Authorities in California announced on Oct. 19 that 15 individuals were taken into custody following sting operations in several counties. The individuals are alleged to have solicited contracting jobs without a state-issued license. Under California law, contractors performing work valued at $500 or more must be licensed. The arrests were part of a statewide crackdown on unlicensed contracting. The individuals face fines of between $700 and $5,000 and could be sentenced to up to six months in jail.
The sting operations took place in Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, Mendocino, Fresno, Sonoma and Solano counties. Authorities say that they identified the individuals from advertisements in the Yellow Pages and local newspapers as well as postings on websites such as Angie’s List and Craigslist. The jobs that the individuals bid on are said to have amounted to approximately $360,000. They are facing charges including illegal advertising and misdemeanor contracting without a license. Some of the individuals were found to have existing warrants, but most of them were released after being cited.
The sting operations come at a time when many California residents are considering hiring a contractor to prepare for heavy rains anticipated in connection with the upcoming El Nino weather event. A representative of the Contractors State License Board urged homeowners to check that those seeking contracting work possess a CSLB license. The CSLB website contains a searchable database of licensed contractors.
Those who commit business fraud may face civil as well as criminal sanctions. Attorneys with experience in this area could file litigation stemming from fraudulent or negligent misrepresentation, embezzlement and asset misappropriation. Attorneys may seek to settle such cases to avoid the costs of a trial, but they could advocate vigorously on behalf of their clients in court when these efforts are unsuccessful.