New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Settles Action Against Middlesex County Company That Marketed "Survival Shelters"
NEWARK – The Office of the Attorney General and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs have reached a settlement with Titan Shelters, LLC, and its owner, Alfred L. Demola, a/k/a Al Demola, under which consumers will be receiving restitution for underground survival shelters that they paid for but ultimately did not receive.
The state's seven-count complaint, filed in March 2015 in Middlesex County Superior Court, alleged that Titan Shelters and Demola violated the Consumer Fraud Act, the Home Improvement Contractors' Registration Act, the Contractor Registration Regulations, the Home Improvement Regulations, and the Regulations Governing General Advertising. The state's Complaint alleged, among other things, that: defendants sold underground survival shelters and products to consumers and then failed to deliver any of the contracted-for products; and advertised and offered for sale such products to consumers in New Jersey without being registered as a home improvement contractor with the Division. The state's complaint also alleged that defendants represented that they maintained a manufacturing facility in Cranbury, New Jersey, which was not the case. The Division's investigation revealed that no manufacturing facility for the shelters existed anywhere in New Jersey.
The defendants advertised on television in the Virginia and West Virginia markets, as well as through Titan Shelters' former web site. The state alleged that on at least two occasions, Demola personally travelled to those areas to meet with prospective customers and sign contracts for the purchase and installation of the survival shelters.
"Demola was marketing products to people who were anticipating a disaster, and with Demola, they got a disaster, according to the allegations in our complaint," Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. "With this settlement, we're securing restitution for consumers who never received the shelters they were promised."
Under the terms of the settlement, which is memorialized in a Final Consent Judgment filed with the court, the defendants agreed to make a payment of $177,373, which includes $71,800 in restitution to be paid to three consumers who filed complaints with the Division; $83,000 in civil penalties; and $22,573 in attorneys' fees and investigative costs.
"Titan Shelters and Demola operated as unregistered home improvement contractors in New Jersey and sold merchandise allegedly manufactured at a non-existent location," said Steve Lee, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. "Through this settlement, we have achieved our goals of halting Titan Shelters' business operations and have prohibited Demola from operating as a home improvement contractor in New Jersey."
The settlement also provides that:
- Titan Shelters is permanently enjoined from advertising, offering for sale, selling and/or performing home improvements in New Jersey;
- For a period of at least three years, Demola is enjoined from advertising, offering for sale, selling and/or performing home improvements in New Jersey;
- For a period of at least three years, Demola is enjoined from managing, operating and/or owning any businesses in New Jersey that require licensing or registration by the Division, including, home improvement contractor, master plumber, electrician, fire and/or burglar alarm installer, and/or locksmith; and
- The limited liability charter of Titan Shelters is permanently vacated and/or annulled and Titan Shelters will be dissolved.
Investigator Ray Yee in the Division of Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection conducted the investigation of this matter.
Deputy Attorney General Mark E. Critchley in the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law represented the state in this action.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse,
can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting
its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.
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