Attorney General Cuomo Sues National Home Protection, Inc. For Home Warranty Scheme That Defrauded Consumers Nationwide Out Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars
NEW YORK, NY (April 27, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that his office has filed suit against National Home Protection, Inc. (NHP), a New York City-based company, and three principals, Leo Serrur, David Seruya, and Victor Hakim in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan for a deceptive home warranty scheme that defrauded consumers in New York and across the country out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Attorney General also applied for and was granted a temporary restraining order freezing the bank accounts and other assets of the company and principals, and preventing NHP from selling any more of its home warranty plans out of New York pending further order by the Court.
“This company denied homeowners’ legitimate claims, deceived consumers with false advertising, and ultimately ripped off customers who paid good money to protect their investment,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “This was an ongoing fraud that systemically cheated consumers across this country.”
NHP sells yearly home warranty plans that include promises to repair or replace consumers’ household systems and appliances that break during the contract term. However, the Attorney General’s investigation into the company revealed that, more often than not, the company failed to honor these warranties and routinely denied customers’ valid claims for fraudulent reasons. The investigation also uncovered other fraudulent practices by NHP, including canceling customers’ home warranty plans for no reason and failing to honor advertised offers for free $50 gift cards for each contract year customers signed up for. The Attorney General’s office has received more than 340 complaints against NHP from consumers in at least thirty-two states, including New York, and more than 950 complaints have been filed with the Better Business Bureau.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit charges NHP and its principals with making multiple misrepresentations and deceptive advertising, including claims that NHP would replace customers’ systems and appliances “regardless of age, make or model” with “no home inspection required to enroll.” It also charges NHP with fraudulently failing to honor its home warranty plans and deceptively advertising that consumers would receive a free $50 gift card “today” when, in fact, that gift card was a rebate offer subject to undisclosed and restrictive wait periods. Even those consumers who complied with the wait period routinely did not receive the gift card. The lawsuit also charges NHP with violating New York state laws by failing to:
- Register as a service provider and provide proof of financial responsibility to the State of New York Superintendent of Insurance
- Provide consumers with a rebate check within sixty days of receipt of consumers’ proper requests for redemption
- Provide a rebate form on its Internet site
- Offer refunds in accordance with New York law
Attorney General Cuomo’s lawsuit seeks to permanently prevent NHP from operating in New York State or, in the alternative, cease its operations until it registers with the New York State Department of Insurance and demonstrates proof of financial responsibility. The Attorney General also seeks restitution and damages for aggrieved consumers, penalties and costs.
Consumers with complaints against National Home Protection are urged to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Frauds hotline at 800-771-7755. New York consumers may also contact their local regional office. Contact information about the Attorney General’s regional offices can be found online at www.ag.ny.gov.
The case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Laura J. Levine, Harkiranjit Chahal, and Ellen Fried under the supervision of Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau Chief Joy Feigenbaum and Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Michael Berlin.