Licensing Officials Cite Dozens in Sting
Dozens of California contractors, including painters, concrete workers and others, suspected of contracting without a license were recently cited on various charges, licensing authorities have announced.
The suspects were caught during a two-day sting operation conducted Oct. 19-20, in Folsom, CA. Investigators from the Contractors State License Board’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) posed as homeowners, inviting suspected unlicensed contractors to give bids for a number of home improvement projects, including painting and stucco services.
The Folsom Police Department and Folsom Code Enforcement aided in the sting operation.
In California, anyone who offers home improvement services totaling $500 or more in labor and/or materials must have a state-issued contractor’s license. During the operation, authorities said bids ranged from $900 for power washing to $15,100 for replacing exterior stucco.
The suspects included one who had recently been released from prison after serving a seven-year sentence for attempted murder; an individual who was in the possession of an illegal, loaded firearm; and five others who were nabbed in previous CSLB sting operations, according to the authorities.
Twenty-five of the suspects were issued with a notice to appear in court to face misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license.
Further, 21 people were also cited for illegal advertising. Unlicensed operators must state in any advertising that they do not have a state license, and can only advertise for types of jobs that total less than $500, under California law.
Two of the suspects may face felony charges after they were caught using a contractor license number that did not belong to them, without permission. That charge carries a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to one year in state prison or county jail.
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Authorities said one of the suspects caught in the sting had recently been released from prison after serving a seven-year sentence for attempted murder.
Two other suspects were cited for not properly registering with the CSLB as home improvement salespersons.
While the sting operation targeted unlicensed contractors, eight licensed contractors will also face administrative citations for violations of contractor law, including not having their license numbers on their ads and working in a classification not covered by their license.
Check the License
“It is easy for people to self-promote and advertise their businesses, but an online or print advertisement does not ensure they’re legitimate,” said CSLB Registrar Cindi Christenson. “It is very important for consumers to do their homework and verify every contractor’s license on CSLB’s website or by calling our toll-free automated phone line.”
The CSLB operates under the California Department of Consumer Affairs and regulates almost 290,000 contractors in the state. It is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the country. In 2015-16 fiscal year, the CSLB helped consumers recover about $41 million in restitution.