Unscrupulous and Unlicensed Contractors Arrested
Contractors Board Issues Advisory
SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) issued an advisory today, warning Northern California consumers that unlicensed and unscrupulous contractors are out to perpetrate scams during this spring remodeling season. In just the last two weeks, CSLB cases have netted nearly 20 unlicensed contractors operating in the Sacramento region.
CSLB teamed with Stanislaus County investigators to arrest unlicensed contractor Tony Lee Zarate on allegations of felony burglary, theft from an elder adult, diversion of construction funds, elder adult abuse and fraudulent use of a contractor's license number. Zarate allegedly would visit mobile home parks, offering to wash and inspect coaches for $50. Zarate then would claim the coach was in need of repairs. In one instance, a victim paid Zarate more than $120,000 for work valued at less than $10,000.
The Woodland Police Department worked with CSLB on cases against Timothy Scott David, another unlicensed contractor. Victims complained to police after receiving civil court judgments against David, which he has refused to pay. David is charged with felony diversion of construction funds, contracting without a license and fraud. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
The CSLB arrested Minh Van Tran on April 21, who was operating illegally after his license was revoked by the CSLB in 2000. Tran was arrested during a CSLB undercover sting conducted to crack down on unlicensed contracting. He was booked into Sacramento County jail on an outstanding warrant for contracting without a license. Tran was issued a notice to appear before a judge for the new charge of contracting without a license. The CSLB is asking the court to invoke the new law requiring repeat offenders to serve a 90-day minimum jail sentence.
In the CSLB undercover sting operation in Carmichael, a total of 15 unlicensed contractors were cited for contracting without a license. Thirteen were issued Notices to Appear before a judge and two were given administrative citations. These phony contractors bid on projects ranging from landscaping and decking to concrete and painting.
Anyone performing contracting work that costs $500 or more (labor and materials) must be licensed by the CSLB. To become licensed, one must verify four years of experience in their trade, pass a two-part examination, post a license bond, and provide workers' compensation insurance for employees.
CSLB strongly urges homeowners to check a contractor's license with the CSLB and verify that the license number, business name and address match with information given by any soliciting contractor.
The CSLB urges all consumers to follow these tips when hiring a contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors
- Check the license with the CSLB at www.cslb.ca.gov
- Get at least three bids and check references
- Get a written contract, and don't sign it until you understand the terms
- Don't pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment
- Don't pay cash and don't let the payments get ahead of the work.
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 278,000 contractors, and investigates 25,000 complaints against contractors annually.
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