On February 27th, 2013

Why Investigators Target Unlicensed Contractors Seaside Man Suspected Of Stealing From Seniors

sefa_pictureInvestigators with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) suspect there are more than just two senior citizens who fell prey to an unlicensed contractor in the Monterey area.

Nito Kalisi Sefa, 29, of Seaside is  accused of bilking two victims,  both in their 80's,  out of more than $100,000.   He was arrested Tuesday, February 19, 2013 on more than 15 charges, including burglary, forgery, and theft by false pretence.  He is also charged with fraudulent use of a contractor license number and contracting without a license.

 "There is no shortage of work for our CSLEA members who are investigators with the Contractors State License Board," said Alan Barcelona, president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA).  CSLB investigators are members of CSLEA.  "This case shines a gigantic spotlight on the need for the investigative work they do up and down the state.  They are on the frontline of consumer protection, day in and day out.   It's hard to believe someone could be so ruthless as to rip off senior citizens, but that's what these investigators uncovered."

"There is no shortage of work for our CSLEA members who are investigators with the Contractors State License Board," said Alan Barcelona, president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA).  CSLB investigators are members of CSLEA.  "This case shines a gigantic spotlight on the need for the investigative work they do up and down the state.  They are on the frontline of consumer protection, day in and day out.   It's hard to believe someone could be so ruthless as to rip off senior citizens, but that's what these investigators uncovered."

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Investigators first snared Sefa in an undercover sting operation last October.  He was accused of acquiring jobs under a company name similar to one used by a relative who is a licensed contractor, using the relative's license number.  

Sefa allegedly stole blank checks from his victims, forged their names and cashed the checks for tens of thousands of dollars.

In an effort to combat the growing number of people who contract without a license in California, which puts consumers at risk, CSLB investigators regularly conduct undercover sting operations.

In a recent sting in Oakdale, investigators cited 10 people for contracting without a license.  In addition, four of those cited are also accused of asking for an excessive down payment.  One of the 10, Joel Leal Reza, 33, of Manteca,  was handcuffed and taken to jail on a DUI warrant.  Investigators report he also had fake IDs.

What happens to those convicted of contracting without a license?  Here is one example:  On February 4, 2013, Jose Gonzalez, 59, of Salinas, admitted to charges that included contracting without a license and was immediately sentenced to misdemeanor probation for three years, 40 days in county jail and ordered to pay more than $15,000 in fines. 

Expect to hear more about contracting without a license as state lawmakers discuss newly introduced bills aimed at curbing the underground economy and protecting California consumers.

CSLB Press Release on Sefa

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