NJ Homeowners Scammed By Contractor Will Get Money Back Under $442K State Settlement
TRENTON – State officials have announced a $442,000 settlement with a South Jersey home improvement contractor accused of ripping off over a dozen homeowners — most of them seniors — for thousands of dollars each, with little to no work done.
James “Jimmy” Barreras, of Cinnaminson, has agreed to dissolve his business, South Jersey Home Contracting.
Of the settlement amount, more than half — $257,000 — would be consumer restitution, according to state Attorney General Matthew Platkin.
Barreras called ‘scammer’ in homeowner reviews
The settlement resolves a state lawsuit filed last fall, alleging that SJHC and Barreras engaged in unlawful business practices, including against senior citizens.
In addition to paying back a total of 13 consumers, the settlement includes a $185,000 civil penalty.
Barreras also was ordered to dissolve his Woodbury-based company by year’s end. Its home improvement contractor registration was also permanently revoked.
On the consumer review site, homeadvisor.com, multiple reviews accused Barreras of taking large amounts of money up front, then closing up shop and failing to return calls or text messages when work was not being done at the property.
A person who said they were a Riverside homeowner wrote in December 2021, “ THIS COMPANY IS A CRIMINALLY ACTIVE SCAMMER!!! I signed a contract on Sept. 28, 2021 requiring $11.750.00 deposit to hire this company.”
The reviewer said two months later, when no work was done, “I received a call from the Architect checking on the progress of the project only to be informed that this company is NOW CLOSED AND NO ONE IS GETTING THEIR MONEY BACK.”
They said they filed a report with Riverside Police for theft by deception and sought legal advice.
Another review was from a person who said they were an 89-year-old homeowner in Cherry Hill, who said “I gave him $15,000 and he went out of business after damaging my property, taking my current kitchen countertopss left porta potty and dumpster out front.”
Platkin touted the settlement as not only putting the company out of business, but also providing financial relief to victims who were scammed.
“We will not allow unscrupulous contractors to enrich themselves at the expense of New Jersey consumers, especially our senior residents,” he said.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse can file an online complaint with the Division by visiting its website or by calling the Division at 1-800-242-5846 or 973-504-6200.
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