While remaining vigilant against post-Hurricane Sandy scams, Assemblywoman Amy H. Handlin is drafting legislation that would double the fines against those who commit fraud after natural disasters, while working with residents and state and local officials on preventing storm scams before they happen. “It takes a special kind of deviant to prey upon those who have tragically lost their home and possessions. They deserve a double dose of penalty,” Handlin, R-Monmouth, said. “I’ve already heard from many constituents who have been targeted by storm scammers who claim to be mold remediators, contractors or financial advisers. We need to deliver a strong message that attempting to steal from storm victims will carry severe penalties.” Constituents who suspect fraud or corruption, or have evidence of waste or abuse of public funds, should contact Assemblywoman Handlin’s office at (732) 787-1170 or AswHandlin@njleg.org. The Assemblywoman will forward incidents to the proper state and local authorities and wants to monitor potential fraud to see if any patterns emerge. “Federal funding to help New Jersey recover will soon be approved and we need to be extra vigilant against unscrupulous schemes that would re-victimize innocent people who have already suffered too much,” Handlin said. “If we keep everyone informed and work together we can ensure that this relief funding doesn’t wind up like the old school construction program in which billions of dollars disappeared in a cloud of waste, fraud and abuse.” Handlin’s legislation would double maximum consumer fraud penalties to $20,000 for a first offense and $40,000 subsequent offenses if the victim had also been victimized by a natural disaster. The penalties mirror stiffer fines imposed against senior citizens. The proposal would also apply consumer fraud penalties to an unlicensed person who offers to perform a service that requires a license, such as mold remediation. Handlin’s district includes some of the communities hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy. • For tips on avoiding Sandy-related scams, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/governor/news/news/552012/approved/20121105a.html • For tips on hiring a reputable home contractor, visit: http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/brief/improve.pdf ####
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