A group of Brooklyn homeowners say they've fallen victim to a Park Slope Ponzi-schemer who convinced them to pay up-front for kitchen and bathroom repairs—then delivered sub-par work, if he did any work at all. At least eight victims are pursuing legal proceedings against Brooklyn Kitchens and Baths owner Brian Ackerman, who allegedly owes the customers about $60,000 for unfinished or unsatisfactory work.
According to the Brooklyn Paper, one customer paid Ackerman $30,000 for renovations in June of 2008 that were so disastrous that her Prospect-Lefferts Garden home "is still in a state of disrepair." An angry customer even launched the website WhyBrooklynKitchens.com, which warns visitors: "[I]f you value your sanity, DO NOT give Brooklyn Kitchens a penny of your money. You will regret it." Lawyer Audrey Roth says she intends to take up the issue with the Better Business Bureau and the Department of Consumer Affairs. "We'll show this is his regular way of doing business," she said. "There ought to be consequences for taking people's money and not giving them what they've paid for."
Ackerman acknowledges he hasn't finished work at some of his clients' homes, but says he isn't a scammer—he's just down on his luck. "I lost my shirt, there is no hiding it," he said. "There was no motive to hurt anyone. I never lied to anyone." Last week, Ackerman lost $3,000 to a customer in small claims court. He has three pending cases in Brooklyn and Queens civil courts, and resolved two other cases against his business in 2007. "It makes me look like a thief! … I'm literally broke! After all the favors I did for those people! I satisfied hundreds and hundreds of customers. It all falls apart now because I'm in financial trouble. I'm going to need to get someone to help me build my rep again."