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Post date: November 17 2014

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Settlement Against Fraudulent Driveway Paving Contractors

Southern Tier And Central New York Homeowners Were Targeted, Victims Have Until December 27th To Seek Restitution For Shoddy And Illegal Work

BINGHAMTON – Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today announced that his office has obtained a judgment against home improvement contractors who repeatedly and persistently ripped off customers in the Southern Tier and Central New York by going door-to-door seeking to pave and repair driveways. The contractors performed shoddy and incomplete work, intimidated customers into paying more than the negotiated price, and failed to abide by New York’s home improvement contract laws.

“This judgment makes it clear that my office will continue to fight for middle class families and hold scammers accountable when they take advantage of ordinary New Yorkers,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “There has to be one set of rules for everyone, from Wall Street to Main Street, and I am pleased we were able to seek justice and secure restitution for victims.”

Attorney General Schneiderman entered into an agreement to settle his investigation against Joshua Cooper of Ovid, NY and Robert Cooper of Romulus, NY, who were doing business under the name Finger Lakes Asphalt. As part of the agreement, a judgment was entered against the Coopers requiring them to pay $8,150 in restitution to six consumers who were harmed as a result of illegal and fraudulent conduct. Additionally, any other consumers who believe they have been ripped off by the Coopers or Finger Lakes Asphalt may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office by December 27, 2014 to seek restitution.

The investigation into this matter revealed that the Coopers would go through neighborhoods knocking on doors and representing that they had an extra load of blacktop in the back of their trucks. They claimed that they could give the homeowners a good price for the work and that they would do quality work. They would quote a price for the work, but did not provide homeowners with written contracts prior to performing the work. They would begin working on the driveway immediately and then approach the homeowner asking for payment in an amount greater than initially quoted. If homeowners would protest, the Coppers would intimidate them until they paid the higher price. Additionally, the work performed was often poorly done and incomplete.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey A. Tait signed a Consent Order and Judgment against the Coopers prohibiting them from harassing and intimidating consumers into allowing them to perform driveway paving work in the future and inflating initially quoted prices upon completion of the work. Justice Tait also ordered them to comply with New York’s Home Improvement Contract Law by furnishing consumers with written contracts before any work is performed, which include, among other things, a description of the work to be performed, estimated dates when the work is to begin and be substantially completed, and contain a notice that the consumer has three business days to cancel.

Attorney General Schneiderman offers the following tips to consumers who are considering hiring a home improvement contractor:

  • Never agree to have work done on the spot, especially when potential contractors are marketing door-to-door;
  • Determine exactly what you want done, then look for 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;
  • Remember that you have three days to cancel after signing a home improvement contract, but all cancellations must be in writing.

Additional information on how to avoid fraudulent home improvement contractors can be found on the Attorney General’s Website here.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Michael J. Danaher, Jr. with the assistance of Sr. Investigator Kathleen Coppersmith of the Binghamton Regional Office. The Binghamton Regional Office is run by Attorney General In-Charge James E. Shoemaker. The Division of Regional Offices is run by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Marty Mack.

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