Contractors State License Board Catches Eight in Clovis Undercover Sting
Unlicensed individuals violate multiple state contracting laws
SACRAMENTO — Eight people were issued Notices to Appear (NTA) in Fresno Superior Court and two others are under further investigation after the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) - with assistance from the Clovis Police Department and the Department of Insurance - conducted an undercover sting operation at a Clovis house on September 25, 2012.
The SWIFT team used advertisements from local newspapers, craigslist, and internal referrals to schedule home improvement bids for painting, landscaping, concrete, and fence work. All home improvement jobs valued at $500 or more (combined labor and material costs) must be conducted by a company or person with a contractor license issued by CSLB (Business and Professions Code section 7028).
Five of the phony contractors also were issued Stop Orders for failure to carry workers' compensation insurance. CSLB investigators can halt job site activity when any person with or without a contractor license does not have workers' compensation insurance coverage for employees. Failure to comply with a Stop Order can result in misdemeanor charges and penalties, including 60 days in jail and/or up to $10,000 in fines. Five of the individuals also were cited for violating contractor advertising laws, which require the contractor license number to be included in all forms of advertising (Business and Professions Code section 7027.1).
"Unlicensed individuals pose a risk to consumers and undermine California's economy," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "Always ask for a state contractor license number and confirm the license history on CSLB's website before hiring anyone to do work in or around your home."
The eight listed below who received NTAs are scheduled for arraignment at Fresno County Superior Court (Map), 1100 Van Ness Avenue, Department 402, on either November 13, 2012 or November 27, 2012.
|SUSPECT'S NAME, CITY OF RESIDENCE||WORK
|Todd Vincent Ferreira, Fresno||C-13 - Fencing||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, contract violations, Stop Order-workers' compensation|
|Margaret Franco, Fresno||C-13 - Fencing||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, contract violations, Stop Order-workers' compensation|
|Louis Gene Giudice, Fresno||C-33 - Painting and Decorating||Contracting without a license, contract violations|
|Andrew James Reyburn, Fresno||C-33 - Painting and Decorating||Contracting without a license, contract violations, Stop Order-workers' compensation|
|David Lee Fraser, Clovis||C-27 - Landscaping||Contracting without a license, Stop Order-workers' compensation|
|Julio Cesar Flores, Fresno||C-33 - Painting and Decorating||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising, contract violations, Stop Order-workers' compensation|
|Victor Manuel Bautista-Lopez, Clovis||C-27 - Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
|Enrique Salazar, Fresno||>C-27 - Landscaping||Contracting without a license, illegal advertising|
CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips before hiring anyone to work on their home or business:
- Only hire licensed contractors and ask to see their license and a photo ID to verify their identity. California law requires a license for all home improvement contracts with a combined cost of more than $500 for labor and materials.
- Always check the license number on CSLB's Instant License Check feature to make sure the license is in good standing, and that employees are covered by workers' compensation insurance.
- Never make a down payment of more than 10 percent of the contract price or $1,000, whichever is less.
- Don't pay in cash, and don't let payments get ahead of the work.
- Get at least three bids, check references, get a written contract, and make sure you understand all terms before signing the contract.
- If a contractor has employees, make sure they are covered by a workers' compensation insurance policy, which is noted on the license detail page on CSLB's website. Otherwise, if a worker is injured on the job, the property owner could be liable for medical and other expenses.
The California 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 CSLB's website or by calling (800) 321-CSLB (2752). You also can sign up for CSLB email alerts. CSLB licenses and regulates California's 300,000 contractors, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2011-12, CSLB helped recover nearly $36 million in ordered restitution for consumers. .
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