STOCKTON – During the week of August 20th, 2018, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) cited 20 individuals for contracting without a license at a sting held at a single-family home near University of the Pacific. CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) posed as homeowners and invited suspected unlicensed contractors to bid on jobs that included landscaping, flooring, cabinet installation, paving concrete, tree trimming, and painting the home.
“Undercover operations such as this work to protect consumers and also licensed contractors,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “Home improvement projects and construction work should be done by a contractor who has taken the appropriate steps to become licensed by the state, including submitting to a background check.”
During the two-day sting, 19 workers provided bids l over the legal threshold for contracting without a license including $6,400 for landscaping, $8,000 for a kitchen remodel, and $18,559 to lay concrete.
In California, it's illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work on any project valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs. 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 carries a mandatory 90 days in jail. Penalties are more severe with each successive violation.
Eighteen individuals may also face an additional charge 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.
One of the suspects cited is facing a third violation for fraudulently using the license of another. A conviction of this crime could result in up to a year in jail and/or up to $10,000 in fines.
The California Department of Insurance and the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office assisted with the sting.