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NEWARK – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs have obtained a $1.6 million default judgment against a former owner of Ocean County-based Advanta Medicaid LLC d/b/a Advanta Medicaid Specialists (“Advanta”) in a civil lawsuit alleging the proprietors accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from consumers after promising to assist them in establishing eligibility for Medicaid coverage and then failing to provide the promised services.
In entering the Default Judgment, Essex County Superior Court Judge James R. Paganelli found that Lakewood resident Nissim “Sam” Aryeh is personally liable for 131 violations of the State’s consumer protection laws and regulations. The $1,630,194 judgment includes $226,450 in consumer restitution, $1,310,000 in statutory civil penalties, and $93,744 in attorneys’ fees and investigative costs. It also permanently bars Aryeh from advertising, offering for sale, and/or selling any Medicaid-related goods and/or services in New Jersey, as well as owning or managing any business within the State, among other restrictions.
“The defendant in this case participated in a scheme that callously preyed on elderly individuals seeking help in obtaining Medicaid coverage for their long-term care,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We will continue to pursue these cases to hold businesses and owners accountable for their actions and send a strong message of deterrence to others.”
The State resolved its claims against Aryeh’s co-defendants, Advanta co-owner Chaim E. Feller and the company itself, in September 2020. The Default Judgment against Advanta requires the company to pay $1.66 million, cancels its business certificate, and permanently bars the company from doing business in New Jersey. A Final Consent Judgment entered against Feller ordered Feller to pay $55,000 in restitution to consumers, refrain from engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any business in New Jersey, and provide the Division with written notice of any future ownership interest in a registered business that offers for sale, sells, and/or provides Medicaid services to New Jersey consumers, among other relief.
“The latest judgment in this case demonstrates our determination to hold everyone who orchestrated this wrongdoing accountable,” said Kaitlin A. Caruso, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “We will not tolerate this kind of predatory behavior.”
The Division opened its investigation after dozens of individuals reported that Advanta never rendered agreed-upon services or provided the refunds it guaranteed to customers who were not approved for Medicaid applications, even after accepting upfront payments ranging from $3,000 to $9,000 per customer. Calls and emails to the company went unanswered and customers were left in the dark about the status of their Medicaid applications.
The State’s complaint, filed on December 10, 2019, alleged that defendants violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and advertising regulations by, among other things, failing to submit Medicaid applications for customers, falsely representing to customers that their applications had been submitted, refusing to honor the money-back guarantee advertised on the company’s website, and using company monies to bankroll their personal spending.
Deputy Attorney General Robert N. Holup of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group represented the State in the matter. Investigator Michelle R. Davis of the Office of Consumer Protection within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail.
For questions about NJ FamilyCare, New Jersey’s publicly funded health insurance program that includes CHIP, Medicaid, and Medicaid expansion populations, call 1-800-701-0710, visit NJ FamilyCare or locate your County Board of Social Services . You can also get information by visiting NJHelps, where you can self-screen for eligibility for NJ FamilyCare, Medicaid, food and cash assistance.
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The mission of the Division of Consumer Affairs, within the Department of Law and Public Safety, is to protect the public from fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and professional misconduct in the sale of goods and services in New Jersey through education, advocacy, regulation and enforcement. The Division pursues its mission through its 51 professional and occupational boards that oversee 720,000 licensees in the state, its Regulated Business section that oversees 60,000 NJ registered businesses, as well as through its Office of Consumer Protection, Bureau of Securities, Charities Registration section, Office of Weights and Measures, and Legalized Games of Chance section.