Pinellas County operation leads to 20 arrests of unlicensed contractors

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has started arrested contractors who are scamming customers.

LARGO, Fla. – The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday the results of a widespread operation targeting unlicensed contractors.

"Operation Nailed" resulted in 20 arrests and 58 criminal charges.

"There's a lot that's ongoing," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said. "I'd say that this is the tip of the iceberg."

Gualtieri said the sheriff's office is only two months into its investigation targeting contractors.

Our news partners at the Tampa Bay Times reported Pinellas County sheriff's deputies started pounding on doors at 5 a.m. Tuesday to arrest unlicensed roofers, painters and others for working without licenses and workers compensation insurance.

Each of the 20 suspects arrested face at least one felony charge of workers compensation fraud. State law requires anyone working in the construction industry to carry the insurance. The lack of insurance allows unlicensed violators to lower prices and steal business from those with licenses.

Related: Click here to check contractor license numbers in Florida

Darlene Anderson, 90, of St. Petersburg was one of the victims of an unlicensed contractor.

Anderson said was victimized in June, a few months after her husband passed away at the end of March.

"We really wish that she wasn't a victim at all," Gualtieri said. "We really wish that none of these people were victims.

"We really wish that people would go operate legitimate businesses {and} do the right thing, and there's enough work to be done out there. Just do it the right way."

Watch: Click here to watch Tuesday's news conference in its entirety 

Related: Woman left with shoddy garage job from unlicensed contractors

The sheriff’s office partnered with the Florida Department of Financial Services, Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, Pinellas County Consumer Protection and the State Attorney's Office for the operation.

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