TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE/KSEE) – Unlicensed contractors are facing a suspicion of multiple charges as they are being found unlicensed in the work field in Tulare County according to state board officials on Wednesday.

The Contractors State License Board, the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, and the California Department of Insurance recently carried out a series of undercover sting operations. The primary objective of these operations was to clamp down on unlicensed contractors operating within Tulare County.

According to State Board officials, the stings took place in September and resulted in 14 individuals receiving a Notice to Appear in criminal court for allegedly operating without the required contractor’s license.

Each suspected unlicensed person provided bids that exceeded the legal limit of $500 for unlicensed contracting practices, with estimates ranging from $1,200 for a flooring job up to $13,000 for concrete work. California law states it is illegal to bid on or undertake a construction project valued over $500, including labor and materials without an appropriate license.

State officials say the concrete bid also included a down payment request of $5,000, well above the legal limit, and other suspects requested excessive down payments before work began. According to California law, contractors should only request a maximum of 10% of the home improvement project’s total cost or $1,000, whichever amount is less. Violation of this condition is stated to be a misdemeanor, and penalties may include fines up to $5,000 or one year in jail, or both.

Police say suspects may face additional charges due to unlawful advertisement practices. All unlicensed contractors are required to display their license number on all materials related to their business, such as advertisements, vehicles, and business cards. Police add that non-compliance with this requirement could result in a first-time offense fine of up to $1,000.

“Performing contractor services without a valid contractor’s license is considered a misdemeanor in California and provides for substantial penalties, including fines as high as $15,000 and possible jail time,” said David Fogt, the Contractors State License Board Registrar.

State Board officials have now issued four stop-work orders during the operation, halting work at job sites where contractors failed to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees.

For further information or to report suspected unlicensed contractor activities, please visit the Contractors State License Board website.