Attorney General Schneiderman Sues Extreme Snowplowing For Defrauding Western NY Consumers
A.G. Takes Action to Protect Hundreds Who Were Left Stranded After Major Snowstorms
Schneiderman: To Defraud Western New Yorkers and Leave Them Stranded in Several Feet of Snow is "Completely Unacceptable"
BUFFALO -- Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a lawsuit against the owners of Extreme Snowplowing for taking thousands of dollars from Western New Yorkers for snow removal services and failing to plow their driveways. More than 400 customers prepaid the company for snow removal services that they did not receive following several recent storms. Schneiderman made the announcement at a press conference at the Attorney General's regional office in Buffalo during his first visit to the region since taking office to meet with the regional staff.
"Anyone who endured this most recent series of storms, particularly here in Western New York, knows that snow removal is not a luxury, but a necessity," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "Showing an utter disregard for the safety of its customers, Extreme Snowplowing literally left hundreds of Western New Yorkers out in the cold. Many of these victims are elderly, some need in-home care, and some simply lack the physical capacity to shovel snow themselves. This is completely unacceptable, and we plan to leave no stone unturned to seek justice in this matter."
Last fall, Scott Romero and Richard Marrapese, owners of Extreme Snowplowing, received approximately $100,000 in advance payments from more than 400 consumers in Erie and Niagara Counties for driveway plowing services.
In the first four days of December, Buffalo and surrounding communities in Erie and Niagara Counties experienced the region's first significant snowfall of the season. As several feet of snow fell, customers who prepaid for services expected to have their driveways plowed. However, Romero and Marrapese failed to honor their contracts by either not plowing driveways at all or only plowing on one or two occasions, leaving customers stranded.
Consumers, frantic because their driveways were not being plowed, repeatedly called the company only to receive no answer or a voicemail box that was "full." Many residents had no other recourse than to incur an additional expense by finding other snow plow operators to provide the services for which they had already paid to Extreme Snowplowing.
Extreme Snowplowing also defrauded customers by misrepresenting itself in advertisements. Local newspaper advertisements for the company claimed they were fully insured, had 24-hour radio dispatch response and 15 trucks available. The Attorney General's investigation found that all of the claims were false and further revealed that they only had six trucks, used pre-paid cell phones making them difficult to contact, and were not insured for the work they actually preformed.
"Consumer fraud impacts our daily way of life. I encourage people who feel they've been victimized or scammed to let us know. I'm here in Western New York to make clear that our offices are accessible and responsive to the consumers we protect and serve," said Attorney General Schneiderman. The lawsuit was filed on Monday in New York Supreme Court in Erie County, and seeks restitution for consumers, injunctive relief, and penalties. The Attorney General's office is also seeking a temporary restraining order that would prohibit the owners of Extreme Snowplowing from destroying records or freezing their funds.
The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General James Morrissey and Senior Consumer Fraud Representative Karen Davis under the supervision of Acting Attorney General for the Buffalo Regional office Michael Russo.