CSLB Goes Undercover to Prove Why Contracting without a License in Orange County is No Day at the Beach


Dana Point sting operation lands eight suspects in hot water

SACRAMENTO – On May 8-9, 2019, Contractors State License Board (CSLB) investigators cited eight suspected unlicensed contractors expecting to get a pay-day, but instead walked away from a sting operation with a notice to appear in court and date to go before a judge in Orange County Superior Court.

CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) partnered with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, and the Orange County Sherriff’s Department for the undercover operation, which took place in a single-family home near Capistrano Beach in Dana Point.

SWIFT investigators posed as homeowners and set-up appointments with suspected unlicensed contractors. The eight who showed-up provided bids for home improvement projects such as laying tile, pouring concrete, and flooring.

The suspects’ bids ranged between $1,200 and $10,000 for tiling, $5,400 for pouring concrete, and up to $10,000 for flooring – well over the legal threshold for contracting without a license.

In California, it's illegal for an unlicensed person to perform any contracting work on a home improvement project valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs. The eight suspects could now face a misdemeanor charge of contracting without a license (Business and Professions Code (BPC) §7028(a)). First-conviction penalties include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines.

Seven of the suspects could face an additional misdemeanor charge for illegal advertising. Licensed contractors must display their license number in all advertisements and unlicensed contractors must state in all ads that they do not have a license (BPC §7027.1). The penalty for violating the advertising rules for unlicensed contractors is a fine of $700 to $1,000.

"Consumers should look for the contractor’s state license number on the ad, or a brief statement that they are not licensed. If you don't see either, assume they're not licensed," said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. "Homeowners should then verify the contractor’s license status on CSLB’s online Instant License Check feature."

Additionally, two of the bidders asked for an excessive down payment before starting work and were also written-up for that alleged violation. It is illegal to ask for more than 10 percent down or $1,000, whichever is less (BPC §7159.5 (a)(3)(b)).

All suspects were ordered to appear in court at the Orange County Superior Court, 700 Civic Center Drive West, Santa Ana, CA 92701 on August 22 and August 29 at 8:30 a.m.

NOTE: All suspects are presumed innocent until their case is resolved.

DAY 1 – DANA POINT
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Aristeo Arteago
Anaheim
C-15 Flooring Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Excessive Down payment
Mohsen Espahbod
Lake Forest
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising,
Excessive Down payment
Jeffrey Peter Woodrow
Capistrano Beach
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License
Mehdi Abbasinik
Aliso Viejo
C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising

DAY 2 – DANA POINT
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Miguel Angel Perez Romero
Orange
C-15 Flooring Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Steve Paul Ponce
Tustin
C-15 Flooring Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Carolus Eduardo Quintanilla Rivas
Pomona
C-8 Concrete Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising
Emilio Martinez
San Juan Capistrano
C-15 Flooring Contractor Contracting Without a License,
Illegal Advertising

The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. CSLB licenses and regulates almost 290,000 contractors in California and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2017-18, CSLB helped recover over $50 million in ordered restitution for consumers.

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