'Operation Nailed' targets unlicensed contractors in Pinellas County

By Melissa Eichman, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 6:08 PM EDT

Eleven unlicensed contractors accused of scamming Pinellas County residents were taken into custody Tuesday. 

  • "Operation Nailed" targets unlicensed contractors in Pinellas County
  • 11 arrested and charged Tuesday morning
  • New effort an attempt to crack down on unlicensed contractors scamming the public

According to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, deputies began rounding up the contractors at 5 a.m. during "Operation Nailed." 

The men, roofers, painters and construction workers are accused of scamming residents out of thousands of dollars in the past few months. 

The roundup was a collaborative operation between the Sheriff's Office, Florida Department of Financial Services, Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, Pinellas County Consumer Protection and the State Attorney's Office, targeting unlicensed contractors in Pinellas County.

Until two months ago, unlicensed contractors normally received simple fines. But in an effort to crack down on members of the public being taken advantage of, arrest warrants are now being issued. 

"The usual pitches they were doing work in the neighborhood. I've seen their trucks around...I could use them too," said 90-year-old Darlene Anderson, who was victimized. "My only complaint was being cheated out of money."

In Florida, doing contractor work without a license is a misdemeanor for the first offense. After that, it is a felony. Gualtieri said the pilot program targeting unlicensed contractors still has four months to go. So far, detectives are working as many as 220 cases.

"By the arrests today what we hope to convey is thats a new day," Gualtieri said. "(A) new era to prevent predatory practices in Pinellas County."

Pinellas County and the Federal Trade Commission have set up a web site with useful information regarding safely hiring a contractor. Visit the page at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0242-hiring-contractor.