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New Jersey Authorities Charge Home Improvement Contractors with Defrauding Sandy Victims

new-jersey-authorities-charge-home-improvement-contractors-with-defrauding-sandy-victimsOfficials estimate that Hurricane Sandy, which hit the Atlantic in October, 2012, caused nearly $30 billion in damage to property in New Jersey, including nearly 350,000 homes that were damaged by the storm. Earlier this month, New Jersey officials announced that two home improvement contractors have been charged with using deceptive practices to fleece the federal government out of more than a million dollars in relief funds. They also say that the contractors took homeowner money and then failed to begin work or to finish work on a number on as many as 12 different homes.

Under New Jersey law, a home improvement contractor can be liable for fraud for a variety of acts:

  • Knowing omitting or failing to disclose a material fact, including knowledge that a project will not be completed by an agreed upon date
  • Intentional misrepresentation—making statements the contractor knows or has reason to know are not true. This can include promises to use certain materials or references to the skill level of any worker.
  • Regulatory violations—this is the most common type of infringement and may result in treble damages

According to state authorities, the homeowners in the cases involved here received funds through the RREM (Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation) program. The state of New Jersey has demanded restitution of all funds received by the two contractors, as well as a court order permanently prohibiting the owners of the companies from participating in any way with companies doing home improvement work in New Jersey moving forward.

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