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Phony Contractors Nabbed in 9 States

Thursday, July 9, 2015

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PHOENIX--More than 430 unlicensed painters and other contractors have been rounded up in a multistate sting.

Contractor licensing boards in nine states recently joined forces for the operation, orchestrated by the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies.

contractors submitting bids
California State Licensing Board

Contractor licensing boards in nine states teamed together for a sting operation that nabbed some 430 suspected unlicensed individuals.

Officials in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington executed the joint sting the weeks of June 15 and June 26.

To attract the scores of unlicensed contractors to bait houses, the state boards responded to ads on websites, such as Craigslist and Angie’s List, for home improvement projects, including painting, landscaping and plumbing.

National Effort

"The goal of this operation was to elevate consumer protection and deter illegal construction practices," said Angie Whitaker, executive director of the NASCLA.

The operations involved collaboration between various state public information departments, investigative departments, executive directors/officers and the media.

The association says such stings help to level the playing field for legitimate operators in the construction industry.

The participating states reported these results to NASCLA.

By the Numbers

Arizona: The Registrar of Contractors’ statewide sting netted 30 suspected unlicensed individuals.

Nine were arrested, including two on the Registrar’s “Top Most Wanted List.” Five others were criminally or civilly cited, and 16 were issued warnings.

Arizona sting
Arizona Registrar of Contractors

The Arizona Registrar of Contractors arrested nine individuals.

Of those arrested, one provided a $2,000 estimate to paint the interior of a home. He had three misdemeanor warrants, one of which was issued for Contracting without a License.

California: The Contractors State License Board nabbed 105 suspected illegal contractors during 14 undercover sting operations held during the event.

“Unlicensed contracting is a real problem that knows no state lines,” CSLB Registrar Cindi Christenson said in a statement.

“Several of the suspects we targeted turned out to be repeat offenders and individuals with a criminal history that included drug violations. One admitted to law enforcement officers that he had taken drugs before arriving.”

Florida: The Department of Business and Professional Regulation cited eight contractors for contracting without a license during its sting operation in Jacksonville.

“Unlicensed contractors lack the necessary training, qualifications and insurance to complete a job in compliance with building codes and often leave homeowners responsible for any additional costs to repair substandard work,” said DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson.

Nevada: The State Contractors Board conducted three undercover sting operations resulting in 29 citations to unlicensed contractors for alleged unlawful advertising and contracting activities.

One licensed contractor was also cited to be further investigated by the Board.

Rhode Island: The Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board issued 13 citations: 12 for contracting without a license and one for hiring a non-registered subcontractor during its roundup.

The violations resulted in fines up to $5,000.  

sting operation
California State Licensing Board

Investigators set up bait houses and responded to online ads to lure the contractors.

South Carolina: The Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation’s Office of Investigations and Enforcement said its roundup resulted in 73 cases opened for investigation.

Texas: The Department of Licensing and Regulation opened 24 cases against individuals for offering to perform contracting activity requiring a license without having one.

Utah: The Department of Commerce, Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing said it issued a total of 31 administrative citations and proposed more than $20,000 in fines for unauthorized or unlicensed practices.

Washington: The Department of Labor & Industries Construction Compliance Inspectors conducted undercover sting operations on 257 job sites and checked 547 contractors for compliance.

Six were cited for unregistered contracting, 13 were issued infractions for certification violations and one was issued a citation for an assembled structures violation. Sixty-eight referrals were made, including over 20 for alleged worker compensation violations.

The inspectors also issued 22 violations for advertising while unregistered.

Chief of Compliance Dean Simpson called the multistate crackdown “an invaluable effort to take a stand against the underground economy.”


Tagged categories: Business matters; Contractors; Contractors State License Board; Criminal acts; Ethics; Good Technical Practice; Licensing; North America; Residential contractors

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (7/9/2015, 8:51 AM)

We are a very license-heavy society. Until this summer, in Texas you were required to have a license and a fully outfitted barber school (min 2,000 square feet, 10 barber chairs, washing stations, et cetera) in order to teach hair braiding. No cutting, no tools, no chemicals. Just braiding. Note that you still need a license as an individual to braid hair for pay, but the requirements were reduced (after a lawsuit) a few years ago to 35 hours of instruction instead of 1,500 hours.

Comment from bob belhumeur, (7/10/2015, 9:35 PM)

Un-licensed contractors are part of the underground economy costing tax payers billions of dollars every year. These cheaters, are breaking the law, they cheat their workers by not paying them a proper wedge. They cheat the government, schools and communities by not paying State and Federal Taxes. They cheat everyone by not pay for workers compensation insurance. And if you thing these criminals won’t cheat you your dreaming.

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