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'Sweetheart Swindler' Caught In Undercover Sting Targeting Unlicensed Contractors

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- An undercover sting to catch unlicensed contractors netted an unlikely suspect this week. State investigators rounded up nearly a hundred suspects in the operation, including a woman known as the "Sweetheart Swindler."

Investigators said that Samantha Pham met men online, then took their money. She was previously jailed for swindling an elderly man in Campbell out of a Lexus, $200,000 cash as well as his home.

The state says Pham was illegally operating Bella's Kitchen & Bath without a contractor license. In the sting operation, representatives of the state Contractors Board invited her to bid on a job -- and she was then arrested on felony charges.

Agents for the Contractors Board arrested a total of 97 people in the statewide sting on crimes ranging from illegal advertising to requesting excessive down payments.

According to regulations, down payments may not exceed 10% or $1,000 -- whichever is less. State law requires contractors to be licensed for any job over $500.

To find out if a contractor you've hired is properly licensed go to the state contractors board website

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