Unlicensed Contractors in Fresno, El Dorado Counties targeted in joint operation

Submitted to the Tribune

SACRAMENTO, Calif. The Contractors State License Board, along with law enforcement partners, recently conducted two undercover sting operations on unlicensed contractors working in Fresno and El Dorado counties.

In late September and early October, CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) worked with the Fresno County District Attorney’s and Sheriff’s offices, El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office, and Placerville Police Department to conduct two sting operations.

Thirteen individuals were served with notices to appear in criminal court for allegedly operating without the required contractor’s license. Now, these individuals are facing potential legal consequences such as major fines and a potential jail sentence.

The bids submitted by the alleged unlicensed individuals surpassed the legal limit of $500 for unlicensed contracting activities; the bids ranged from $1,100 for flooring work up to a hefty $12,000 for fence construction. Without a valid contractor’s license, putting in bids for a construction project valued over $500, including labor and materials, is illegal in California.

Several of the suspects requested excessive upfront payments prior to the commencement of home improvement work. Based on California law, it is unlawful for contractors to request or receive a down payment for home improvement work that exceeds 10% or $1,000 of the contract price, whichever amount is less. Violation of the down payment restriction is a misdemeanor, and the potential penalties may include a fine of up to $5,000, a year in jail, or both.

The suspects could also face further charges for illegal advertisement practices. It is a requirement for all licensed contractors to display their license number on all business-related materials such as ads, commercially registered vehicles, and business cards. Failure to comply with this requirement could bring about a fine of up to $1,000 for first-time offenders.

“Acting as a contractor without a proper contractor’s license is a consumer protection concern and a misdemeanor in California, carrying significant penalties including fines of up to $15,000 and possible jail time,” said David Fogt, CSLB Registrar.

Two contractors submitting bids at the undercover site were issued Stop Orders halting the use of employee labor because they failed to provide workers’ compensation for their employees present at the undercover site. Non-compliance with a stop order can result in misdemeanor charges and penalties, including 60 days in jail and/or up to $10,000 in fines.

For further information or to report suspected unlicensed contractor activities, please visit the CSLB website at or contact CSLB toll-free at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752). For ongoing information and updates from CSLB, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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