North Carolina

Company accused of scamming residents after Hurricane Florence just got banned from NC

NC National Guard helps clean up after Hurricane Florence

Members of the NC National Guard out of Raeford helping residents of Whiteville remove fallen trees after Hurricane Florence on Sept. 20, 2018.
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Members of the NC National Guard out of Raeford helping residents of Whiteville remove fallen trees after Hurricane Florence on Sept. 20, 2018.

A tree removal company agreed to pay $20,000 in penalties and restitution, and to never work in North Carolina again, after residents complained about price gouging during Hurricane Florence cleanup last year, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

After the hurricane hit in October 2018, Scotts Tree Service billed homeowners in Castle Hayne, North Carolina, $14,500 to remove two trees “without first discussing or getting agreement on the price,” according to Attorney General Josh Stein. The company sent the bill to collections even though the homeowners never agreed to pay.

“During its investigation of Scotts Tree Service, Attorney General Stein discovered evidence that numerous other North Carolinians may have also been price gouged by the company,” according to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office.

A judge signed off on the agreement Monday, which does not include an admission of guilt from the company. The agreement cancels $153,100 in invoices the company billed North Carolina consumers for Hurricane Florence cleanup.

“As North Carolinians in eastern North Carolina work to recover from damage caused by Hurricane Dorian, I urge them to be vigilant of price gougers,” Stein said in the press release. “If you think you have been the victim of a price gouging scam, please report it to my office. As this post-Florence case demonstrates, we will not abide scammers who try to take advantage of this disaster.”

Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency before Hurricane Dorian hit North Carolina, putting the price gouging law into effect, according to the state Department of Justice. Residents can find more information about filing a price gouging complaint on the NC DOJ website.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.
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