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Undercover Stings Snag Painters

Thursday, May 5, 2016

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Painters were listed among nearly 30 contractors recently accused of unlicensed contracting in California.

Investigators from the state’s Contractors State License Board conducted sting operations April 26-27 in Sacramento and El Cajon in order to crack down on the phony operators, according to news releases.

The suspects were found by searching Craigslist, local Yellow Pages and leads from CSLB’s Intake Mediation Center. One suspect was targeted based on a tip from a licensed contractor who claimed the suspect hijacked his website, altering the phone number displayed and misrepresented himself as the licensee, officials said.


The CSLB regularly stages such stings to crack down on the multi-billion dollar underground economy. Image above is from a San Diego sting held in March 2015.

The suspects were invited to the sting locations to place bids on home improvement projects, like tree removal, masonry work and painting.

Under state law, unlicensed operators can only perform construction-related jobs that cost less than $500 for materials and/or labor.

However, the 27 suspects nabbed in the most recent stings submitted bids ranging from $600 to $24,000, officials said.

Dressing the Part

In addition, many of the contractors arrived wearing clothes and driving vehicles bearing company logos, which prompted a warning from the CSLB Registrar.

“We’ve seen unlicensed contractors go to great lengths to act the part of a professional, even to the point of wearing matching uniforms and drive a vehicle bearing a company logo,” said Cindi Christenson.

“Although persons without a license can certainly be affiliated with a company and wear their attire, they can only bid on construction-related projects of less than $500.”

First-conviction penalties for contracting without a license include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. Penalties are more severe with each successive violation. A second conviction carries a mandatory sentence of 90 days in jail.

The CSLB regularly stages such stings to crack down on the multi-billion dollar underground economy in California that creates unfair business competition for licensed, law-abiding contractors and endangers the public.


Tagged categories: Business operations; Certifications and standards; Contractors; Contractors State License Board; Ethics; Licensing; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; Painters

Comment from wd cameron, (5/5/2016, 7:54 PM)

Licensing laws are coming into a new era. No longer touted as a panacea to prevent fraud and shoddy work, they recently did not escape the cautious eye of the US Supreme court. The Court seems to think that professions regulated by members of the profession require close scrutiny. Yelp and Angies list have brought new data to consumers as has Next Door and other information providers. Several States have recently pedalled back some occupational licensing laws. There have been even bipartisan support in this area. The legislators are concerned about increased cost to consumers and reduced levels of entrepreneurship. Some indications are that there is less mobility in lower paid professions in states that are heavily regulated. Concerns about veterans lacking mobile licenses across state lines come up. California has a Little Hoover commission reporting to the legislature currently.

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