Unlicensed Contractors Caught in Sting Due in Court

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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