“Premium Home Service” warnings

The questionable companies based around Yosef Shmuel Bernath

Yosef Shmuel Bernath, owner of PHS (courtesy of Facebook, a small segment of the original image is shown under “Fair Use”).

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Most of our group first encountered Yosef Bernath, and his web of fake and suspicious companies, the same way; through a business marked on Google maps for home services. We each needed some work done and gave them a call; they present themselves as well-reviewed local businesses. When calling, usually an operator with a non-US accent answers, but people of all nations live in the US, so this raises no alarm bells. It turns out that this phone operator is in fact sitting the Philippines, in the call center contracted by Yosef Bernath to support his activities.

Often no technician shows up, and a little further research shows that this company is renowned across the internet for taking money, but not performing. A request for a refund, in line with the electronic agreement, is usually refused; quite rudely. We decided to dig in further to the company and discovered a web of fake businesses with Yosef at the center. Reaching out through Facebook identified a number of other people who’d had poor experiences, and it was decided to catalogue all the available information on this website. A couple of close friends of the Bernath family in the Chicago area, unhappy at the poor businesses practices, have been willing to provide a lot of inside information, under condition of anonymity.

Many customers never see a technician. Some will have a technician turn up, but either no work will be done (despite large amounts of extra money charged), or very poor quality and even dangerous work will be carried out. Some of the technicians do seem to be legitimate.

PHS knowingly operates multiple illegal practices, including but not limited to:

  • Non-payment of taxes
  • Operating without Worker’s Compensation insurance
  • Massive use of fake reviews, contrary to FTC regulations
  • Maintenance of thousands of fake business listings on Google, contravening many state laws
  • Use of technicians who are unlicensed and uninsured.
  • Recording of calls without notice, in contravention of many state wire-tap laws
  • Operation of improperly insured vehicles

Premium Home Service turned out to be the front for multiple questionable or simply non-existent businesses, which you can read about here.

Alongside the Premium Home Service trading name is the legal entity, “Best GDR”. Best GDR is registered as a marketing business, but is the entity that the money from PHS is funneled through. The quantity of money is not small; in a typical month, Premium Home Service use their network of hundreds of fake businesses on Google to pull in thousands of “customers”, leading to gross monthly income of more than US$2 million, with net income of around $540,000.

Premium Home Service was set up in 2021, and is confusingly similar in name to the legitimate “Premium Home Services” company operating in the DC area. This company has even set up a warning on their website about Premium Home Service.

The news media in several locations have performed investigations into PHS, but they don’t tend to dig very deep. Some examples are listed below:

Premium Home Service is being investigated by the Wisconsin Bureau of Consumer Protection, through one of their front companies, Grand Electric. They are also under investigation by the Sherriff’s office in Racine, Wyoming.

PHS work with a number of other companies to keep their organization running.

  • Exelcius is the primary partner business, set up to operate a call center for PHS in the Philippines.
  • Twilio provide phone services and multiple “softphone” numbers, to provide local numbers to the hundreds of fake businesses listed on Google.
  • ReadySign are used to process the “electronic agreement” for PHS’s subscription.
  • Bank of America does the banking for PHS.
  • Maverick Payments of California processes credit card charges for PHS.
  • Stripe is used as a credit card payment processor.
  • Authorize.net is used by PHS as a payment processor.

PHS have been kicked off of several platforms.

  • ZohoDesk was being used to provide email service for the call center in the Philippines. They shut off their services to PHS after receiving information on PHS’s questionable activities.
  • TransferWise was being used to transfer money from the US to overseas locations. As of May 10th 2022, the Best GDR TransferWise account was disabled.
  • Byline Bank, in Chicago, managed most of the banking for PHS. They shut down all of PHS’s accounts in early July 2022, for breaking their terms and conditions. They also insisted that the Bernaths close all personal accounts and empty out their safe deposit boxes.