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Union City Sting Operation Snares Illegal Contractors

UNION CITY (KCBS) - Nearly 100 unlicensed contractors were arrested in Union City and other parts of California this week by undercover investigators posing as homeowners shopping around for home improvements.

Investigators scoured Craigslist, jotted down numbers on flyers and set their traps at residential homes that needed painting, landscaping, or flooring. They invited the would-be contractors to homes, such as one under construction in Union City, and asked for an estimate on the work.

"If their bid's more than $500, then at that point they're placed under arrest if they don't have a license," said Rick Lopes with the Contractors State License Board.

KCBS' Janice Wright Reports:

California law requires any work that totals more than $500 in materials and labor to be done by a licensed contractor who discloses their license number in all advertising. There are also limits on how much payment the contractor can ask for up front.

Even savvy homeowners can be fooled. Diane Stone of Oakland lost $4,700 when she hired an unlicensed painter who just wasn't doing the job. Her ex-husband was a painting contractor.

"I know the business, but I just didn't bother to check the credentials," she said.

92 people were arrested in eight sting operations over the course of two days. In some cases, the suspects were people reported to the board by legitimate contractors who filed complaints against them.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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