A South Jersey contracting company and its owner allegedly employed “deceptive practices” to obtain Superstorm Sandy relief funds from nine homeowners who sought construction work, New Jersey authorities announced.
Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Division of Consumer Affairs have filed a complaint against D.J.M. Households Inc., doing business as Jersey Pride Home Renovations, and its owner, William A. Wolford, according to a state news release.
“More than five years after Superstorm Sandy, some New Jersey residents are still suffering from its devastation. Unscrupulous contractors have added to that agony,” Porrino said. “Deceiving and profiting from displaced homeowners by making false promises is a cruel abuse and will not be tolerated.”
The complaint alleges that, among other things, Wolford and his company, which maintained an office in Cherry Hill and later in Mullica Hill, received more than $348,000 in federal relief funds and failed to complete the contracted work.
In some instances, the defendants allegedly delayed filing for necessary building or zoning permits without providing any explanation, causing homeowners to be displaced for longer and landlords to lose rental income, according to the news release.
The state also alleges that the defendants sought to pressure consumers into signing contracts by including terms and conditions that the quote was only valid for 48 hours and that work would be scheduled on a first come, first serve basis, the release states.
The complaint seeks consumer restitution and civil penalties. In addition, the state seeks to permanently ban Wolford from doing home elevation and/or home improvement work in New Jersey.
“Rooting out and disciplining rogue contractors who have preyed on some of the state’s most vulnerable homeowners is a priority for the Division,” said Sharon M. Joyce, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “As long as there are those who would take advantage of others’ desperation, we will continue to be vigilant and protect those in need.”
The public can report consumer abuse by filing an online complaint or calling 1-800-242-5846.