A.G. Schneiderman Seeks Penalties, Refunds For Victims Of Alleged Fraudulent Home Improvement Contractor
Suit Alleges That Contractor Accepted Payments For Work That Was Subpar Or Never Performed
Schneiderman: Dishonest Contractors Who Defraud New York Homeowners Will Be Held Accountable
BUFFALO – Attorney General Eric Schniederman today announced a lawsuit against a Western New York home improvement contractor for defrauding consumers by accepting payments for work he never performed. According to the petition, Justin Jerge, who does business as JRJ Contracting, has collected thousands of dollars for home repairs that he never provided or for supplies he never ordered. The petition also alleges that when Jerge did do home repairs, his work was shoddy.
“With more and more New Yorkers making improvements to their homes this season, unsuspecting homeowners can easily fall prey to unscrupulous contractors,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “My office will continue to seek out dishonest contractors who defraud innocent New Yorkers and ensure they’re held accountable.”
In one case described in the lawsuit, Jerge took more than $50,000 from the parents of a disabled adult who were seeking home improvements to allow them to keep their daughter in their home. Jerge did not complete the work as promised, and the work he did complete was substandard. In another case, Jerge took $6,250 from a member of the Armed Services and never did any work.
Attorney General Schneiderman’s lawsuit alleges that Jerge took advance payments from consumers but repeatedly failed to deposit advance payments from consumers into an escrow account, as required by state law. Justice Jeremiah J. Moriarty III, of Erie County State Supreme Court, signed a temporary restraining order that freezes Jerge’s bank accounts and prohibits him from accepting any advance payments from consumers.
The Attorney General’s Office is seeking a court order barring Jerge from the home improvement industry unless he posts a $200,000 bond. The lawsuit also seeks refunds for consumers and civil penalties for his violations of consumer protection laws.
Attorney General Schneiderman offers the following tips for consumers dealing with home contractors:
- Never agree to have work done on the spot, especially when potential contractors are door-to-door marketing; determine exactly what you want done, then seek out a qualified contractor;
- Shop around: get at least three estimates from reputable contractors that include specific information about the materials and services to be provided;
- Ask for references: check with the Better Business Bureau, banks, suppliers, and neighbors; always contact any references provided to you;
- Insist on a written contract that includes the price and description of the work needed;
- Do not pay unreasonable advance sums: negotiate a payment schedule tied to the completion of specific stages of the job; never pay the full price up front; and
- Remember that you have three days to cancel after signing a home improvement contract, but all cancellations must be in writing.
Individuals with complaints against Jerge should contact Attorney General Schneiderman’s consumer help line at (800) 771-7755 or his Buffalo Regional Office at (716) 853-8400.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General James Morrissey and Karen Davis, Senior Consumer Fraud Representative in the Buffalo Regional Office which is led by Michael Russo, Assistant Attorney General in Charge. The Buffalo Regional Office is a part of the Division of Regional Offices, led by Martin J. Mack, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Offices.