In 2019, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HSCO) arrested 118 unlicensed contractors in a sting operation – and of those 118 arrests, 9 of them were repeat offenders.
Our seasoned defense attorney discusses this upcoming statewide prosecution.
Increase in Construction Fraud Crimes
With a hot real estate market, construction fraud-related crimes have been increasing not only across the country but right here in Hillsborough County. In order to combat this problem, the HCSO set up a sting operation coined Operation House Hunters that targeted unlicensed contractors.
In this sting, detectives would meet with unlicensed contractors who were advertising their work on social media through Facebook posts and ads and in classified ads. In 9 months, detectives set up almost 200 appointments, at one of five designated houses, across the county. As a result of those 200 appointments, 118 arrests were made and 9 of the alleged contractors were repeat offenders. A first arrest for unlicensed contracting is considered a misdemeanor, however, upon a second offense – it becomes a felony charge.
If arrested in a sting operation, it is important to speak with a defense attorney right away. Our legal team led by former Prosecutor – now defense attorney, Ben Stechschulte, is available to review your case 24/7. Call our Tampa, FL law firm today.
About the Case
The suspects arrested were attempting to take advantage of homeowners and had allegedly agreed to perform work totaling over $500,000. One licensed contractor agreed to remodel two bathrooms and a kitchen as well as painting and tile installation for under $20,000.
Homeowners can look online at www.myfloridalicense.com to verify a contractor’s license. They can also use the Better Business Bureau as a reference tool, as well as looking online at the Hillsborough County arrest records. Contractors should ensure all of their licensing information is up to date on the State’s website so that consumers can find their credentials.
If your information has changed, or your license inadvertently lapsed, you may be caught up in an investigation. If you find yourself in this situation, you should contact an attorney immediately.
Caught Up in a Sting Operation
If arrested in an investigation, call our defense attorney today. At Stechschulte Nell Law, we believe that a disagreement about workmanship or other mitigating circumstances regarding your license are extremely important should your case go to trial. We are diligent, effective, and efficient when it comes to our representation.