Sting Operation Busts 160 Illegal Contractors In Connecticut

According to a statement by the Connecticut Attorney General, 160 unregistered contractors were busted in a sting operation. Neat! From the statement:

When we say that we expect contractors to comply with the law we mean it,” Commissioner Farrell said in announcing the results of the sting operation, which was conducted with cooperation from the Ridgefield, Redding, Stratford, Fairfield, and Trumbull Police Departments, Trumbull building officials, and the Connecticut Department of Transportation. “Any person who wants to perform work in Connecticut must follow the State’s legal requirements associated with the job. This should not come as a surprise to anyone. We intend to pursue appropriate penalties and punishment for these contractors.”

The sting operation used an empty house in Ridgefield, CT to lure unsuspecting contractors. Department of Consumer Protection agents, posing as home owners, invited contractors to bid on various projects at the house. The sting operation concentrated on contractors who had been named in consumer complaints, but also included names collected from newspapers, local building officials police departments and business cards placed with local shop keepers. The vast majority of the contractors caught in the sting were from CT, but 44 were from New York.

Why was the sting important? According to the Farrell, it’s a good way to remind consumers that there is Home Improvement Guaranty Fund in CT that provides up to $15,000 to victimized consumers, but “the money is only available to homeowners who have used a registered contractor. That is why it is so important to verify your contractor’s registration before signing any contract or giving them any money.”

That’s good advice whether you live in CT or not. —MEGHANN MARCO

160 Home Improvement Contractors Caught in Department’s “Operation Spring Sting” (.doc) [CT Department of Consumer Affairs]

Comments

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  1. anatak says:

    Nice! Sounds like the exact same setup that Dateline did in California in conjunction with their local authorities. Its a good model to follow.

  2. bougatsa says:

    Mike Holmes would be very pleased :)

  3. jodles says:

    And Chris Hansen!

  4. mbrutsch says:

    If I were a legal contractor, however, I’d be pretty pissed that I spent time going to a fake job site and working up a bid on a fake job. I’ve never been comfortable with the concept of breaking the law to facilitate catching people who are breaking the law. (Or being dishonest to catch people who are being dishonest.)

  5. Arlahna says:

    Are there other states with simliar laws? My husband and I are considering building a house in a few years and knowing the laws and our rights will come in very handy, I’m sure.

  6. Shadowman615 says:

    So…. how many of them worked for Home Depot?

  7. Wormfather says:

    I live in connecticut, and our Attorney General doesnt mess around. He will nail (pardon the pun) their asses to the wall.

  8. acambras says:

    @Wormfather:

    That is true. Don’t f*** with Blumenthal!

  9. Wormfather says:

    @acambras: He spoke at my highschool graduation years back and I remember thinking damn, he’s meaner than my dad and the principle put together…like some super-vengeful ubergod.

  10. VG10 says:

    oh no, isnt this some type of discrimination? i mean, if illegal workers cant come to this country, get free education, free medical care, and get fee free banking, what are they going to do?!?

  11. @mbrutsch:
    I disagree with this. I would suspect that legal contractors would support such measures. It helps to prevent non-registered scammers from sullying the profession (further) and also helps eliminate competition that may be undercutting the legal bids.

  12. Fuzz says:

    @mbrutsch:

    I would hope they wouldn’t be to bothered. I know I would be happy to know that people pretending to be authorized to work in my field, taking my business, and giving my profession a bad name are being delt with. A minor inconvenience, given the alternatives.

  13. mac-phisto says:

    they do this often in conn. (at least once/year).

    @mbrutsch: understandable, but i think their anger is offset by the relief that they paid the measly fee to become licensed instead of facing stiff fines & jailtime, along with satisfaction that the state is very active in pursuing unlicensed contractors & maintaining integrity within the industry.

    now, if only the state could hire reputable contractors to complete state jobs, we’d be all set.*

    *for those who are unaware, a $220 million i-84 expansion needs to be redone due to contractor shortcuts (they conveniently forgot to put in drainage, but remembered to pay off the inspectors), a new uconn dormitory failed fire inspection when it was built last year after it was discovered that the contractors had not complied with state fire safety standards, our ex-governor is still under house arrest (after a 6-month jail term) for bid-rigging hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts, virtually every city & large town has at least one public official in jail for corruption of some sort & hartford makes washington look like the kiddy pool in terms of corruption.

  14. mac-phisto says:

    @VG10: it’s not focused on illegals, it’s focused on illegal contractors – as in contractors that aren’t licensed/insured.

  15. TechnoDestructo says:

    They might have been pissed about the ruse, but I’d guess most of them are pretty pleased with the results.

  16. E-Bell says:

    @mac-phisto:

    I’d wager that a large percentage of unlicensed contractors are illegals.

    They are in my neck of the woods.

  17. mac-phisto says:

    @E-Bell: not so much up here. lots of illegals work for contractors (some crews operate exclusively with day laborers from central & south america), but most of the contractors are american. generally, these guys aren’t licensed b/c they don’t have insurance (either can’t afford it or don’t want to pay for it).

  18. Wormfather says:

    @mac-phisto:

    You’re forgeting the Sikorski Bridg incident.

    For those of you who dont know you’ll find this interesting.

    About 10 years ago millions were spent on building one of those steel grate bridges (that are the bain of my world), when they finished accidents were happening on the mile long bridge every day.

    Well, low and behold, it turns out the contractors, put the thing on upside-down, yeah you heard me UPSIDE-DOWN.

    Bridge, rebuilt.

  19. Crazytree says:

    using unlicensed contractors is a losing proposition almost every time, in my experience.

    the only upside in CA is that an unlicensed contractor is statutorily precluded for suing for nonpayment of contracting work.

  20. callmereggie says:

    How many were working on the Governor’s vacation home?

  21. shdwsclan says:

    So what….they busted a bunch of mexicans…?