JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office working with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulatins (DBPR), Northeast Florida Builders Association (NEFBA) and Florida's Department of Financial Services arrested 11 unlicensed contractors after an undercover sting operation.
Authorities arrested the unlicensed contractors for soliciting work requiring a state license, according to a news release from Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Melissa Bujeda.
Bujeda said the agencies conducted the sting operation to protect consumers from the dangers of working with unlicensed individuals, saying by hiring an unlicensed contractors, people open themselves up to potential personal or financial harm
The sting operation also protects licensed professionals from unfair competition with unlicensed individuals, Bujeda said.
To uncover the illegal business practice, a JSO detective and a DBPR investigator went undercover. The two would then obtain estimates for jobs requiring a state license. These jobs included plumbing, electrical and other general remodeling services, Bujeda said.
As a result of the undercover work, police arrested 11 men, all charged with unlicensed contracting.
JSO Undersheriff Dwain Senterfitt said, "Our investigators did outstanding work on this sting operation, in partnership with DBPR. We do want to remind everyone that many crimes of opportunity, like property crimes and economic crimes are preventable if citizens exercise caution."
Arrested unlicensed contractors:
- Thomas Vincent Michutka
- Charles L. Klingensmith
- Paul Oldfield
- Wahab Ishola Olaunji
- Nathan Joseph Daniel
- Robert Felton Woods
- William Clay Mcgouey
- Dave Raye Roaldson
- Robert Thomas Geis
- Daniel Josephy Zygmont
- Mark Anthony Dugger
- Charles Eli Davis (arrested on an outstanding warrant for violation or probation while with another unlicensed contractor)
JSO offered the following tips to prevent unlicensed activity:
- Always ask to see the contractor's license
- Note the license number and verify that the license is current and in good standing. To check a license, call 850-487-1395 or visit www.MyFloridaLicense.com.
- Ask for references and check each one.
- Beware of scams when individuals ask for all the money up upfront, will only accept cash, or solicit door-to-door targeting the elderly and uninformed.
- Never pay in cash, especially a large up-front deposit.
- Be cautious of writing checks made payable to individuals, especially when dealing with a company.
- Get everything in writing, including a detailed description of the work to be completed, a completion date and the total cost.
- Do not sign the certificate of completion until you are satisfied with the work done.
First Coast News