SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) teamed up with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and La Habra Police Department for a two-day sting operation in La Habra where 15 individuals received notices to appear in court for contracting without a license and other, related charges.
On June 29-30, 2011, members of CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) posed as owners of a home (June 29) and a business (June 30) and sought bids from suspected unlicensed operators for painting, concrete, drywall, cabinet installation, and flooring. Those who bid more than the legal threshold of $500 for labor and materials received notices to appear in court for violating California contracting laws.
Some of the suspects will also face charges for failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance, soliciting an excessive down payment, and illegal advertising. State law requires contractors to have workers’ compensation coverage for all employees. Contractors are also prohibited from soliciting a down payment larger than $1,000 or 10 percent of the project, whichever is less. There is an exception for about two dozen contractors who purchase special bonds for consumer protection and may ask for larger down payments. The law also requires contractors to put their license number in all advertisements. Those who are not state-licensed and work on projects valued at less than $500 must state that they are not licensed in their ads.
The first suspect caught contracting without a license was on parole for drug crimes. During the second day of the operation a licensed contractor arrived at the commercial building. He thanked CSLB for conducting the sting and for other enforcement efforts aimed at unlicensed, uninsured individuals who he says are cutting into his business.
“CSLB routinely conducts operations like this one in La Habra as part of its mission to protect the state’s consumers and the integrity of the construction industry,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “Many of the complaints received by the board after a project has gone awry could have been avoided had homeowners taken a few minutes to check the license first, and followed CSLB’s Ten Tips available in English and several other languages.”