SACRAMENTO - On August 1-2, 2018, Contractors State License Board investigators busted more than a dozen workers suspected of contracting illegally in Rancho Cordova.
“This type of enforcement effort is a way to help protect consumers, but it also helps to protect licensed contractors who often lose jobs to unlicensed contractors who bid low because they don’t have the expenses of a licensed contractor,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.
CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) investigators went undercover as homeowners and contacted alleged unlicensed individuals to bid on home improvement projects at a single-family home near Mather Airport. Thirteen suspects bid on projects from remodeling the kitchen and painting the interior and exterior of the home to plumbing.
Twelve people were cited 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. The penalty for violating the advertising rules for unlicensed contractors is a fine of $700 to $1,000 .
In addition, ten individuals placed bids ranging from $1,150 to $5,300, well above the $500 legal threshold for contracting without a license in California. First-conviction penalties for contracting without a license include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. A second conviction can carry a mandatory sentence of up to 90 days in jail. Penalties are more severe with each successive violation.
The undercover operation also resulted in two people receiving a third citation for requiring an excessive down payment. It's illegal for contractors to ask for more than 10 percent down or $1,000 for home improvement projects, whichever is less.
Lastly, one of the suspects did not carry workers' compensation (WC) insurance policies to cover those working for him. This resulted in a "stop order" (a legal demand to cease all employee labor at a job site), as the unlicensed individual brought his hired help with him to the home.
All offenders were ordered to answer to misdemeanor charges on October 3, 2018, at 8:30 a.m. at the Sacramento County Superior Court.