Homeless Shelter Project Lures Phony Contractors into Woodland Sting Operation
Contractors State License Board, Yolo County and other State Agencies team up in successful enforcement operation
WOODLAND — Twelve people were arrested for contracting without a license after they showed up to bid on projects Wednesday at what they thought was a proposed homeless shelter. It was, in fact, a joint undercover operation conducted by the Contractors State License Board, the Yolo Unlicensed Rapid Apprehension Team (YoURAT), Woodland Police Department, Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), Department of Insurance (DOI), and the Employment Development Department (EDD).
The suspects were selected from complaint files and illegal advertisements. They bid on projects at the commercial site in Woodland for landscaping, painting, flooring and drywall jobs. The twelve face misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license. DIR's Division of Labor Standards Enforcement issued civil fines against six of the employers. Another contractor was fined by EDD for paying employees under the table.
"Unlicensed operators are part of a multi-billion dollar underground economy that takes jobs away from legitimate contractors, and tax dollars," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "They seldom offer insurance for their workers and offer no guarantees for the property owners who use them. Property owners have little recourse if something goes wrong with an unlicensed operator."
The CSLB urges consumers to follow these 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, or via CSLB's automated phone service at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).
- Don't 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.
- Check references; get three bids and a written contract.
- Contact the CSLB if you have a complaint against a contractor.
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 316,000 contractors, and investigates more than 20,000 complaints against contractors annually. In fiscal year 2006-07, the CSLB helped consumers get almost $45 million in ordered restitution.
Sting Operation Details
12 arrests for contracting without a license
8 Citations from Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) totaling $9,500
2 Criminal filings for violation of Labor Code 3700.5 (Workers Compensation)
1 Administrative citation
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