On November 20th, 2012

Protecting Consumers - Undercover Stings

Undercover and armed with a surveillance camera!  That is a surefire way to go after those who contract without a license.  Unlicensed contractors put consumers at risk and our California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) members who are investigators with the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) know it. These investigators have no shortage of work and have conducted back-to-back sting operations throughout the state to enforce California's construction laws.

"This is the true definition of consumer protection," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "So many consumers hire someone from an ad they see in the paper or online.  They may not know the right questions to ask and they think they're saving money.  Our investigators root out the shady things that go on, and quite frankly,  root out the equally as shady characters."

The  most recent take-down by CSLB investigators netted nine suspected lawbreakers, four of whom were arrested and five of whom were cited, all caught in the CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) undercover operation in Fair Oaks on November 7, 2012. 

According to a CSLB press release, investigators posed as homeowners looking to hire people for home improvement projects.  The projects consisted of things like removing trees, landscaping, fencing and painting.  When four people suspected of contracting without a license bid more than $500, they were arrested.  According to California law, home improvement jobs that total $500 dollars or more (labor & material) must be performed by a contractor licensed by CSLB. 

The four people  arrested face jail and/or fines.  The five who were cited face fines totaling $5,650.   

"The CSLB is one of the most enforcement and proactive regulatory agencies in the state," said California Association of Regulatory Investigators & Inspectors (CARII) President Tom Ineichen.  "This proactive, rather than reactive approach means investigators are stepping in before another consumer falls victim and loses money due to an unlicensed contractor.  I'm very proud of our CARII investigators who work for the CSLB, thank you and kudos for another job well done. "

The CSLB warns, among other things, an unlicensed contractor puts property owners at risk for having to pay if the worker is hurt on the owner's property.

Consumers beware!  The cases in Fair Oaks are not isolated incidents.  The SWIFT team has been busy.  Investigators conducted simultaneous stings in seven counties on October 17 and 18, 2012 and arrested 92 people for the same thing,  charges of contracting without a license.

For CSLB press releases and video see: http://www.cslb.ca.gov/GeneralInformation/Newsroom/

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