COOPER CITY (CBS4) – With guns drawn, wearing bullet proof vest, BSO deputies swooped in on suspected unlicensed contractors.
“Sheriff’s department! Down, down!” they yelled.
During the two day sting, more than two dozen people were arrested. In the operation, deputies posed as Cooper City couple looking to hire contractors to fix up a foreclosed home.
“Right now you’re under arrest for contractor fraud,” a deputy told one of the suspects as he had him face down on the ground.
At one point – 4 people were in the house at the same time, bidding on jobs.
One man who installs awnings spoke to CBS 4’s Ted Scouten. He admits he is unlicensed – but is working on it.
“I had a license,” said Tony Waddle of Solarus USA. “I went to apply for another license, I paid 250 dollars and then they wanted 14 hundred dollars for the books to study and the economy got bad and I couldn’t afford the books.”
Others insist they’re legit. Like Juan Martinez.
“Do you have the ‘certificate of competency’ asked CBS 4’s Ted Scouten.
“I don’t know what that is,” said Martinez.
“Are you licensed by the county or the state to go out and do the work that you do?” Scouten asked.
“Yes,” said Martinez.
“What kind of license is it?” Scouten asked.
“it’s a general carpentry workshop,” said Martinez. Detectives did not know what that was.
BSO Fraud Detective Danny Beleyey explains that a ‘certificate of competency card’ is the single most important piece of paper you need to find out if your contractor is legit.
“Anyone that is licensed to perform contracting services in the county or in the state will have one of these cards for the specific county they work in or one from the state,” explained Beleyeu.
Another sign of trouble: the contractor has to be licensed to pull a permit. If he suggests doing work without it, there could be a problem.
Click Here to check out a contractor in Miami-Dade County.
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Click Here for Monroe County.
Click Here for the Florida state database.