N.Y. Contractor Nailed in Home Improvement Scam

March 30, 2005

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced a lawsuit against a Broome County home improvement contractor for making false promises to consumers.

Robert Jester, the owner of Accredit Home Improvement of Vestal, was served with a lawsuit alleging deceptive business practices, fraud, and various violations of consumer protection laws, including the Home Improvement Contracts Law.

According to legal papers, Jester made fraudulent representations and convinced consumers to make large up-front payments for home improvement projects and then seldom completed the job. For those projects that were commenced, the work was shoddy, forcing consumers to hire other companies to make repairs.

Spitzer’s investigation also reportedly revealed that Accredit fails to remedy problems, repeatedly fails to refund money for work left incomplete and materials not furnished, and fails to pay Small Claims Court judgments obtained by consumers. In the past two years, Spitzer’s office has received complaints by six consumers who are seeking at least $27,000 in refunds.

The investigation also reportedly revealed that Accredit fails to comply with state laws requiring that consumer deposits be protected in escrow accounts and that contracts provide each consumer with a three-day right to cancel.

Spitzer is seeking a court order barring Accredit and its owner, Jester, from both the home improvement industry and the door-to-door sales industry unless and until he posts a $200,000 performance bond.

The lawsuit also seeks an order requiring restitution for injured consumers and imposing civil penalties for the violations of law.

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