Undercover stings nab 76 illegal contractors in California

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Undercover sting operations by the California Contractors State Licensing Board caught 73 people statewide who now face criminal charges for failing to have a valid contractor's license.

A total of 12 operations took place last week across the state, including Los Angeles and Moreno Valley. According to the CSLB investigation, 14 face charges in L.A. and 15 in Moreno Valley.

A press conference was held Monday by the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, who wanted to get the word out about bad contractors ahead of El Nino, since more and more homeowners will likely be turning to contractors to shore up leaky roofs or have drainage work done on their properties.

In California, contractors must show proof that they are registered with the CSLB and adhere to its governing laws. For instance, a license is required for any home improvement valued at $500 or more in labor and materials.

During the sting operations, officials used tips and previous complaints to target fraudulent contractors. Rick Lopes with CSLB said investigators found some culprits on various classified advertisements, Craigslist, Angie's List and even by posted business cards at local stores.

Mary Whisner, a victim of an unlicensed contractor, spoke at the Monday news conference and said she is still dealing with the fallout from hiring an illegal contractor four years ago.

"It's the worst thing I ever did. I just ask you, take a good look, make a call," Whisner said.

Homeowners can avoid being victimized by doing their homework. You can go to the CSLB website and look up the six or seven-digit number every state contractor must have in order to do any work on your home. That number is supposed to be printed on any advertisement or card.

Also, if you do meet with a contractor, ask to see their pocket license and compare it to their driver's license to make sure the identities match.

Get more information by visiting www.cslb.ca.gov.
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