CSLB Most Wanted Offender Arrested
Samuela Lavulavu behind bars for scamming elderly
SACRAMENTO — One of the Contractors State License Board’s (CSLB) Most Wanted remains behind bars in Alameda County after his recent arrest by the Pinole Police Department after an alert security guard notified authorities.
Samuela Lavulavu, 54, of Oakland, was taken into custody on May 13, 2011, after a motel security guard became suspicious of Lavulavu. The guard searched the Internet, found that there was an active warrant for his arrest, and turned him in. Lavulavu had an outstanding bench warrant for failing to appear in court on charges of grand theft elder abuse related to a construction job.
Lavulavu had been on the lam since the warrant was issued in December 2008. He is also believed to have placed illegal online advertisements for construction work that stated he was licensed and insured. He is known to have operated throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, requesting excessive cash down payments, and would begin, and then abandon jobs.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office filed additional charges against Lavulavu for contracting without a license and diversion of construction funds that included a 2009 case where he is believed to have defrauded a Fremont woman.
Lavulavu is known to have had previous run-ins with the law, and was convicted in 1996 of three counts of contracting without a license in Utah.
"We hope others who have been victimized by this serial scammer will come forward," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "We also urge consumers to go online to our website to make sure the contractor they want to hire is properly licensed by the state."
Anyone who believes they may have been scammed by Lavulavu or his company, Top Quality Concrete & Construction, should contact Deputy District Attorney Scott Patton, Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, at (510) 383-8600 or CSLB’s Northern SWIFT office at (916) 255-2924.
Individuals included on the CSLB Most Wanted list have been identified as some of the worst unlicensed violators and are known to prey on vulnerable and unsuspecting homeowners, whether involved in new home or home improvement projects. Complaints against these individuals have been lodged with CSLB, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors’ offices around the state, and warrants have been issued for the arrest of those who appear on this list. Anyone who knows the whereabouts of a person on the CSLB Most Wanted list can contact their local police or sheriff's department. After contacting local law enforcement, call CSLB at (916) 255-2924 for northern California; (559) 445-5583 for central California or (562) 345-7600 for southern California.
CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips before hiring somebody to work on their home:
- Hire only licensed contractors and ask to see their license and a photo ID to verify their identity.
- Always check the license number on CSLB’s website at www.cslb.ca.gov or www.CheckTheLicenseFirst.com to make sure the license is in good standing.
- Don’t pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment. There is an exception for about two dozen licensees who carry special bonds to protect consumers. These exceptions are noted on CSLB’s website.
- Don’t pay in cash, and don’t let payments get ahead of the work.
- Get at least 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. More information and publications about hiring contractors are available on the CSLB website or by calling 800-321-CSLB (2752). You can also sign up for CSLB email alerts at www.cslb.ca.gov. CSLB licenses and regulates California's more than 300,000 contractors, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2009-10, CSLB helped recover nearly $42 million in ordered restitution for consumers.
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