ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHAM) - A home improvement contractor business in Rochester is being sued by the New York State Attorney General's Office for using fake reviews and not doing work they were paid to do.
AS Contracting, which is run by Alvis Sprague and Sarah Crawford, is being sued for deceptive online advertising and failure to perform services as required.
A preliminary injunction issued by Monroe County Supreme Court bans Crawford and Sprague from running any home improvement business in New York and freezes their assets while the lawsuit is pending, effective immediately.
The two are accused of using fake reviews on YellowPages.com and Yelp to promote AS Contracting. They allegedly asked friends to give them five-star reviews to bring in more customers. Some customers hired AS Contracting because of these reviews.
“Consumers deserve to know that they can trust online reviews – not be deceived by the company itself,” said Attorney General Barbara Underwood. “Companies that seek to deceive New Yorkers will be held accountable by my office.”
Some of those customers were then defrauded by Sprague and Crawford. The two allegedly took full or partial payments and promised to do work on homes, but did the work "in a shoddy and unprofessional manner", according to the AG's Office. In some cases, the contractors did not do any work at all.
Customers who were promised refunds did not receive them, the lawsuit alleges. Sprague allegedly took deposits for home improvement work and spent the money at casinos, including more than $80,000 in 2017 at venues in Niagara Falls, Verona, Waterloo, as well as Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
The Attorney General is seeking a permanent injunction against Crawford and Sprague that will prevent them from ever operating a home improvement business in New York. Restitution in the amount of $52,000 and $50,000 in costs and penalties is also being sought.
Anyone who believes they were defrauded by AS Contracting or another contractor should call the Attorney General’s consumer hotline at (800) 771-7755.