SACRAMENTO – On March 16-17, 2021, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) partnered with the California Department of Insurance (CDI) and Kern County District Attorney’s Office to conduct an undercover sting operation targeting unlicensed contracting in Bakersfield. As a result, fourteen individuals were cited for placing illegal bids on home improvement projects. In addition, some did not carry the proper workers’ compensation insurance for their employees.
During the operation, CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) investigators reached out to alleged unlicensed contractors through their advertisements soliciting for construction work. SWIFT investigators then posed as homeowners and invited suspects to place bids at a single-family home near Meadows Field Airport.
Of the individuals contacted, 14 came to place bids on fencing, flooring, landscaping, electrical, and painting. Bids ranged from $1,200 to $17,500. Twelve of those suspects are now facing illegal contracting charges for placing bids well over the legal $500 threshold that requires a contractor license and two were referred to the Kern County DA for further action. First-conviction penalties for contracting without a license in California include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines.
“These undercover stings by investigators help to protect consumers as well as licensed contractors,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “Unlicensed contractors often put consumers at risk. Consumers should always check the CSLB to be sure they are hiring a contractor who has a state license.”
All 14 individuals are facing an additional misdemeanor charge for their illegal advertisements. Licensed contractors must display their license number in all advertisements; unlicensed contractors must state in all ads for work valued at less than $500 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.
Twelve of the suspects who did not have the proper workers’ compensation insurance policies to cover those working for them are facing additional charges. As a reminder, contractors must carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have employees.