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CSLB Press Release - 04/15/10

Contractors State License Board Cements 15 Cases against Unlicensed Contractors

Phony concrete and painting contractors targeted in two-day undercover operation


SACRAMENTO — A Contractors State License Board (CSLB) sting operation in Hayward on April 13 and 14, 2010 shows the underground economy is active in the East Bay. CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT), in cooperation with the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, conducted the undercover operation. SWIFT was formed to crack down on unlicensed operators who skirt state and federal tax, employment, and licensing laws.

SWIFT investigators posed as home owners seeking painting and concrete work at the home, near the Cal State East Bay campus. Investigators identified the suspected violators through online and local print advertisements, and referrals from the District Attorney's Office. The 15 who were arrested and received Notices to Appear (NTA) in court are scheduled for arraignment on May 13, 2010, in the Alameda County Court facility at 24405 Amador Street in Hayward.

"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 CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "In reality, you might not pay more by hiring a state-licensed contractor. You also have the added assurance of knowing that your contractor has license bonds and workers' compensation insurance to protect property owners from liability, and is not cheating the state's tax payers and legitimate licensees"

All home improvement projects costing more than $500 for labor and materials must be performed by a licensed contractor according to the California Business and Professions Code (B&P). Contractors must include their CSLB license number in all contracts and advertisements. Those who are not licensed and performing jobs valued at less than $500 must state that they are not a licensed contractor in their ads.

California law also prohibits solicitation of a down payment larger than $1,000 or 10 percent of the contract price, whichever is less. About two dozen contractors noted on CSLB's Web site www.cslb.ca.gov have exceptions to the down payment law, as they have purchased special bonds for consumer protection.

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, www.CheckTheLicenseFirst.com or via CSLB's automated phone system at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752)
  • 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.

VIOLATION

SUSPECT

LICENSE CLASSIFICATION

Contracting without a license,
illegal advertising

Daniel Raymon Ortega
Fremont

Painting

Contracting without a license,
illegal advertising

James Edward Parker
Castro Valley

Painting

Contracting without a license,
illegal advertising

Lesa Marie Maldonado
Union City

Painting

Contracting without a license
, illegal advertising

Nasig Souki
Albany

Painting

Contracting without a license

Joseph Bruce Moore
Hayward

Painting

Contracting without a license,
illegal advertising

Jose Cleofas Sandoval
Hayward

Painting

Contracting without a license,
illegal advertising

Gabriel Mayorga
Oakland

Painting

Contracting without a license,
illegal advertising

Michael Garnet Mauldin
Fremont

Painting

Contracting without a license,
illegal advertising

Manuel Sanchez
Hayward

Painting

Contracting without a license,
illegal advertising

Minh Phan
Fremont

Concrete

Contracting without a license,
illegal advertising

Ruben Dionicio Rivera
Oakland

Painting

Contracting without a license,
illegal advertising

Joseph Beddawi
Fremont

Concrete

Contracting without a license,
illegal advertising

Charles D. Allums
El Cerrito

Painting

Contracting without a license

Steven Farrell
Woodside

Painting

Contracting without a license,
illegal advertising

Jose Alberto Lopez-Ortiz

Painting

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 almost 310,000 contractors, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2008-09, CSLB investigated more than 20,000 complaints and helped recover nearly $36 million in ordered restitution for consumers.