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Sting operation to catch unlicensed contractors leads to 3 facing felony charges

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Sting operation in 2020 in Paradise

This picture comes from file video of a sting operation in 2020 in Paradise. (Courtesy of Contractors State License Board)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Three people are facing felony charges of contracting without a license in a disaster area after a sting operation in Butte County, according to the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). 

The CSLB, the Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) and the Butte County District Attorney’s Office recently conducted an undercover sting operation that caught seven people, including the three suspects facing felony charges, targeting Camp Fire survivors. 

One suspect, who was not identified, is facing a felony charge for a bid of $4,020, a downpayment of $1,500 and advertising without a license, according to the CSLB. This person may face charges of illegal advertising and requiring an excessive down payment. 

The CSLB said it is illegal for contractors to ask for more than 10% down or $1,000 for home improvement projects. 

Bids that were received during the operation ranged from $2,200 for tree removal to $12,700 to install concrete. 

The penalty increases from a misdemeanor to a felony charge in disaster areas. If guilty, the penalty is up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

CSLB said it will remain alert to unlicensed contractors as people continue to rebuild in Paradise and Butte County following the Camp Fire.

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