Bay Area residents team up to fight alleged scam

A group of Peninsula residents allegedly duped by shady furniture salesmen has banded together in an effort to recoup thousands of dollars in money they claimwas scammed from them.

For those who claim to have lost money to a Burlingame sofa store beginning in March, the story is a familiar one: The customers allegedly paid a deposit without getting a receipt, waited months for their furniture while hearing excuses and then discovered the store had closed overnight before Labor Day weekend, they claim.

Numerous customers said Bay Area Sofas, formerly located at 833 Mahler Road, scammed them. The Examiner has found 18 alleged victims, and Burlingame police have received 40 to 50 reports on the store. The lawyer to whom the store owners incorrectly referred customers said he has also received more than 100 calls from those saying they were duped. The alleged victims have found refuge by sharing their stories together online through sites such as Yelp and Yahoo Groups.

Victims have taken action into their own hands by hiring a private investigator and contacting lawyers to file a civil lawsuit, led by victim David Birdsong.

Customer Kanu Patel allegedly lost $7,200 after placing a deposit on three custom sofas in April. Like everyone else, he was told he would receive his furniture in six to eight weeks. He says he was repeatedly informed that there were delays in the shipping process and that a manufacturing company had closed. He and other customers say they recently received a letter from store owner Monte Butler saying the shop was closed.

Phyllis Van Hagen reportedly got the same excuses about her $1,581 love seat and upholstered chair she purchased upfront in March. The store allegedly told her they had lost her fabric — only to call back five minutes later with the fabric after she threatened to cancel her order. Managers even said her furniture fell of a truck on the freeway on the way to her home.

Vicki Rose paid by check for half of her $1,649 sectional in August after managers told her they were having a sale: no tax if paid for by cash orcheck. She realized later that the promise was a red flag.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden arrive at Biden's inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021, in Washington, DC.  (Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS)
Joe Biden issues call for ‘unity’ amidst extreme partisan rancor

‘I will be a president for all Americans,’ he says in inauguration speech

From left, Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jill Biden and President-elect Joe Biden wave as they arrive on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/TNS)
Joe Biden inaugurated as 46th president as Trump era comes to an end

Todd Spangler Detroit Free Press Taking over the reins of government at… Continue reading

San Francisco City Hall is lit in gold and amber to remember victims as part of a national Memorial to Lives Lost to COVID-19 on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
San Francisco joins national COVID memorial ceremony

San Francisco took part Tuesday in the first national Memorial to Lives… Continue reading

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
With executive orders, Biden to reverse Trump policies on environment, immigration

Evan Halper Los Angeles Times President-elect Joe Biden will move swiftly to… Continue reading

Private vehicles were banned from much of Market Street in January 2020, causing bike ridership on the street to increase by 25 percent and transit efficiency by as much as 12 percent. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA board approves new Better Market Street legislation

Advocates say traffic safety improvements don’t go far enough to make up for lost bikeway

Most Read