15 Feel the Sting from CSLB for Illegal Contracting in Concord
One suspect’s charges increase after attempt to alert others about the undercover operation
SACRAMENTO — One illegal contractor may have thought he was doing others a favor by trying to warn them away from a Contractors State License Board (CSLB) undercover sting operation in Concord, but his actions only added to the criminal charges against him. He was among 15 individuals arrested for contracting without a required state contractor license and other misdemeanor charges during the July 24-25, 2013, activity.
CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) conducted the sting at a residential house with the assistance of the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office. Investigators sought bids for painting, concrete, fencing, landscaping, HVAC, and tree work from suspects who were contacted through business cards, ads in online bulletin boards, including craigslist.org, and complaints filed with CSLB.
Moises Galban Zamora, of Oakland, defied instructions to avoid telling others about the sting after he had been arrested on two illegal contracting charges. Failure to follow those instructions earned him an additional citation for resisting a peace officer and driving without a license; his vehicle was impounded.
“Unlicensed contractors put homeowners in jeopardy,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “If a contractor isn’t properly licensed and insured, the homeowner could pay more than expected to get the job done right or could be liable for accidental onsite injuries. It only takes a few seconds to check a contractor license on CSLB’s website for peace of mind,” Sands said.
Fourteen of the suspects face misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license (Business and Professions Code section 7028). Ten were cited for illegal advertising (Business and Professions Code section 7027.1). State law requires that contractors include their license number in all forms of advertising, including online ads. Those without a license can advertise as long as the ad states that they are not a state-licensed contractor, and the combined total of a project’s labor and material costs is under $500.
Two individuals were cited for requesting an excessive down payment (Business and Professions Code section 7159.5 (a)(3)(b)). The legal down payment limit is 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less. Also, one citation was issued for failure to have the required CSLB Home Improvement Salesperson registration (Business and Professions Code section 7153). It is a misdemeanor for any home improvement company salesperson in California to write contracts for their employer without being CSLB-registered.
CSLB conducts sting operations throughout the state each week to protect consumers, help level the playing field for legitimate contractors, and to curb the underground economy.
Visit CSLB’s website for tips about how to hire a contractor.
The Contractors State License Board licenses and regulates about 300,000 contractors in California, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. It operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. In fiscal year 2012-13, CSLB helped recover nearly $44 million in ordered restitution for consumers. More information and publications about hiring contractors are available on CSLB’s website or by calling (800) 321-CSLB (2752). You also can sign up for CSLB email alerts.
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