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News & Press: News

CSLB Weekly Report - November 18

Wednesday, November 18, 2015  
Posted by: SVABO
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Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT): Two Weeks in Review Periodically, we like to check in on the daily activities of our SWIFT offices. Reports came in last week of the three statewide offices’ compliance sweeps in the counties of Riverside, Los Angeles, Fresno, Santa Clara, Placer, Kern, and Sacramento over the weeks of November 2 and 9, 2015. Partnering agencies for these particular operations included the Department of Labor Standards and Enforcement (DLSE), the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), the Employment Development Department (EDD), and Riverside County District Attorney’s office. Highlights from the two weeks include 19 CSLB legal actions, comprised of 7 non-licensee cites, 6 licensee cites for various violations, and 6 orders to stop work issued for workers compensation violations. The partnering agencies had excellent results over the two weeks; EDD will conduct 8 audits, OSHA found 22 violations, and DLSE issued citations totaling $328,820.29 in fines to employers for labor violations. While these are routine activities for our SWIFT units, they are quite exciting for us, and we look forward to our next check-in with the daily activities of our proactive units.

Unlicensed Duo Uses Elderly Homeowner as an ATM An 87 year old Santa Barbara resident had the misfortune of paying two unlicensed persons $8,000 to install a trenchless “liner pipe” on her property. At some point, the city learned the work had been performed without a permit. Six months later, the pair returned to the home, demanding an additional $1,869.00 in “permit fees.” The homeowner paid in full, feeling obligated after the pair “blamed” her for alerting the city to the permit problem. Just over a week later, one of the suspects again appeared at the home, demanding another $776.00 for “late charges” from the city, which the homeowner again paid. A licensed plumber would later evaluate the work and confirm that the suspects had not performed any the work expected from the $8,000.00 contract. The Valencia Investigation Center got the case, and additionally confirmed that none of the homeowner’s later payments were used for permits or “late fees.” In total, the pair extracted $10,645.00 from the homeowner without delivering any labor or materials. There was also evidence of elder abuse from their apparent decision that this homeowner would simply provide money upon their request. The investigation will be referred criminally for violations to include grand theft, diversion of funds, theft from an elder/dependent adult, and unlicensed contracting and advertising. We will update you when criminal charges are filed.

SWIFT Enforcement Representative (ER) Runs Around Small Town to Get His Answers, and His Man On November 12, 2015, two SWIFT Enforcement Representatives (ER) traveled to Calaveras County, to follow-up on a lead to unlicensed activity at a residence in Murphys, California.  As they arrived, seven workers were leaving, apparently on the way to lunch.  The investigators parked and waited for three hours but were forced to return to headquarters without engaging the workers. The next day, SWIFT was alerted by another tip that site was again active. One of the ERs returned alone (the other was reporting to another lead). The ER observed all workers on site, and in an undercover capacity, identified the individual in charge and obtained a business card from the suspect. The suspect claimed to be an employee of the business on the card, which had a CSLB license number on it. The license number was registered at a Southern California address, but the business address of record was down the street. The ER reported to the local address, to find a restaurant. After speaking to a hostess, and making a series of phone calls, the ER concluded that the business card was fake, that the number on the card belonged to a legitimate licensee in another county, and that the individual on site was not the licensee’s employee. The ER returned to the site, identified himself, and obtained an admission from the suspect that the license was being used without permission, that all individuals worked for the suspect, and that he had no workers compensation policy. The suspect was an unlicensed contractor who received an administrative citation from SWIFT in July 2015. The case will therefore be referred to the Calaveras County District Attorney’s Office for contracting and advertising without a license, fraudulent use of a license number, and failure to provide workers compensation for six employees.

The average Call Center wait time for the week of November 9, 2015 – November 13, 2015 was 2:31.  Most transactions are under four weeks.

Last week, three Senior Scam StopperSM seminars were held:  November 10 in Temescal Valley with Senator Jeff Stone  and Riverside Co. Supervisor Kevin Jeffries—29 in attendance; November 12 in Malibu with Assembly Member Richard Bloom—25 in attendance; and November 13 in Oxnard with Assembly Member Jacqui Irwin—55 in attendance.  This week, a seminar is scheduled on November 18 in Los Angeles with Assembly Member Jimmy Gomez.