Despite widespread publicity that state investigators are on the prowl for people who are bidding on home improvement jobs that are bigger than they are, unlicensed contractors continue to show up at undercover stings hoping to walk away with a job. Instead, they walk away in handcuffs.
"The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) hasn't kept this a secret," said Alan Barcelona, president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) which represents investigators who conduct these undercover operations. "CSLB investigators have been very public about their undercover stings, their arrests, and the fact that if a person is bidding on a home improvement job higher than $500, labor and material combined, that person must have a CSLB-issued license. Plain and simple."
On September 23, 2014, CSLB investigators set up shop at a cabin in the mountains 20 miles north of San Bernardino. Using ads in a neighborhood newspaper, investigators contacted people they suspected were contracting without a license and requested bids for jobs that included painting, tree removal, roofing and flooring. Five men who do not possess a CSLB-issued license provided bids much higher than what is legal and were cited for contracting without a license. The bids ranged from $2,000 to $7,300.
Investigators conducted a similar sting on September 24th and 25th by posing as homeowners at a house in Fresno. This time, investigators contacted suspected unlicensed contractors who advertised on craigslist. They cited 13 people who placed bids higher than $500.00 on proposed projects and could not provide a CSLB-issued license. One of the suspects has now been caught in three CSLB sting operations.
"This is definitely a situation of consumer beware," said Barcelona. "There's a reason these guys don't possess a CSLB-issued license. It's possible they don't know enough to pass the test or they have a criminal history. Either case, do you want these people working in and around your home and your family. I think not."