Phony Contractors Have a Busy and Busted Holiday Season
Multiple arrests in Contractors State License Board operations
SACRAMENTO — Nine people were arrested during operations conducted this week by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) to root out illegal contracting activity in the Sacramento area. Eight of those arrests came during an undercover sting operation in Elk Grove near Cosumnes River College on Wednesday (Dec. 13). The operation conducted in conjunction with the Elk Grove Police Department and the Sacramento County District Attorney's office.
CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) members posed as homeowners and invited suspected unlicensed operators in to bid on projects that included: decks, landscaping, roofing, tree removal and landscaping. The investigators say they had a lot of response from illegal operators who complained about a recent downturn in business. When their bids exceeded the legal limit of $500 (labor & materials) they illegal acted "in the capacity as a contractor".
Eight people who were arrested and booked in the Elk Grove operation had prior illegal contracting charges and felony warrants. Six vehicles were towed and impounded. Eight of the individuals were given a Notice to Appear (NTA) before a Sacramento County Superior Court judge in about one month to face misdemeanor charges. The NTA carries a maximum six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 fine for a first-time conviction.
Several of the people who showed up were illegally using other contractor's license numbers which is a felony. (7027.3 B&P). One man, Randy Nab was arrested for illegal use of the number from Nick Construction for an $8,000 deck bid. The owners of the company say he was dismissed earlier in the week. Mr. Nab was in possession of materials that indicated he had more than 300 clients. His case and several others face further investigation.
The Rocklin Building Department tipped off the CSLB to another case of illegal license use. David Lucchesi was arrested on Monday (Dec. 11) for using a number that belonged to another contractor and forging signatures on documents submitted to the building department for a commercial building project. Mr. Lucchesi's own license was under bond suspension.
The CSLB teams with local law enforcement to conduct stings on an almost weekly basis all around the state. Not only are homeowners put at risk when they hire these phony contractors, the state''s 304,000 licensed contractors have to compete against the lawbreakers, who underbid them on jobs. The unlicensed operators rarely pay payroll taxes, carry workers' compensation insurance on their employees and other costs that legitimate contractors pay. They are part of a $60 to $140 billion dollar underground economy that takes money away from roads, schools and law enforcement.
"The CSLB and our community partners are serious about going after people who break the law." said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "Homeowners face a high financial risk if something goes wrong with an unlicensed operator and legitimate business people have a hard time competing against people who are cheating."
The CSLB urges homeowners to be careful before inviting any contractor into their house or agreeing to have any work done. Ask to see their state contractor's license and go online or call CSLB's automated phone system to verify that the license is valid. They can also check out the contractor's license history and get bond and personnel information.
The CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips when dealing with a building contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors and ask to see the license;
- Don't rush into decisions and 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;
- Verify the contractor's license by checking online or via CSLB's automated phone service at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752)
- Never pay more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less;
- Don't pay cash, and don't let the payments get ahead of the work; and
- Get three bids, check references, and 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 305,000 contractors, and investigates more than 20,000 complaints against contractors annually. In fiscal year 2005-06, the CSLB helped consumers get more than $36 million in restitution.
Sign Up For News Release Email Alerts
Please type in your email below and click submit.