Unlicensed Contractors Sting

March 12, 2009 6:37:52 PM PDT
A statewide undercover sting ended with the arrest of more than 100 people, including two in Tulare County. Authorities are targeting contractors who are attempting to do home repair and improvement projects without a license.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Check your contractor's license to see if it's valid or if there have been complaints against him/her. www.cslb.ca.gov OR 1-800-321-CSLB (2752)
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Undercover investigators with the Contractors State License Board arrested two people and cited 17 others for working without a license. State officials say these contractors can take your money and run. Some are even convicted felons.

In undercover video provided by the Contractors State License Board, you can see investigators getting estimates from unlicensed contractors. Whether it's fixing a roof or landscaping a house ? if the contractor gave a price that was over $500 and they didn't have a license, they were contracting illegally.

Twenty people were picked through mostly online advertisements who offered to do the work cheap.

Heather Francis, an investigator with the Contractors State License Board, says "I think homeowners are hiring the unlicensed guys more now because of the economy and they're trying to get the best deal they can. But really they're putting themselves in danger."

Seventeen people were cited in the sting. Two people were even arrested for outstanding felony warrants. Authorities say consumers need to pay attention to red flags.

Rick Lopes, Contractors State License Board, says "Some of the warning signs-- if you don't see a license number. Most contractors, unless they've been in business for years an years, have to have a license. It's a 6-digit license number."

One man who was cited during the sting actually had a contractor's license at one time, but it was suspended after Dianne Honomichl says he botched her bathroom addition.

Dianne Honomichl says "The shower pan hadn't been floated properly so all the water would have leaked and run back into the walls."

Honomichl said her first mistake was paying for half the project up front - $8,000. After she realized the unfinished project was ruined she tried to get a hold of the contractor but he disappeared. Building the bathroom ultimately cost her $19,000.

Honomichl says "He was very clean cut, very smooth-talking man. He had a beautiful showroom that he took us into and promised us he was going to make a beautiful bathroom for us and we believed him."

Just like in Dianne Honomichl's case, investigators say you can never be too careful. They suggest getting referrals from trusted people.

Check your contractor's license to see if it's valid or if there have been complaints against him/her. www.cslb.ca.gov OR 1-800-321-CSLB (2752)

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