A multi-agency sting operation was recently concluded.  Six individuals have been arrested as a result of a sting aimed at cracking down on unlicensed contractors. The suspects in the sting operation were found through online ads. Investigators sought bids for general home renovations, including kitchen and bath remodeling, flooring and drywall repairs.

The purpose of the operation was to protect consumers from the dangers of hiring an unlicensed individual, which could result in financial harm, safety concerns and damage to consumers’ homes. The individuals were arrested and charged with six misdemeanor counts of unlicensed contracting and six felony counts of failure to secure workers compensation insurance.

The sting operation was a joint investigation between Pinellas County Consumer Protection, the Sixth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office and the Florida Department of Financial Services Insurance Fraud Unit.

Pinellas County Consumer Protection urges consumers to follow these tips before hiring anyone to work on their property:

  • Only hire licensed contractors and ask to see their license. Verify the license at www.myfloridalicense.com.
  • Check the complaint history of a business at www.pinellascounty.org/consumer.
  • Don’t pay more than 10 percent as a down payment.
  • Obtain at least three bids, check references and get a written contract.
  • Be suspicious of individuals who ask for payment in full up front, solicit door-to-door, or ask to be paid in cash only.

Pinellas County Consumer Protection provides assistance in the resolution of consumer-business disputes, investigates allegations of criminal violations, educates and informs the consumer and business communities regarding existing consumer protection laws and enforces the charitable solicitations, bingo, fortunetelling and adult use ordinances. For more information, visit www.pinellascounty.org/consumer.