In late October of 2012, the State of New Jersey was devastated by the effects of Hurricane Sandy—the deadliest hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. As of March 2014, the resulting damages were estimated to be over $68 billion, with most of the damage having occurred in the beach resort communities along the Jersey Shore. After the storm, residents focused on rebuilding their homes and businesses by working with local contractors specializing in reconstruction due to large-scale disasters.
Contractors Must be Registered in New Jersey
According to the New Jersey Contractor’s Registration Act, “no person shall offer to perform, or engage or attempt to engage in the business of making or selling home improvements unless registered with the Division of Consumer Affairs…”
State investigators are beginning to take action against unregistered contractors, through actions such as questioning individuals who are caught without a state registration number on their vehicle. This is a good tip for consumers, who should only hire a licensed contractor in NJ that display a registration number beginning with “13VH” on their advertising signs and commercial vehicles.
Sting Operations Lead to Arrests of Unlicensed Contractor in NJ
With as many as 1,200 complaints within the first few days after the storm, county prosecutors have gone after unlicensed contractors in NJ for criminal charges. One of the most notable cases of contractor fraud occurred in 2013, when a sting operation resulted in the arrest of 8 alleged unlicensed contractors in NJ. Using a storm-damaged house in Highlands, NJ, agents from the State Attorney General’s Office scheduled appointments for estimates with the suspected individuals. The contractors were arrested after offering grossly inflated and “wildly varying assessments” for rebuilding the home. Four of the suspects were charged with fourth degree criminal offenses, for which they face up to 18 months in jail upon conviction. Most of the contractors were also issued violations by the Division of Consumer Affairs for “unregistered practice of home improvement”, for which they were fined a civic penalty of $2,500.
Speak to a NJ Lawyer About Your Unlicensed Contractor Charge
If you have been charged with a crime as an unlicensed contractor in NJ, you must take action right away. Please call the attorneys of Villani & DeLuca about the violations committed at (732) 965-3350 for a detailed discussion of your rights and options during a free consultation.