SARASOTA -  Unlicensed contractors are taking advantage of people on the Suncoast. So, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office went undercover to stop them. They arrest 16 alleged unlicensed contractors. They called it, Operation Freelance; it’s their 8th time doing it. Detectives were on the scene in an undisclosed house with surveillance cameras in Sarasota County. Cold calls were made via Craigslist and Facebook to get a hold of these alleged unlicensed contractors. Detective Sergeant Mark Lefebvre, with Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office,  says they put false information out.

"They're not able to do such work as electrical, plumbing or demolitions, such things," Detective Sergeant Mark Lefebvre said. "And knowing that, they still continue to make the bids and offer to take the jobs on and do the work without being contracted."

For some of these individuals, it’s not their first time

"Yet, they still keep walking into our homes and our community offering to take jobs," Detective Sergeant Lefebvre said. "Taking away from legitimate contractors who are doing the work and putting us at risk."

In the end, the operation resulted in 16 felony charges and 32 misdemeanor charges.  

It's illegal when contractors don't have the right paperwork. Alvin with Singleton roofing shares why it's important to have a license.

"They could have an accident on your property, and if that happens," Alvin J. Singleton said. "Well they're unlicensed, they're not insured, they don't have Workman's comp, then the people working with them, that all falls back on that homeowner's insurance."

Detective Sergeant Lefebvre says some contractors work without paperwork because they just need ways to make money or they just don’t have the education for it. But, others are just out to take your money.

"They'll high ball the prices on these contracting works and receive payment and never show up to do the work," Detective Sergeant Lefebvre said.

So make sure to do your homework before you hire contractors. You can call Sarasota County Business and Licensing, Sunbiz, or State Bureau of License and Registration to verify the contractors.