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Authorities Conduct N.J. Repair Sting After Tropical Storm Irene

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Rains and the cresting of nearby waters caused flooding in front of the Hi-Tech auto shop at Farmingdale Rd., and Pompton Plains circle on August 29, 2011 in Wayne, New Jersey. (credit:  Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Rains and the cresting of nearby waters caused flooding in front of the Hi-Tech auto shop at Farmingdale Rd., and Pompton Plains circle on August 29, 2011 in Wayne, New Jersey. (credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Back in August, Tropical Storm Irene left thousands of homes across the Garden State flooded and mold-infested. But in addition to the damage, homeowners had to contend with unregistered contractors.

“As the floodwaters receded, a new threat surfaced that targeted owners of damaged homes,” said Tom Calcagno, director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

New Jersey authorities rounded up a dozen contractors in an undercover sting for being unregistered. Eight were charged criminally for having no formal paperwork at all, and no explanation.

State investigators said the so-called contractors were fly-by-night. They answered the investigators’ ad on Craigslist, which lured them to a decoy house.

“Without rulers, without tape measures,” Calcagno said. “Some people completely overlooked some of the most obvious and troubling damage in the home.”

Resident Bob Currie said he spent $100,000 over the years improving his home, but passed on hiring his own contractor neighbor, whose business address is a house just down the block in Arlington Heights, but who also was one of those rounded up.

“If something’s being done, I want it done, and I want it done as quick as I could possibly get it done,” Currie said.

Not all customers were disappointed, however. One, who recently had her entire roof replaced, told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis she had no issues.

“He gave us a price, and we paid it,” homeowner Janet Siano said.

State officials made no determination on the actual work of these contractors, and advised homeowners to be careful.

“Ensure that the contractor has a legitimate business address, that it’s not a fly-by-night operation,” said Calcagno.

Also, make sure the contractor’s work truck at least has a name and verifiable business registration number, and is not just a plain white truck.

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