CSLB Undercover Sting Highlights Importance of Consumers Looking at All Home Improvement Ads


Illegal ads lead investigators right to more than one dozen suspected unlicensed contractors

SACRAMENTO – A quick sift through business cards posted at local home improvement stores and online ads were all Contractors State License Board (CSLB) investigators needed to identify more than a dozen alleged unlicensed painters to call them out to an undercover sting operation in Anaheim.

On August 22-23, CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) joined forces with the Anaheim City Attorney's Office and Anaheim Police Department to conduct operation at a single family home near the city's Convention Center.

SWIFT investigators posed as homeowners and reached out to alleged unlicensed contractors. Thirteen individuals agreed to go out to provide a bid on painting both the interior and exterior of the home.

The suspects' bids ranged from $1,500 to $3,800, well above the legal threshold for contracting without a license.

In California, it's illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work, including painting, on any project valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs. As a result, the suspects could now face a misdemeanor charge of contracting without a license (Business and Professions Code (BPC) §7028). First-conviction penalties include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. A second conviction carries a mandatory 90 days in jail. Penalties are more severe with each successive violation.

All individuals could face an additional charge for illegal advertising. Licensed contractors must display their license number in all advertisements; 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.

CSLB urges homeowners to be on the look-out for some simple advertising clues that can help them avoid hiring someone who is unlicensed. "Licensed or unlicensed, advertising rules apply to both sides," said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. "Consumers should look for the six or seven-digit 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." Consumers should then look up the license number on CSLB's website to verify its accuracy.

Consumers can also use the new online, "Find My Licensed Contractor" feature to download and/or print a list of qualified licensed contractors in their area.

All suspects caught in last week's sting are scheduled to appear in court on November 27-28, 2018 at 8:30 am at the North Justice Center, 1275 N. Berkley Avenue, Fullerton, CA 92832 (MAP).

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

DAY 1
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Edgar Arturo Velazquez
Anaheim
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Javier Silva Araujo
Garden Grove
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
William Wineberry, Jr.
Pomona
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Luis Cuestas
Moreno Valley
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Ezequiel Ortiz Martinez
Anaheim
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Reyes Zamudio Alejo
Santa Ana
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Edgar Daniel Betancourt
Anaheim
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising

DAY 2
SUSPECT NAME
CITY OF RESIDENCE
LICENSE CLASSIFICATION ALLEGED VIOLATION
Alfredo Legorreta Lopez
Midway City
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Efrain Jara Cervantes
Paramount
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Francisco Cabrera Perulero
Hemet
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Michael Ron Venegas
Corona
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Francisco Ramirez Gonzalez
Anaheim
C-33 Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,
Illegal advertising
Hugo Martinez Martinez
Los Angeles
C-33 Painting and Decorating 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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