With people still recovering and seeking repairs to properties damaged by Hurricane Irma, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office launched its second recent sting operation targeting unlicensed contractors looking to cash in on the work.
Volusia County sheriff’s detectives in cooperation with the State Attorney’s Office, Daytona Beach Police Department, and state insurance and fraud regulators, conducted a two-day undercover operation, which culminated Friday, zeroing in on unlicensed contractors in Deltona and Daytona Beach.
The sting, dubbed “Operation Hurri-Con,” was designed to catch those who prey on victims of hurricane damage by advertising or offering services such as A/C, electrical or roofing jobs - all work that requires licensed contractors.
Investigators say they developed a list of unlicensed contractors on both sides of Volusia County, and set up meeting places in Daytona Beach and Deltona.
In several cases, officials say the contractors had advertised on Craigslist.
According to a news release, detectives had called the suspect contractors at their business and requested an appointment for the contractor to visit an address to provide an estimate for roof repair.
In each case, deputies say representations from the state Department of Business Professional Regulation confirmed that the contractor was unlicensed.
Officials say once the unlicensed contractor provided an estimate for the job and left the business, deputies made traffic stops and arrested the contractor, transporting them to the Volusia County Branch Jail.
Each was charged with engaging in contracting business without certification, and failure to secure workers' compensation insurance coverage, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The alleged crimes were committed during the state of emergency declared by Gov. Rick Scott, making the charge of operating without a license a felony, deputies say.
Detectives say they determined that each suspect “knowingly and unlawfully engaged in the business or acted in the capacity of a contractor . . . without being duly registered or certified,” the affidavits state.
If found guilty, the defendants face up to five years in prison.