SACRAMENTO – On January 31, 2020, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), the Butte County District Attorney’s Office, Paradise Police Department, and California Department of Insurance announced the results of a recently conducted two-day undercover sting targeting those contracting without a license in the fire-ravaged community of Paradise.
During the operation, investigators from CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) invited suspected unlicensed contractors to a property overlooking Little Butte Creek. The suspected unlicensed contractors came to the property and gave undercover investigators bids for jobs including fencing, plumbing, concrete and vegetation demolition, and excavation. Nine suspects provided bids ranging from $600 to $25,000. In California, all home improvement jobs from damage totaling $500 or more in combined labor and material costs must be performed by a licensed contractor.
Those nine and three other suspects may face a charge of illegal advertising. Licensed contractors must display their license number in all advertisements; unlicensed contractors must state in their ads that they are not licensed.
The cases will now be turned over to the Butte County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.
“Thank you to the agencies that are working to protect fire victims from further harm,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “By conducting these stings, CSLB is getting the word out that consumers should be sure they are hiring licensed contractors, and unlicensed contractors should only be conducting work in which the job is no more than $500 labor and material combined.”
Homeowners take a huge risk when they hire unlicensed contractors. Most are not properly insured and likely don’t have the skills or knowledge to perform the work. Plus, recourse for homeowners is limited if an unlicensed contractor’s work is substandard or never completed.