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135 unlicensed contractors busted in Calif. sting

March 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A total of 135 suspected unlicensed contractors were arrested during the Contractors State License Board's spring "California Blitz."

The statewide undercover operation was conducted in 10 cities on March 8 to 10. The stings were conducted in counties throughout the state, including Orange County.

During the blitz, investigators posed as homeowners or landlords, asking for bids on projects for their home. Those who bid more than the legal limit of $500 for labor and materials received a notice to appear in Superior Court for a misdemeanor charge of contracting without a license.

Other charges included illegal advertising and soliciting excessive down payments. State law requires contractors to include their license number on all forms of advertising. Also, it is illegal to ask for a down payment greater than 10 percent of the contract price or $1,000, whichever is less. There are exceptions as noted on CSLB's website.

CSLB said that because phony contractors don't carry workers' compensation insurance, the homeowner could be liable if a worker is hurt on the job. Also, if something goes wrong or the project is abandoned, homeowners have few options for getting back their money.

The goal of CSLB's twice-yearly blitz is to educate consumers about the dangers of hiring phony contractors, and to encourage people who qualify to get their contractor license.