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CA Contractor Sting Nets 8 Suspects

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

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A recent sting operation that nabbed eight suspected unlicensed contractors, including three painters, took place at an unlikely location—a legitimate contractors' association office.

The Placer County Contractors Association in Roseville, CA, was the setting for the sting Nov. 23, when investigators posed as owners of a commercial real-estate business in need of trade work.

A sign atop the commercial structure identified it as contractors’ association building.

Generally, the Contractors State License Board uses a home as a backdrop for its operations.


Investigators posed as commercial property owners in need of trade work, including painting, at a local contractors' association office.

“Why would unlicensed operators know where the local contractor association office is? They obviously have never been there,” CSLB Registrar Steve Sands said in an announcement.

Bidding Activity

The contractors invited to the Roseville sting had advertised on craigslist.org and posted business cards at local stores.

They provided bids on work that included painting, tile, landscaping and general building projects.

Bids given were as high as $15,000 for landscaping and $10,000 for a bathroom tile project, both far in excess of what the law allows for those working without a CSLB license.

In California, only licensed contractors can accept projects totaling $500 or more in combined labor and material costs, according to officials.

Citations Issued

The eight suspects received misdemeanor citations for contracting without a license. The penalty for a conviction is up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

In addition, seven individuals were cited for illegal advertising. State law requires contractors to place their license number in all print, broadcast, and online advertisements. Contractors without a license may advertise to perform jobs valued at less than $500, but the ad must state that they are not a licensed contractor. The penalty is a fine of $700 to $1,000.

Licensee Invited

One contractor who was invited to the sting turned out to be a licensee who failed to include legally required information in his advertisment, the authorities said.

“He expressed his chagrin in a text message to investigators afterward: ‘Just so you are informed, I removed/deleted all my CL (craigslist) ads. I apologize for meeting under these circumstances. I will keep my promise and word with you and your department,’” the officials reported.

Commercial Owners Beware

The industry association sting demonstrated that unlicensed contractors are just as likely to prey upon business property owners as private homeowners, according to the CSLB.


California's Contractors State License Board wants homeowners and commercial property owners to be on the lookout for unlicensed contractors. A public information video helps get the word out.

“Commercial owners are every bit as vulnerable as homeowners,” Sands said.

The CSLB website includes a license look-up feature that also indicates whether the licensee has the required workers’ compensation coverage and current license bonds. 

The state License Board regulates California's more than 300,000 contractors.


Tagged categories: Bidding; Commercial Construction; Contractors; Contractors State License Board; Ethics; Licensing; Regulations

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