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The board used two websites, Thumbtack.com and Craigslist.org to target suspects. Ads were placed inviting contractors to bid on home improvement projects at a single-family home near Lodi Lake. The property was provided by a licensed contractor who was upset about losing business to unlicensed workers on Thumbtack.com.
Investigators with CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team posed as home owners as suspects placed bids ranging from $1,500 for exterior painting and $10,000 for replacing a 150-foot wooden fence. Two of the Thumbtack.com suspects drove to the sting house from the Bay Area; another from rural El Dorado County.
The following local contractors were cited:
A state contractor’s license is required for any bid that is $500 or more in combined labor and material costs for the entire project.
Penalties for first-time unlicensed contracting convictions include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. A second conviction carries a mandatory 90-day jail sentence. The penalty for illegal advertising is a fine of up to $1,000.
“You will find a combination of licensed and unlicensed workers advertising online and it can be difficult to tell them apart,” said CSLB Registrar Cindi Christenson. “That’s why it is important that consumers do their part by looking for a contractor’s license number in an ad, and verifying it with CSLB before hiring them.”
Consumers can check on contractors on the Contractors State License Board’s website.
Each suspect is scheduled to appear on March 28 and 29 in San Joaquin County Superior Court.