Attorney General Shuts Down Construction Scams Targeting Ike Victims
The Texas Attorney General’s Office yesterday charged three men with operating an unlawful construction scheme that targeted Hurricane Ike victims, including those in the Bellaire and West University areas.
According to the action filed by the state, Benton R. Barber operated 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 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.
The businesses 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 AG’s Office said the defendants’ materials urged the owners of damaged homes 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.
The companies purported to offer insurance carrier negotiation and insurance adjustment services to customers who paid a fee. Because of these claims, the unlawful marketing materials were designed to convince homeowners that hiring the defendants would help facilitate relationships and payments form insurance carriers, the Attorney General said.
The Texas Department of Insurance is the state agency that regulates insurance carriers. That agency referred the case to the Office of the Attorney General for enforcement.
Monday’s enforcement action charged the three men with violating the Texas Insurance Code and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The Office of the Attorney General is seeking restitution for any homeowners who purchased the defendants’ fraudulent services.
Additionally, the state is seeking a civil penalty of up to $20,000 for each of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act violations.
Repeated attempts to contact any of the defendants at their various companies were unsuccessful.