Texas AG Shuts Down Trio Targeting Hurricane Victims

April 14, 2009

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has charged three men with operating an unlawful construction scheme that targeted Hurricane Ike victims.

The AG’s lawsuit charges Benton R. Barber with operating several unregistered businesses – 1 Day Roof, Roof Teams and Roof All Texas – from a single Houston location. At the same address, co-defendant Cody Miller is alleged to have operated Green Star Roofing with Barber. Another defendant, Jacob R. Horn of the Dallas area, owned HB Roof Partners LLC, HBCI Texas Ltd. and Horn Brothers Roofing, according to the AG’s office.

The businesses allegedly sent deceptive direct mailer advertisements and delivered door-to-door fliers to homeowners who were hardest hit by Hurricane Ike. The marketing materials referenced the official-sounding “Texas Department of Insurance Agency,” and bore the state of Texas seal. The defendants’ materials urged damaged homes’ owners to contact the presumably state-sponsored “Disaster Relief Management Team.” Because the fliers provided information about the defendants’ businesses, recipients were led to believe the defendants’ firms were endorsed by a legitimate state agency.

According to the AG, the defendants’ companies purported to offer insurance carrier negotiation and insurance adjustment services to customers who paid a fee. Thus, the unlawful marketing materials were intended to convince homeowners that hiring the defendants would help facilitate relationships and payments form insurance carriers. The Texas Department of Insurance is the state agency that regulates insurance carriers. The agency referred the case to the Office of the Attorney General for enforcement.

Today’s enforcement action charged the defendants with violating the Texas Insurance Code and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA). The Office of the Attorney General is seeking restitution for any homeowners who purchased the defendants’ fraudulent services. The state seeks a civil penalty of up to $20,000 for each of the defendants’ DTPA violations.

Source: Texas Attorney General’s Office

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