HOLLISTER – When investigators with the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) teamed up with Hollister police officers and the San Benito County District Attorney's office in search of unlicensed contractors, they had no trouble finding people suspected of breaking the law.
The law enforcement team set up an undercover sting at a house in Hollister on December 2-3, 2015. Investigators posed as the owners of the home with a list of improvement projects to complete, including interior and exterior painting, landscaping, fencing, plumbing and concrete work. Using a list of leads compiled from business cards, newspaper and phone book ads, online advertising sites, and a CSLB complaint, they invited suspected unlicensed contractors in the area to stop by and give estimates. The results? Eleven people were cited on illegal contracting charges.
"We never want to see unsuspecting homeowners getting ripped off," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. "That's why CSLEA is proud of the work our CSLB investigators do. Year-round, investigators conduct undercover stings to reel in people who are bidding on home improvement jobs that are bigger than they are. The larger jobs, more than $500 for labor and/or materials, require contractors to have a license from the State of California."
Contractors who are licensed by the state have submitted to a background check and have passed state required tests.
In the sting in Hollister, nine of the 11 cited for contracting without a license were also cited for a misdemeanor charge of illegal advertising. Penalties for first-time unlicensed contracting convictions include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines.