted by SCA starting in or around 2007. Typically, SCA would send a representative to plaintiffs’ homes to pitch the sale of their services. SCA specifically guaranteed that they could qualify plaintiffs for Medi-Cal should the need ever arise. Because the plaintiffs in this case are in most cases elderly, or were caring for elderly relatives, the ability to qualify for Medi-Cal was of paramount importance. In ‘qualifying’ for Medi-Cal, SCA also guaranteed that plaintiffs or their relatives would have access to an appropriate skilled nursing facility through Medi-Cal, at no additional cost to them. In return for this ‘qualification’ service, SCA represented that the plaintiffs’ only financial obligation was to pay SCA a fee ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 (depending entirely on plaintiff’s ability to pay) in return for the guaranteed results. While SCA normally charged $10,000 per person for their ‘qualification’ service, they regularly changed the price of the service in order to complete the transaction if SCA determined that they could not get more money from the plaintiffs because of their financial circumstances.
“Each of these representations was false. The undisclosed truth was that plaintiffs already qualified for Medi-Cal based upon their financial condition, without any assistance of any sort from SA. Moreover, SCA already well understood that the vast majority of plaintiffs already qualified for Medi-Cal based upon their financial condition, and those that did not would not be able to ‘qualify’ despite SCA’s ‘qualification’ service. Thus, the entire premise of the expensive transaction that defendants conspired to sell plaintiffs was illusory.
“As a result of their conspiracy, defendants financially defrauded elders like these plaintiffs by having them pay SCA grossly excessive fees to fictitiously ‘qualify’ them for Medi-Cal when they would have ‘qualified’ anyway.
“On information and belief, defendants conspired together to foist their deceptive scheme on many gullible seniors or their families, like the plaintiffs here, convincing them of defendants ability to qualify them for Medi-Cal and qualify them for placement in a skilled nursing facility at no additional cost to them, without bothering to tell them that they already qualified for Medi-Cal with no help from defendants whatsoever. Thus, what SCA ‘sold’ the plaintiffs for many thousands of dollars was purely illusory, unnecessary and a fraud.
“As a result of their conspiracy, defendants financially defrauded elders like these plaintiffs by having them pay SCA grossly excessive fees to fictitiously ‘qualify’ them for Medi-Cal when they would have ‘qualified’ anyway.”
The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages, treble damages and punitive damages for fraud. They are represented by Mark Redmon with Attorneys Against Abuse of Elders of Sacramento, and Lawrence Salisbury with Majors & Fox of San Diego.