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Unlicensed plumber targeted in suit filed by WV Attorney General

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) — An unlicensed plumbing contractor has been accused of defrauding at least seven people of more than $5,700 in unfinished plumbing projects, according to the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office.

The lawsuit targets Jerry Smales who operates Mountaineer Plumbing and Beckley Plumbing from a UPS store in Beckley, according to the civil complaint filed in Raleigh County Circuit Court.

Attorney General Morrisey accuses Smales of pretending to be a plumbing contractor even though he lacked any licensing.

The lawsuit seeks to block him from any future contracting work in West Virginia, in addition to the payment of restitution and penalties. The alleged violations occurred through his operation of Mountaineer Plumbing and Beckley Plumbing.

“Anyone engaging in home improvement contracting of any type must complete their work,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “When someone believes he can disregard his obligations to his customers, he should expect vigorous litigation from our office.”

The scheme victimized consumers dating back to December 2018. Most of the projects involved plumbing work, and all were in Raleigh County.

AG Morrisey says Smales collected individual payments totaling $5,766.78, but never completed the work on any of the seven projects. He also never provided refunds, despite being asked to do so by consumers.

The lawsuit charges Smales with unfair or deceptive practices, failure to complete work as promised and failure to notify consumers of the three-day right to cancel.

The lawsuit also seeks a $5,000 penalty for each violation of the state’s consumer protection law, restitution for each consumer who has not yet obtained a judgment against the defendant and reimbursement for the state’s investigation and litigation expense.

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