N.J. files fraud complaints against Sandy contractors for ‘unconscionable consumer practices’

    Creative Commons image.

    Creative Commons image.

    Three Jersey Shore contractors and their companies allegedly employed “deceptive business practices” in obtaining Sandy relief funds from homeowners who paid them or repair and elevated their storm-damaged properties, New Jersey authorities announced.

    Attorney General Christopher S. Porriono and the Division of Consumer Affairs have filed two separate complaints against father and son contractors, Paul Zaidinski, Sr., and Paul Zaidinski, Jr., and their Point Pleasant-based company, Shore House Lifters and contractor George Rex and his Pleasantville-based companies, Atlantic Coast Housing Lifting, LLC and George Rex Construction, LLC.

    The complaints allege that the defendants engaged in “unconscionable consumer practices,” including taking money from consumers to renovate, rebuild, and/or elevate Sandy-damaged homes and then failing to begin work, performing the work in a substandard manner, and/or abandoning unfinished projects without returning for weeks, months, or at all.

    The state received 51 consumer complaints against Zaidinskis and Shore House Lifters, including 42 from Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM) recipients who lost $1,046,451 of their federal relief funds, three from Landlord Rental Repair Program (LRRP) recipients who lost $79,257, and six from homeowners that did not receive federal funding, authorities allege. 

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    In addition, the state received six complaints from RREM recipients that allegedly lost $277,100 in federal relief funds to George Rex, Atlantic Coast House Lifting and George Rex Construction.

    The complaint seeks consumer restitution, reimbursement of attorneys’ fees and costs, and civil penalties. In addition, the state seeks to permanently ban the defendants from owning or operating a home improvement business within New Jersey. 

    “For people devastated by Superstorm Sandy, those federal grants represented a chance to rebuild their homes and begin putting their lives back together. But that didn’t happen for the alleged victims in these cases,” said Steve Lee, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “That healing process was thwarted by the alleged actions of these contractors who walked off with the grant money, leaving behind unfinished projects, shoddy workmanship, and construction that was not up to code.”

    Since the storm. New Jersey has filed seven civil actions against home improvement contractors.

    The public can report consumer abuse by filing an online complaint or calling 1-800-242-5846.

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