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Stings Snare Dozens of CA Contractors

Monday, February 23, 2015

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More than 30 contractors, including nine painters, are facing licensing and other charges after two undercover sting operations by California authorities.

The Contractors State License Board orchestrated the operations Feb. 10-12 in Costa Mesa and Clovis.

unlicensed contractors
Contractors State License Board

California's Contractors State License BoardBoard aggressively monitors contractor licensing, insurance and advertising in the state. The board partnered with police on the February round-ups.

CSLB investigators partnered with local law enforcement to pose as homeowners, then invited the suspected unlicensed operators to bid on various jobs, including interior painting, concrete and flooring work.

The suspects will face misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license and, in many cases, illegal advertising.

Costa Mesa Operation

In Costa Mesa, the sting ran Feb. 11 and 12 out of a home near a local shopping center.  Bids provided by the suspects ranged from $1,650 for interior painting to $13,000 for concrete work.

Under California law, any home-improvement job totaling $500 or more (including labor and materials) requires that the contractor have a state-issued license. In addition, all advertising by unlicensed contractors must state that they are not licensed.

© iStock.com / LuminaStock

Suspected unlicensed contractors submitted bids ranging from $1,650 for interior painting to $13,000 for concrete work.

The Costa Mesa action netted 14 suspects accused of contracting without a license. Twelve also face a charge of illegal advertising.

Two suspects may also be charged with illegally using another contractor’s license number. And 13 were cited by Costa Mesa Code Enforcement for not having a business license.

Area Building Boom

The community has seen a 21 percent increase in building permits over the past three years.

“A lot of available work means an influx of unlicensed contractors hoping to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers,” the CSLB said.

Cindi Christenson

Cindi Christenson was named the CSLB Registrar of Contractors in December. Her appointment became effective Jan. 1. She replaced retired Registrar Stephen P. Sands.

“The timing of the sting could not be better,” said Costa Mesa Building Official Khanh Nguyen. “We’ve had an increase in calls from residents regarding shoddy workmanship or unfinished work by unlicensed contractors.”

Clovis Sting Nets 19

In Clovis, the operation ran Feb. 10 and 11 at a home near Fresno State. Many of the contractors were found through Craigslist posts.

Bids by the contractors ranged from $600 for interior painting to $4,680 for fence installation.

That sting produced charges of illegal contracting against 19 people, including one who turned out to be a registered sex offender, officials said.

“It’s disturbing, but not surprising, when unlicensed people who have had past run-ins with the law turn up at our stings,” said CSLB's new Registrar, Cindi Christenson, who assumed her position Jan. 1.

The Contractors State License Board operates under the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The Board aggressively monitors contractor licensing, insurance and advertising in the state.


Tagged categories: Business operations; Contractors; Contractors State License Board; Criminal acts; Enforcement; Painters; Residential contractors

Comment from Dennis Guy, (2/23/2015, 7:52 AM)

To be fair, this article should have included how much it costs and what it takes to get a license in that state. On the flipside what about entrapment? Legal?

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (2/23/2015, 8:45 AM)

So, could these contractors stay legal by quoting for pieces of the project creating a number of smaller jobs, each quoted at $499.99?

Comment from Gregory Stoner, (2/24/2015, 4:41 PM)

Fortunately it doesn't seem that the California Contractors State License Board wants to hear about 'To be fair' or other crap. Get licensed or don't bid on the work. Not to hard of a concept.

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