Nassau County police, along with the county's consumer affairs office, arrested nearly three dozen "unscrupulous contractors" in a sting during a three-day span this week, charging each of them with operating a home improvement business without a permit, a misdemeanor, officials said Thursday.
Fourth Precinct officers and consumer affairs officials used a "sting house" where they posed as homeowners who wanted to have their homes remodeled or restored, said Katie Grilli-Robles, a spokeswoman for County Executive Edward Mangano.
The 33 men arrested told the prospective customers they had home improvement licenses in Nassau County when that was not the case, police said. The so-called sting house was in Valley Stream, police said.
"Based on the number of unlicensed individuals and companies that responded to this operation, many of them were looking to prey on desperate homeowners looking to get their lives put back together since Sandy," Grilli-Robles said in a statement.
She said the sting operation "came about after consumers filed complaints against vendors," adding that many of those vendors had "failed to answer complaints and violations issued" by the consumer affairs office.
Some of the complaints were received after superstorm Sandy, when more homeowners were being targeted by people posing as licensed contractors, officials said.
After Sandy, Mangano had issued a warning to homeowners about unlicensed contractors, and subsequently more residents called in "with complaints of companies taking advantage of them or taking their money and disappearing," Grilli-Robles said.
The 33 will have their cases heard at First District Court in Hempstead, police said.