Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Greene County Prosecutor Stephen K. Haller have announced the indictment of James Urso on felony theft charges relating to his home improvement businesses.
Urso, of Mt. Gilead, operated companies under the names Help Point Restoration LLC and ZunCare Restoration LLC. The indictment alleges that in 2011 and 2012, Urso took nearly $22,000 from four homeowners for roof replacement and other repairs but failed to perform the work, deliver the materials, or provide a refund. If convicted of three counts of Theft and one count of Theft From The Elderly, Urso could face up to four-and-a-half years in prison and a $12,500 fine.
“Consumers need to be cautious about home repair workers that will come knocking on their door this time of year," DeWine said. “The Ohio Attorney General’s Office will not tolerate contractors who take money for jobs and then disappear without ever doing the work.”
“We will continue to aggressively pursue scammers who rip off Greene County residents,” Haller said.
In December 2012, the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section filed a civil lawsuit against Urso and his companies, Help Point Restoration LLC and ZunCare Restoration LLC, for violations of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act. As a result of this lawsuit, Urso was ordered to pay $52,844.09 in consumer restitution and civil penalties to the state of Ohio. To date, he has not paid any money toward restitution.
To avoid home improvement scams and unscrupulous contractors, DeWine advises consumers to:
Check the reputation of a business before work begins. Ask for several references from prior customers and contact them to see if they were satisfied with the company’s performance.
Research previous complaints with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau and consider performing a simple Internet search of the company.
Get multiple estimates. If expensive repairs are recommended during an inspection, do not feel pressured to act immediately. Consult with additional companies to obtain second and third opinions along with competitive estimates for the recommended work.
Receive a written, detailed contract. Make sure the contract includes all important details such as when the work will begin and end and who will be performing the work.
Remember that most door-to-door solicitation contracts must come with a 3-day right to cancel to allow you to reconsider the purchase. No work should commence until the cancellation period has expired.
Do not pay for an entire project up front. Consider paying one-third of the total cost as a down payment, one-third when half of the work is completed to your satisfaction, and the remaining third once the project is successfully completed.
DeWine created the Consumer Protection Section’s Economic Crimes Unit in 2011 to identify criminal conduct in consumer fraud cases and assist Ohio’s prosecuting attorneys in holding scammers criminally accountable. To date, 105 people have been charged with felonies and 66 have been convicted.
The Economic Crimes Unit worked in cooperation with the Greene County Prosecutor's Office and the Bellbrook Police Department on this investigation.
If you suspect a scam or an unfair business practice, report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515 [Call: 800-282-0515] .