Archive for the ‘Illegal Contracting’ Category

Contractor sting nets 15 in Hayward

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Contractor sting nets 15 in Hayward

Suspected violators found through online and print ads

Posted: 04/17/2010 12:00:00 AM PDT

Updated: 04/19/2010 06:54:49 AM PDT

HAYWARD — An undercover operation targeting illegal contractors netted 15 people who allegedly offered to do painting and concrete work without a license.

The sting operation was a joint effort between the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and the Contractors State License Board. Investigators posed as homeowners looking for someone to do concrete and painting work at a home near the Cal State East Bay campus.

Suspected violators were found through online and print ads, or were identified by the district attorney.

Most of them came from Alameda County. They each were issued notices to appear in court for arraignment next month.

“This operation should serve as a warning for consumers who might be taken in by promises of cheaper work performed by someone who isn’t licensed,” said Steve Sands of the contractor’s board, in a statement.

Sands added that work done by a licensed contractor also removes liability for the homeowner and “is not cheating the state’s taxpayers and legitimate licensees.”

By law, improvement projects that will cost more than $500 must be performed by a licensed contractor.

The sting followed a statewide operation last month that netted more than 150 suspected violators.

For more information, visit the license board Web site at www.cslb.ca.gov.

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Unlicensed Contractors Caught in Sting Due in Court

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

CSLB Press Release – 03/03/10

Unlicensed Contractors Caught in Sting Due in Court

Operators caught making illegal bids to undercover investigators
SACRAMENTO —The lure of easy money led seven unlicensed operators to submit illegal bids to members of the Contractors State License Board’s (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) during an undercover sting operation in Live Oak (Sutter County) on February 17, 2010.

During the one-day operation, the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office supported SWIFT investigators, who posed as homeowners to solicit bids on projects that included landscaping, roofing, painting, and masonry services. Suspects who offered bids greater than $500 were given a Notice to Appear (NTA) in court for contracting without a license. California Business & Professions Code (B&P) requires a state contractor license for home improvement jobs valued at $500 or more for labor and materials.

Homeowners may not realize the risks of hiring unlicensed contractors. Phony contractors rarely have workers’ compensation or contractor license bonds that protect consumers. A worker who is hurt on the job could seek medical reimbursement or other damages from the homeowner. Homeowners also have little recourse for poor quality workmanship or financial damages when they use a person who is operating outside of the law.

“Some unlicensed operators deliberately target trusting and vulnerable people,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “They can take your money and be gone before you realize what has happened.”

CSLB provides many helpful consumer publications that can be downloaded or ordered from the Web site: www.CheckTheLicenseFirst.com or www.cslb.ca.gov, or by calling, toll-free: 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).

CSLB urges consumers to remember the following tips when hiring a contractor:

  • Be especially hesitant when approached by someone offering home improvement services door-to-door.
  • Verify the contractor’s license by checking online at www.cslb.ca.gov, or via CSLB’s automated phone system at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752), and ask to see a photo identification to make sure you’re dealing with the correct person.
  • Don’t pay more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less. There is an exception to this for about two dozen contractors who have special bonds for consumer protection that are noted on the CSLB Web site.
  • Don’t pay in cash, and don’t let the payments get ahead of the work.
  • Check references, and get at least 3 bids and a written contract before your project begins.
  • Contact CSLB if you have a complaint against a contractor.

The following individuals received NTAs and are scheduled to appear in Sutter County Court at 446 Second Street, Yuba City, on March 29, 2009:

SUSPECT’S NAME WORK CLASS VIOLATIONS
Ruben Gonzalez Lopez
Yuba City
Landscaping Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Lorenzo Magdaleno Baldomero
Placerville
Masonry Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Florencio Diaz Garcia
Sacramento
Masonry Contracting without a license
Modrigal Zapeda Cuauthemoc
Sacramento
Roofing Contracting without a license
Eugenio Valadez
Yuba City
Landscaping Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Arturo Perez Esparzo
Olivehurst
Painting Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Gustavo Olivares Orozco
Olivehurst
Masonry Contracting without a license, illegal advertising

The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. More information about hiring contractors is available on the CSLB Web site or by calling 800-321-CSLB (2752). CSLB licenses and regulates California’s 310,000 contractors, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2008-09, CSLB helped recover nearly $36 million in ordered restitution for consumers.

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161 Nabbed In State Wide Undercover Operation

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

CSLB Press Release – 03/25/10

Contractors State License Board Stings 161 in Largest-Ever Statewide Undercover Operation

Criminal backgrounds underscore huge risk consumers take when hiring phony contractors
SACRAMENTO —Investigators have wrapped up the largest undercover sting operation in the Contractors State License Board’s (CSLB) 81-year history. On Tuesday and Wednesday, March 23 and 24, 2010, nearly three dozen CSLB investigators, including members of CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT), partnered with 15 law enforcement agencies to conduct simultaneous sting operations in 11 cities around California.

The “California Blitz” targeted unlicensed contractors, with a particular emphasis on repeat offenders and those who don’t carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Over the two-day period, 161 people were arrested. Most were issued a Notice to Appear (NTA) in court and will face misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license and, in many cases, illegal advertising.

Four suspects were taken to jail on felony charges; three of them had arrest warrants, including one suspect who had five different warrants for charges including obstruction of justice, possession of a controlled substance, and two DUIs. Another had a warrant for embezzlement and diversion of construction funds. One of the misdemeanor suspects had previously been convicted of burglary, child abuse and domestic violence. Another had his CSLB license revoked in 2005 and is a registered sex offender. A third was previously convicted of armed robbery and possession of a dangerous weapon.

