Arrest made in scam targeting CSLB applicants, licensees

Second suspect added to CSLB’s most wanted list
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The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is announcing that one arrest has been made and another is pending after a comprehensive investigation into a scam that targeted both licensed contractors and those attempting to become licensed.

     Luis Manuel Flores, 50, was arrested in February while crossing the border into the United States and remains jailed at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in Sacramento County. Flores is charged with one count of Conspiracy to Cheat/Defraud another person of property (Penal Code section 182(a)(4)).

     An arrest warrant has been issued for a second suspect, Maico Merdinand Dimla, 41, who is believed to be in the Tijuana, Mexico, area. Dimla has been added to CSLB’s Most Wanted list.

     The multi-faceted investigation began last summer after a number of license applicants told investigators that they were conned by people falsely representing themselves as CSLB employees. Applicants were told they needed testing study guides, while licensees seeking an additional classification were told they needed continuing education credits or licensing exams, and needed to pay with a credit card over the telephone.

     Investigators believe Flores and Dimla created a fraudulent business and website with names similar to CSLB. While in the Tijuana area, it is believed that the two contacted CSLB applicants and licensees with phone numbers that appeared to victims as originating from the 916 area code (Sacramento area). At least 50 people have been defrauded, in amounts ranging from $98 to $250 each. The number of victims could increase once people realize they’ve been conned.

     “Our efforts to protect consumers go beyond those who hire contractors,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “We take very seriously any attempt to con or take advantage of our licensees or those who apply for a contractor license.”

     CSLB issued an industry bulletin and a prominent alert on the CSLB website to warn contractors and applicants about people claiming to be from CSLB and asking for credit card information over the phone. They also were reminded that CSLB fees only are payable through the mail or at CSLB Headquarters in Sacramento. The warnings dramatically cut the number of people being victimized.

     Anyone with information on Maico Merdinand Dimla’s whereabouts should contact their local law enforcement agency.

     The Contractors State License Board licenses and regulates California's 300,000 contractors, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. It operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs.  In fiscal year 2011-12, CSLB helped recover nearly $36 million in ordered restitution for consumers. More information and publications about hiring contractors are available on CSLB’s website or by calling (800) 321-CSLB (2752). You also can sign up for CSLB email alerts