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State attorney general sues home contractor

A Buffalo contractor failed to deliver promised repair work to customers and overcharged others for work they didn’t need, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday by the state Attorney General’s office.

It alleges that, in many cases, Phillip Fox, 44, collected money and didn’t provide any repairs at all, and work that he did perform was poorly done. Fox also specifically targeted elderly people, selling them work that wasn’t needed or charging them exorbitant prices, the suit says.

One instance in the suit refers to two elderly sisters aged 85 and 88, one of them legally blind. After ingratiating himself by offering snow-plowing services, Fox took more than $80,000 from the sisters in work that either wasn’t necessary, wasn’t done or was overpriced, the suit says, charging the women $7,390 to powerwash, stain and seal their fence, and $3,410 to install a basement door, for example.

Another elderly customer paid Fox $8,500 to replace his driveway. According to the suit, Fox ripped out the driveway but wouldn’t return until the customer paid another $2,100 for him to deliver crushed stone. Then Fox said he couldn’t pour the concrete until he received another $3,000. The customer paid the additional $3,000 but never received the finished concrete, the suit said. He had to pay another contractor $6,000 to fix Fox’s shoddy work and complete the job himself.

In total, Fox scammed dozens of customers, the suit alleges.

State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman sought and won a restraining order against Fox that immediately froze Fox’s bank accounts and prohibits him from accepting any advance payments from customers. The lawsuit seeks to bar Fox from the home improvement industry unless he posts a $250,000 bond. It also seeks refunds for customers and civil penalties for consumer protection law violations.

The attorney general said he would continue hold fraudulent home contractors accountable.

“To defraud hardworking New Yorkers who are seeking a home improvement contractor is illegal and wrong, but to deliberately target the elderly when scamming consumers is reprehensible,” he said.

Fox did not return a call seeking comment.

email: schristmann@buffnews.com

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