Eleven Unlicensed Contractors Referred for Prosecution in Merced Sting

Sacramento, CA  The Contractors State License Board’s (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) conducted an undercover operation in early May to catch unlicensed contractors in Merced. As a result, 11 individuals were referred to the Merced County District Attorney for misdemeanor prosecution for allegedly contracting without a license, while five others received administrative citations.

The bids ranged from $900 to more than $31,000 for various construction projects, including demolition and rebuilding. All bids exceeded the legal threshold of $500, above which a contractor’s license is required. In California, contracting without a license is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $15,000.

The unlicensed contractors apprehended in this operation may face additional charges for advertising construction services without possessing the necessary license. According to California law, it is illegal to advertise construction or home improvement work without a valid license in the advertised classification. If unlicensed individuals advertise contracting services, the advertisement must explicitly state their lack of licensure and the value of work performed (materials and labor) may not exceed $500.

During the operation, some individuals demanded excessive down payments before starting work. Under California law, contractors are limited to requesting no more than 10 percent of the project cost or $1,000, whichever is less. Violating this provision is a misdemeanor, punishable by fines of up to $5,000, a one-year county jail sentence, or both.

“CSLB remains committed to safeguarding consumers from harm associated with unlicensed contractors,” said David Fogt, CSLB Registrar. “We continually strive to educate consumers about the importance of hiring licensed contractors and urge homeowners to verify a contractor’s license before proceeding with any home improvement project.”

For more information, visit CSLB’s website, or connect with us on FacebookX/TwitterInstagram, and YouTube.