Sting Operation Nets a Dozen Arrests of Unlicensed Contractors

The sting took place at a commercial property in Belmont, and was carried out by the Statewide Investigative Fraud Team, who posed as property owners.

Patch file photo by Renee Schiavone.
Patch file photo by Renee Schiavone.
By Bay City News Service:

An undercover sting operation resulted in the arrest of 12 illegal contracting suspects in San Mateo County on Thursday, according to a statewide agency that oversees licensed contractors. 

The sting took place at a commercial property in Belmont, and was carried out by the Statewide Investigative Fraud Team, who posed as property owners. 

SWIFT members asked suspects to bid on painting, drywall and flooring projects ranging from $1,000 to $14,000, according to Rick Lopes, a spokesman for the California Contractors State License Board. 

In California, all home improvement jobs valued at $500 or more must be conducted by a company or person with a CSLB-issued license, Lopes said. 

All 12 suspects were cited for contracting without a license, and one, an East Palo Alto man, was also cited by CSLB on an unrelated $5,000 warrant for driving with a suspended license. 

In addition, 10 of the 12 suspects were cited on a misdemeanor charge of illegal advertising. Lopes said seven suspects were contacted through ads on craigslist.org, while five were called from business cards and newspaper ads. 

The 12 suspects are Dardo Osmar Romano and Dino Joseph Landucci III, both of San Mateo; Edwin Francisco Zavala Valdivia of Sunnyvale; Hugo De Leon-Garcia of Hayward; Rafael Vicente Andrade Villalta, Concepcion Flores and Rossemberg Emmanuelle Hernandez, all of Redwood City; Loni Taaniela Maama and Filino Sokai Masifilo, both of East Palo Alto; Louie Graciano Ortiz of San Jose; Mario Ramirez Reynoso of South San Francisco; and Daniel Aaron Dayton of San Francisco. 

The suspects are scheduled to appear in San Mateo Superior Court on July 15 to answer to illegal contracting charges. 

CSLB officials encourage consumers to verify that a potential contractor is licensed before hiring them. 

"Don't rush your spring clean-up, only to ruin your summer fixing someone's bad work. Check the contractor license. Get three bids," CSLB registrar Steve Sands said in a statement. 

robert c June 02, 2014 at 04:22 PM
An illegal contractor just took an elderly couple for over 500k and they lost their home. Another hired an unlicensed contractor and paid him in full and when they flushed their toilets it flooded their yard. There are gypsy scams and none licensed contractors scamming people every day. Easy to say go get the really bad guys so maybe we should just let these "hard working" people go and forget those victims. I bet the same who complain that these are just hard working people who should be left alone, are the same who hire the illegal "hard working" immigrants from home deport parking lot. I am sure the complainers know about the crime surrounding those people in the home depot parking lot. amazing the naivety of those who turn their cheek to save a few bucks.
Lorraine Terpening June 04, 2014 at 02:44 PM
You said it Robert. I think these folks have never been ripped off, yet. They'll change their tune once they've been burned. Lots of money out and no recourse to sue for damages or lost money. And remember folks, the contractor is not allowed to collect more than 10% of the total job from you with the balance due upon completion. And YOU write on the contract "Time is of the essence" or you may not get the job done in a reasonable amount of time (or ever).
Lorraine Terpening June 04, 2014 at 02:47 PM
Yikes, I almost forget. Before you sign anything, check out the contractors license. Some use revoked or stolen numbers. Go online to check!
Charles June 05, 2014 at 11:37 AM
If I get ripped off, then it's my problem. I can go to civil court. However, I would hope that I vetted the person or company. Are there any Adults here or do you need the government to be mommy and daddy. BTW: It because of this need to be government approved that we have illegal worker problems. As recently as the 1980s I was happy making $15 a day. I was a teenager and to me that was $75 a week. Saved money, purchased a truck and did odds jobs for more money. All without a license from the state. All of this before graduating high school and going off to college.
Average American June 05, 2014 at 11:47 AM
If you want to hire a licenced contractor why are you looking for one on Craigslist? Because you want to save money, that's why! And 10 percent will not cover even materials on most jobs. On craigslist customers I usually do a quick Google on their name or business. I have been ripped off mostly by the people who want me to purchase their materials out of pocket. The point I am trying to get across here is that craigslist customers can be shady also.


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