Originally in Blue Ridge Now

January 16, 2019

Attorney General Josh Stein Wednesday filed a lawsuit against National Emergency Restoration Services LLC and its Director of Operations Ricardo (“Rick”) Aleman for allegedly price gouging a Guilford County homeowner for tree removal during the state of emergency declared for Hurricane Michael.

In his lawsuit, the attorney general requests that the court prohibit Aleman and his company from conducting any similar business in North Carolina and also assess civil penalties as punishment.

“North Carolina was devastated by hurricanes in 2018,” Stein said in a news release. “It is unconscionable that some would take advantage of a desperate situation to scam money. We are asking the court to put a stop to this action – and I hope it will serve as a message to any other would-be price gougers out there. My office will not allow price gouging to go unchecked.”

The complaint alleges that National Emergency Restoration Services came to the victim’s home in Browns Summit and one of its representatives falsely told him that the company was sent by his insurance company to remove three trees.

As a result, the homeowner did not ask what the price would be.

Later, National Emergency Restoration Services sent the customer an invoice for $37,200 to remove the trees and place a tarp on part of the home – though another tree service quoted in writing just $800 for the tree work.

This is the sixth price gouging lawsuit Attorney General Stein has filed related to Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

To date, the N.C. Department of Justice has received more than 900 complaints about price gouging.

Stein’s office is investigating those now and encourages anyone who may have been the victim of gouging to report it at 1-877-5-NOSCAM or ncdoj.gov/complaint.