State authorities are seeking nearly $500,000 in restitution and penalties from 40 contractors they say cheated customers, or left jobs undone in the last quarter of 2015.

It's part of an overall enforcement crackdown that's resulted in violation notices against a total of 223 contractors, seeking more than $2.56 million, over the course of the year, according to the state Attorney General's Office.

“With every dollar we secure for mistreated consumers we reinforce our commitment to protect the integrity of the home improvement marketplace by ensuring that contractors comply with the law," it said.

A breakdown of the 40 contractors — directed to pay a total of $321,477 in restitution to consumers in amounts ranging from $360 to $50,000, for allegedly performing shoddy work — doesn't say specifically what violation each is alleged to have committed. But collectively, the group is accused of offenses such as failing to complete work that consumers had paid for in advance and failing to refund deposits.

Other alleged offenses include failure to provide consumers with detailed, written contracts for home improvement projects costing more than $500. Twenty-two of the companies were also cited for operating without being registered with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, which is required under New Jersey law.

Officials said some contractors have cooperated with the DCA, agreeing to consent orders requiring them to pay penalties and to resolve customer complaints. Some of the unregistered companies have applied for registration.

The DCA offers the following tips for avoiding being scammed by a contractor:

Learn about any contractor before deciding to hire them. It is ideal to work with a contractor who is recommended by people you know. It also is advisable to ask the contractor for references and speak with those references about the contractor's work.

Contact the Division of Consumer Affairs to learn if the contractor is duly registered to perform home improvement work in New Jersey, and learn whether the contractor has been the subject of consumer complaints and/or legal action by the Division, or to learn more about contractors who have been cited by the Division. You can call the Division at 800-242-5846 or use the Division's website, NJConsumerAffairs.gov.

Before hiring the contractor, demand a copy of the contractor's liability insurance policy and contact the insurer to learn whether the policy is valid.

Obtain a written contract. Contracts for home improvement projects costing $500 or more must be in writing. They must include the legal name, business address, and registration number of the contractor as well as a start date, completion date, description of the work to be done, and the total price.

Make sure all warranties and guarantees are in writing, and that the contract states the name brands or quality/grades of the materials to be used. Ensure that all applicable construction permits are obtained by the contractor, from the appropriate municipality.

Remember that it is customary not to pay for the entire project in advance.

Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed can file a complaint with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.

The contractors cited in the last quarter of last year are:

  • Patch N Save Roofing, Cherry Hill (Registered)
  • Baby Boy Mann t/a ABC's Contracting, Williamstown (Registered)
  • Complete Home Maintenance, Maple Shade (Unregistered)
  • Stephan Elbaz t/a Interior Motif, Hoboken (Unregistered)
  • Forchetti Pools & Spas, Inc. d/b/a A-1 Pools & Spas, New Hope, PA (Registered)
  • Five Star Floor and Cleaning Corporation, Inc, West New York (Unregistered)
  • Master Real Home Improvement Limited Liability Company, Perth Amboy (Unregistered)
  • Stephen Binn t/a Eagle Carpentry, Middletown (Unregistered)
  • Barresse Enterprises Limited Liability Company, Hackettstown (Registered)
  • Easy Way Construction Limited Liability Company, Cinnaminson (Unregistered)
  • Hometown Services Group LLC, Williamstown (Unregistered)
  • Barry Construction Co., Bordentown (Unregistered)
  • Burga Construction, LLC Randolph, (Unregistered)
  • John Eustice t/a Eustice Carpentry, Green Brook (Registered)
  • George Lucidi t/a Lucidi Construction, Woodbury (Unregistered)
  • Jeff Miller d/b/a Madison Contracting & Home Improvement, Parlin (Unregistered)
  • Raymond Higbee Ventnor City, (Unregistered)
  • Domenic Angello t/a Affordable Fence, Somers Point (Registered)
  • Goldenhands Handyman, L.L.C., Galloway (Registered)
  • David Adamson, Toms River (Unregistered)
  • John Purcell d/b/a Yellow Stone Construction, Somerset (Unregistered)
  • John Derezze d/b/a JCM Services, Hightstown (Registered)
  • Daniel Gallucci d/b/a Total Exterior Home Remodeling, Glendora (Unregistered)
  • Floor Express LLC, Eatontown (Registered)
  • ALKM LLC, Lawrenceville (Unregistered)
  • James Gorman, Marmora (Unregistered)
  • Fred Allen Builders, Clayton (Registered)
  • Saturnino Lebron III d/b/a Nino's Construction, Westampton (Registered)
  • Ricardo Lopez t/a Richard Painting, Morristown (Unregistered)
  • Nu Look Home Design, Inc., Glen Burnie, MD (Registered)
  • Warran Evans t/a Construction Concepts, Jersey City (Unregistered)
  • Whitney Construction Limited Liability Company, Clark (Unregistered)
  • Wonderful Flooring LLC Newark, (Registered)
  • Anthony Peterson t/a Pro-Max Paving, Jackson (Registered)
  • Ken Hofler Mason Contractor, Phillipsburg (Unregistered)
  • Kevlar Builders & Developers LLC / All City Construction, Egg Harbor Township (Registered)
  • ICMS Enterprises Inc. d/b/a I/CMS, Sparta (Registered)
  • Shawn Engelhart t/a Home Alterations, Andover (Registered)
  • James Muff t/a Eddie’s General Contracting, Magnolia (Unregistered)
  • Amalfi Development Incorporated Newark, (Registered)

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