An apartment complex, one mile from the Santa Monica Pier, served as the backdrop for an undercover sting operation run by the Contractors State License Board's fraud team that netted eight fraud suspects from the Los Angeles area, the agency announced Friday.
The operation was conducted Thursday by the board's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team, which issued eight notices to appear in court to answer a variety of misdemeanor charges. Seven of the eight suspects gave bids for painting, according to the board.
The board conducted the sting in partnership with the Santa Monica Police Department, Santa Monica Code Enforcement Department, Santa Monica City Attorney's Office and Department of Consumer Affairs' Division of Investigation.
Seven illegal operators were cited for contracting without a license. All home improvement jobs valued at $500 or more -- combined labor and material costs -- must be conducted by a company or person with a board-issued contractor's license.
Three of the eight individuals were also cited for violating contractor advertising laws, which require the contractor license number to be included in all forms of advertising.
A total of six suspects received additional notices to appear for not having a Santa Monica city business license. Six of the eight suspects were identified based on ads posted on craigslist.org.
"In these difficult economic times, it's more important than ever for consumers to be careful when hiring someone to work in or around their home," board Registrar Steve Sands said.
"Many consumers don't realize that if something goes wrong or mistakes are made, they can be 100 percent liable."
The contractors headed to court are:
-- Chai Catalan of Northridge;
-- Jose Carlos Leon of South Gate;
-- Freddy Leon of South Gate;
-- Omar Isaac Zamorano of El Segundo;
-- Qing Quan Xie of San Gabriel;
-- Christopher Rodney Griffiths of Valley Village;
-- Ramin Polgido of Woodland Hills and
-- Rosendo Najera of Los Angeles.
The eight suspects are scheduled to appear Dec. 9 in Los Angeles Superior Court, West District, 11701 S. La Cienega Blvd., Dept. #147, Los Angeles.
--City News Service