State Contractors Board Rounds Up Suspects Accused of Preying on Elk Grove New Homeowners
Five Felony Arrests of Repeat Offenders
SACRAMENTO — Five suspects accused of ripping off consumers in new Elk Grove housing developments face felony charges after being caught in a sting set up by the California State Contractors Board (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT).
Arraignment was scheduled Tuesday for the suspects caught in the sting that took place on September 27 and 28 with help from Elk Grove Police. One suspect faces extradition to Nevada where he is listed on the State of Nevada Contractors Board's 10 Most Wanted List.
The targets were known repeat offenders in the area who had been previously cited or prosecuted for unlicensed contracting and other charges. They were all involved in unlicensed concrete work under the company names of: Aloha Concrete, TJ Concrete, Little Junior, and All Seasons Concrete. Fines go up with each conviction and repeat offenders face an automatic 90 days or more in jail.
A number of incidents brought CSLB's SWIFT Team into Elk Grove. "We got word that new home subdivisions have been saturated with business cards and flyers from unlicensed operators advertising everything from landscaping to window blinds," said David Fogt, CSLB Enforcement Chief. "The Board also received a number of complaints about fraud, theft and financial elder abuse in the area."
"Consumers need to recognize the dangers of hiring unlicensed operators," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "They can do a lot of damage. That is why it is so important to make sure the person they hire has a valid license by checking them out with the Board."
Consumers can verify a contractor's license status using the CSLB's Web site at www.cslb.ca.gov or toll-free automated telephone system at (800) 321-CSLB (2752). They can also report contractors or unlicensed activity to the Board by filling out a Hot Lead Referral Form.
By law, all contractors who perform work that totals $500 or more (labor and materials) must be licensed by the CSLB. Because many unlicensed operators don't comply with the workers compensation laws, they often submit lower bids on jobs. But, if one of their workers is injured on the job, the homeowner could be considered liable. And, if a deal goes bad with an unlicensed contractor, the homeowner has very few options.
The CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips when dealing with a contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors and ask to see the license
- Don't hire the first contractor who comes along
- Be especially hesitant when approached by someone offering home improvement services door-to-door, especially when they will use material they claim is left over from another job
- Don't rush into repairs, no matter how badly they're needed
- Verify the contractor's license at www.cslb.ca.gov or (800) 321-CSLB
- 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
- Get three bids, check references, and get a written contract
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 292,000 contractors, and investigates more than 20,000 complaints against contractors annually. In fiscal year 2004-05, the CSLB helped consumers get more than $36 million in restitution.
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