New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Files Action Against Middlesex County Company That Offered Underground "Survival Shelters" For Sale
NEWARK – The Office of the Attorney General and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs have filed suit against Titan Shelters, LLC and its owner, Alfred L. Demola, a/k/a “Al Demola,” for allegedly, among other things, selling underground survival shelters and survival products to consumers and then failing to deliver any of the contracted-for products, as well as advertising and offering for sale such products to consumers in New Jersey without being registered as a home improvement contractor.
The state’s seven-count complaint, filed in Superior Court in Middlesex County, alleges that the defendants 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 seeks consumer restitution, reimbursement of attorneys’ fees and costs, and civil penalties that range up to $10,000 for each violation of the statutes and/or regulations committed by defendants.
“Demola promised safety and security, but delivered angst and disappointment to consumers from their purchase of survival shelters manufactured at the defendants’ non-existent manufacturing facility,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “As a result, consumers paid Demola thousands of dollars upfront for survival shelters and products, but received nothing in return.”
The defendants advertised on television in the Virginia and West Virginia markets, as well as through Titan Shelters’ former web site. The state alleges that on at least two occasions, Demola personally travelled to those areas to meet with prospective customers and to sign contracts for the purchase and installation of the survival shelters.
The state’s complaint also alleges that defendants:
- Advertised and offered for sale home improvements in New Jersey without being registered as a home improvement contractor with the Division of Consumer Affairs;
- Represented that they maintained a manufacturing facility in Cranbury, New Jersey, which was not the case;
- Failed to include in their contracts required information, such as a description of work to be done and the principal products and materials to be used or installed;
- Failed to deliver and/or install the contracted-for survival shelters and products;
- Obtained a second deposit of $19,800 from a consumer for the installation of the floor of a survival shelter, when no such work had been done;
- Failed to provide refunds to consumers who did not receive their contracted-for survival shelters and products; and
- Failed to respond to consumers’ telephone calls, inquiries or complaints.
The Division of Consumer Affairs is also seeking to cancel Titan Shelters’ certificate of formation and to enjoin Demola from owning or operating any other entity that advertises, offers for sale, sells and/or performs home improvements in New Jersey.
“We’re requesting that the court order the return of funds to the affected consumers. We want to hold Demola accountable for his alleged violations and make things right for consumers,” said Steve Lee, Acting Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs. “Our goal is to protect future consumers by permanently barring Demola from operating in New Jersey as a home improvement contractor.”
The state’s complaint also alleges that Demola directed certain customers to obtain loans from a Providence, Rhode Island bank and then wire deposits directly to him. At least two consumers wired Demola a total of $24,500 and are now making payments on their loans without having received their contracted-for shelters or refunds.
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 is representing 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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