Ten unlicensed contractors who were illegally bidding on home-repair work in areas affected by the recent Cocos Fire were arrested on June 4 in a sting operation initiated by the Contractors State License Board.
Fraud investigators in San Marcos, posing as homeowners, requested bids on work, ranging from painting and driveway-paver installation to replacement of a gazebo destroyed by the fire.
None of the individuals responding to the sting ads were found to be specifically targeting fire victims, which would have added a felony charge for contracting without a license in a disaster area. Seven of the ten will, however, face an additional charge of illegal advertising, as unlicensed contractors and handymen are required to disclose their non-licensed status in all ads and refrain from bidding on jobs with a value greater than $500.
The highest-value offender caught is San Diegan David Hargrove, who, in addition to providing an unlicensed bid of $6000 to replace the fire-damaged gazebo, was found to be in possession of a bag of prescription narcotics that were not prescribed to him at the time of his arrest. He's also accused of taking $21,000 from an active-duty Navy sailor for a home addition and remodel job, which he abandoned before completing although he'd been paid.
Hargrove is in jail awaiting arraignment; others caught in the sting are scheduled to appear in North County courtrooms in mid-August.