A total of eight repeat offenders were caught, including one suspect who was convicted by a jury last month in Orange County for contracting without a license. There were more than three dozen no-shows at the various sting locations and, in other instances, suspects fled when they thought they were about to be stung. This indicates that the true number of repeat offenders might have higher, had they been caught.

The sting operations were conducted in Sonoma, Santa Clara, Sacramento, El Dorado, Madera, Kern, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Joining CSLB were local law enforcement agencies and district attorney offices, as well as the California Department of Insurance and the Department of Toxic Substances.

At all the undercover locations, CSLB investigators posed as homeowners and invited suspected unlicensed operators to bid on various construction jobs ranging from landscaping, tree trimming, and roofing to masonry, concrete, tile and painting. By law, all contractors who perform work that totals $500 or more for labor and materials must be licensed by CSLB. Since 2005, those applying for a new license or to change their license have been required to submit fingerprints for a criminal background check.

“Homeowners need to be aware of the risk they take when they hire someone who is not licensed to do work in their home,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “What seems like a good deal almost always ends up costing a lot more. Many of these phony contractors are people you really don’t want inside your house or around your children.”

Because unlicensed operators don’t carry workers’ compensation insurance, they often submit lower bids. But, if one of their workers is injured on the job, the homeowner could be liable. Plus, if there is a disagreement or something goes wrong with the project, the homeowner may have few options for recovering their money from an unlicensed contractor.

The goal of the “California Blitz” is to draw attention to the dangers to consumers who hire these phony contractors, to educate unlicensed workers about California laws, and to encourage those who qualify to get their contractor license. The misdemeanor charges carry a maximum of six months in jail and/or a fine up to $5,000 for the first offense. A second violation carries a mandatory 90-day jail sentence as well as a possible fine up to $5,000.

“Unlicensed activity is a threat to all Californians,” said Department of Consumer Affairs Director Brian Stiger. “It threatens the safety of consumers, it robs our communities of resources, and it puts reputable, licensed professionals at a disadvantage. The efforts of the Contractors State License Board are crucial in helping to protect consumers from physical and financial peril and ensuring that our economy is not imperiled by unlicensed individuals.”

“When consumers hire unlicensed contractors, the contractors’ work is unverified and is often times unsafe and unfinished. This leaves an even greater burden on their victims, who are already vulnerable and in need of help,” stated Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “These types of cases protect consumers and put unlicensed contractors on notice that they will be prosecuted.”

The following are highlights from the enforcement operations:

Location Agencies Participating Highlights
Santa Rosa
Sonoma County
Contractors State License Board
Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office
One-Day Operation (3/24/10)
9 Notices to Appear
El Dorado Hills
El Dorado County
El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office
Department of Insurance
Two-Day Operation (3/23-24/10)
12 Notices to Appear
Morgan Hill
Santa Clara County
Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office One-Day Operation (3/23/10)
8 Notices to Appear
1 Taken to Jail
Rancho Cordova
Sacramento County
Rancho Cordova Police Department
Rancho Cordova Code Enforcement
Two-Day Operation (3/23-24/10)
24 Notices to Appear
23 Citations for no business license
2 Repeat Offenders
Chowchilla
Madera County
Madera County Sheriff’s Department Two-Day Operation (3/23-24/10)
10 Notices to Appear
Delano
Kern County
Kern County District Attorney’s Office
Kern County Code Compliance
Department of Insurance
One-Day Operation (3/23/10)
6 Notices to Appear
DA issued 3 Notices to Appear (No Workers’ Compensation Insurance)
Bakersfield
Kern County
Kern County District Attorney’s Office
Kern County Code Compliance
Department of Insurance
One-Day Operation (3/24/10)
13 Notices to Appear
2 Repeat Offenders
Santa Maria
Santa Barbara County
Santa Maria Police Department Two-Day Operation (3/23-24/10)
15 Notices to Appear
DA issued 8 Citations (No Workers’ Compensation Insurance)
1 Suspect’s CSLB License was Revoked in 2005 – Registered Sex Offender
Calabasas
Los Angeles County
Department of Toxic Substances Control Two-Day Operation (3/23-24/10)
22 Notices to Appear
1 suspect driving with suspended license
1 suspect had no driver license
1 suspect brought 6-year-old daughter
Orange
Orange County
Orange Police Department
Orange Code Enforcement
Orange County District Attorney’s Office
Two-Day Operation (3/23-24/10)
18 Notices to Appear
1 Taken to Jail – Burglary, Child Abuse, Domestic Violence
4 Repeat Offenders – Two of them were caught in sting last October in San Clemente. One was convicted by jury last month. Another asked why he was called again since he’d been caught before
1 Registered Sex Offender
Chino Hills
San Bernardino County
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department
Department of Insurance
Two-Day Operation (3/23-24/10)
24 Notices to Appear
2 Taken to Jail – One had five arrest warrants; the other had an unpaid $1,000.00 administrative citation that resulted from a complaint to CSLB. He also had an arrest warrant out of Riverside County for embezzlement and diversion of construction funds. He could also face additional charges in San Bernardino County because narcotics were found in his vehicle.
1 Freebie: Uninvited tree trimmer showed up at front door with a flyer and asked undercover investigator if they had any tree trimming or landscaping they needed done. He submitted a bid for $2,000.
1 72-year-old suspect said he’d “Had it with California and is moving to Florida”

The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. More information about hiring contractors is available on the CSLB Web site (www.cslb.ca.gov or www.CheckTheLicenseFirst.com) or by calling 800-321-CSLB (2752). CSLB licenses and regulates California’s 310,000 contractors, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2008-09, CSLB helped recover nearly $36 million in ordered restitution for consumers.

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