Written by The Business Journal Staff
The Contractors State License Board earlier this year hosted a two-day sting in Fresno, on the hunt for unlicensed contractors bidding on work.
The Feb. 16-17 sting, at a home near Lake Van Ness in northwest Fresno, involved inviting suspected unlicensed contractors to bid on home improvement projects including interior painting, concrete, tree removal and building a new fence and gate.
Thirteen suspects were caught contracting illegally when they placed bids above the legal amount of $500. Any construction work that costs $500 or more in labor and/or materials must be performed by someone with a CSLB-issued license. The highest bid was $14,000.
Contracting without a license is a misdemeanor in California. The penalty for a first-time offense is up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines.
One of the suspects who placed a bid for concrete showed his brother-in-law’s pocket card as proof of licensure, which is considered by law to be fraudulently using a contractor’s license. Four suspects were also issued a citation for not having workers’ compensation insurance. One of these suspects brought a worker to the home that investigators discovered had three outstanding arrest warrants and was in possession of a meth pipe, according to the CSLB.
“It’s our job to not only protect consumers from potentially getting ripped off, but to try and ensure their safety as they let strangers into their homes” said CSLB Registrar Dave Fogt. “Consumers need to spend a few minutes on CSLB’s website to make sure the contractor they want to hire is properly licensed and has all the appropriate insurance and other consumer protections in place.”
The suspects are scheduled to appear on Oct. 10-11 at 8:30 a.m. in Fresno County Superior Court.