Four gay men claim in a lawsuit that “ex-gay” therapy violates New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed the first-of-its-kind lawsuit on behalf of the men who say Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) fraudulently claimed to provide services that “convert” people from gay to straight.

JONAH founder Arthur Goldberg, a former attorney who was disbarred, and counselor Alan Downing are accused of violating New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act.

“JONAH profits off of shameful and dangerous attempts to fix something that isn't broken,” Christine P. Sun, deputy legal director for the SPLC, said in a statement. “Despite the consensus of mainstream professional organizations that conversion therapy doesn't work, this racket continues to scam vulnerable gay men and lesbians out of thousands of dollars and inflicts significant harm on them.”

Chaim Levin, one of the plaintiffs, disclosed at age 16 his sexual orientation to his parents, who sent him to JONAH. He attended weekly sessions conducted by Downing for 18 months.

“What I can tell you is that conversion therapy does not work,” Levin said at a news conference on Tuesday. “My family and I have wasted thousands of dollars and many hours on this scam.”

According to the lawsuit, Downing and other counselors encouraged clients to blame their parents for their sexuality, instructing clients to beat effigies of their mothers. Other sessions involved clients undressing in front of a mirror. In one instance, Downing is undressed as he instructs young men to stand naked in a circle.

California Governor Jerry Brown in September signed a bill outlawing such therapies to minors.

(Related: Minnesota “ex-gay” pastor Ryan Muehlhauser accused of sexually molesting 2 men.)