ORANGE, Calif. (KTLA) — A registered sex offender is among those arrested in a major crackdown against unlicensed general contractors.
A sting operation by the Contractors State Licensing Board netted nearly 80 people in 6 different cities, including 3 in Southern California.
Officials say people are putting their house and family at risk by trying to save some cash on home repairs.
“We had not only convicted sex offenders, we had someone convicted of human trafficking and someone who showed up to the sting with a child,” said Rick Lopes of the Contractors State Licensing Board.
In the past two days investigators posing as homeowners invited suspected unlicensed operators to bid on work such as drywall, flooring and fencing.
“Many don’t realize someone has to be licensed to do a job that’s $500 or more in California, that’s including labor & materials,” Lopes told KTLA.
Officials say many skirt the law and don’t go for the license because they have a criminal past.
They prey on people by offering to do house work at bargain prices.
Lopes said unlicensed contractors can charge less because they use inferior products, skirt the laws and they’re not covering workers with workman’s comp.
Homeowners left with no recourse for shoddy work are putting their home, finances and family in danger.
The reason to hire a licensed contractor is there are a number of protectors in place, according to Lopes.
Licensed contractors have to undergo a background check and take exams to show they are minimally competent to do the work.
Officials advise homeowners to verify a contractor’s license number, don’t pay more than 10% down or $1,000, check references, confirm they have workman’s comp insurance and always get bid in writing.
Those arrested face a misdemeanor charge for contracting without a license.
They face 6 months in jail and/or a $5000 fine.
-Jennifer Gould reporting