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Undercover Sting Nets 75 Contractors

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

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California-based painters were among 75 contractors nabbed in the state's latest round of undercover sting operations, aimed at cracking down on suspected unlicensed operators.

The roundup, known as the “California Blitz,” was executed Oct. 9-10, and included 20 contractors who submitted bids for painting work, according to authorities.

Photos: California Contractors State License Board

“Unlicensed, illegal activity that puts homeowners at risk and legitimate contractors at a competitive disadvantage will not be tolerated," according to Contractors State License Board Registrar Steve Sands. The board nabbed 75 in its Fall Blitz.

Such stings are conducted by the state’s Contractors State License Board. The Board aggressively monitors contractor licensing, insurance and advertising in the state.

Word of Warning

CSLB said that among those arrested were two registered sex offenders; two individuals with several prior felonies including robbery, rape, burglary and drug possession; three who had an active arrest warrant; and several caught using contractor license numbers that did not belong to them.

Three of the suspects were taken to jail, CSLB reported.

“Homeowners should be nervous when they hear the background of some of the people we caught in these stings,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands.

“Unlicensed, illegal activity that puts homeowners at risk and legitimate contractors at a competitive disadvantage will not be tolerated.”    

Six Stings, 75 Contractors

Six undercover stings were conducted by investigators from CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT), in cooperation with state and local law enforcement agencies.


In addition to painting, the suspected unlicensed contractors submitted bids for concrete and landscaping work at the sting home.

SWIFT investigators posed as homeowners seeking bids for home improvement projects such as painting, landscaping, electrical, plumbing, drywall, flooring, fencing, concrete and tree removal work.

The areas subject to the recent sweeps were: Clovis (Fresno County); Ontario (San Bernardino County); Roseville (Placer County); Seaside (Monterey County); South Lake Tahoe (El Dorado County); and Banning (Riverside County).

A majority of those nabbed were identified through allegedly illegal ads posted on, according to the CSLB.

CSLB noted that totals from the blitz may rise as some suspects are expected to provide bids to undercover investigators via email or fax in the near future.

Possible Charges

The CSLB provided the following breakdown of the charges and penalties many of the contractors may face.

Of the 75 individuals arrested, 72 may face misdemeanor charges for contracting without a license in violation of California’s Business and Professions Code section 7028.

The penalty for a conviction under that section is up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Also, 56 suspects may be charged with illegal advertising, a violation of Business and Professions Code section 7027.1. That law requires contractors to place their license number in all print, broadcast and online advertisements.

Those without a license are permitted to advertise for jobs valued at less than $500, but the ad language must state that they are not a licensed contractor. The penalty is a fine of $700 to $1,000.

In addition, 10 others may be charged with requesting an excessive down payment in contravention of Business and Professions Code section 7159.5. In California, a home improvement project down payment cannot exceed 10 percent of the contract total or $1,000, whichever is less. Failure to abide by this law, results in a misdemeanor charge, carrying a maximum penalty of six months in jail and/or up to a $5,000 fine.

Further, 13 of the alleged unlicensed contractors also were issued "Stop Orders" in accordance with Business and Professions Code section 7127.

Under the law, CSLB investigators can stop job site activity when any person with or without a contractor license does not have workers’ compensation insurance coverage for employees. Failure to comply with a Stop Order can result in misdemeanor charges and penalties, including 60 days in jail and/or up to $10,000 in fines, according to the CSLB.


Tagged categories: Business operations; Contractors State License Board; Criminal acts; Licensing; Maintenance + Renovation; Painters; Residential contractors

Comment from Catherine Brooks, (10/16/2013, 11:07 PM)

Thanks, D&D for spreading the word that some states are working hard to clean up their contractor industry. While EPA doesn't have the funding to do RRP enforcement, programs like the CLSB will help to level the playing field for contractors who do comply with laws.

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