Complaints about firms, contractors bilking Sandy victims still coming in

More than a year and a half after Sandy hit New Jersey, the state is still getting complaints from victims who say they’ve been ripped of by unscrupulous contractors and companies.

A statewide Sandy Fraud Task force was formed about a year ago.

And steady influx of fraud complaints is continuing as more homeowners with storm damage rebuild, said Elie Honig, director of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.

“There were so many people who needed repairs and not so many contractors. So now a lot of people are getting around to the renovations,” he said Wednesday. “I think another factor is that the federal money, the FEMA money, is just now coming into play. So any time there’s a big pot of money, there’s going to be fraud that goes along with it.”

Price-gouging lawsuits the state filed against gas stations and hotels for taking advantage of N.J. residents in the immediate aftermath of Sandy recovered more than $800,000 in reimbursement and penalties.

The task force also was successful in getting thousands of dollars in back wages for New Jersey residents for Sandy cleanup work they performed for an unregistered Idaho-based temp firm, Honig said.

Honig said the task force will stay in business as long as it’s needed to help resolve victims’ complaints. Some complaints can be resolved quickly, he said, but complicated criminal fraud cases can take months.

Consumers can register complaints by calling the task force hotline at 855-726-3939.

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