Home Contra Costa County Unlicensed Contractor Faces 38 Charges in Defrauding Scheme

Unlicensed Contractor Faces 38 Charges in Defrauding Scheme

Press Release

by ECT
District Attorney

Martinez, Calif. – The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office has filed felony and misdemeanor charges against an unlicensed contractor for defrauding multiple victims in Contra Costa County.

41-year-old Modesto resident Adan Contreras Rivas is currently being held on $600,000 bail in the Martinez Detention Facility on 38 charges for financial elder abuse, theft by false pretense, theft with specified priors, and violations related to his fraudulent contracting practices.

Since June 2022, Rivas has been under investigation since his initial offenses were reported by a victim in Walnut Creek. When authorities arrested Rivas in Morgan Hill on November 8th, he was operating under the name “Gutierrez Tree Services”— though he has used various business names like “New View Tree Care.” Rivas is alleged to have posed as a licensed contractor in the landscaping and paver industry and taken thousands of dollars from unsuspecting consumers. Many of his victims tend to fit a particular profile: often elderly and residing in affluent neighborhoods in Walnut Creek and Concord. Investigators also believe there are additional victims in Contra Costa County, the South Bay, and the Central Valley.

Unlicensed contractors pose a threat to consumers by failing to acquire skills and licensure when hired to perform home improvement or construction projects. Some unlicensed contractors illegally require excessive down payments for construction or landscaping projects, and frequently fail to begin or complete projects once they receive money. Consumers are often unaware unlicensed contractors do not have completed background checks and usually do not carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees – which increases liability risks to consumers.

The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office has taken a proactive stance in protecting consumers in the county by partnering with multiple government agencies including the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) and the California Department of Insurance (CDI). This partnership conducts undercover sting operations and investigations involving unlicensed contractors who fail to obtain workers’ compensation insurance.

California law requires contractors to be licensed in their chosen specialty and to obtain workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Licensed Contractors are only allowed to request a down payment of $1,000 or 10% of the contract (whichever is less).

For more information on how you can protect yourself and verify a contractor’s license, go to cslb.ca.gov.

01-198386-5, 01-22-01155, 01-22-01272 | The People of the State of California vs. Rivas, Adan


CSLB Works with Bay Area Law Enforcement to Target Unlicensed Contractors

One of CSLB’s prior Most Wanted caught

SACRAMENTO, CA An unlicensed contractor who had been among the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) Most Wanted was recently arrested again, accused of defrauding multiple victims in Contra Costa County.

The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office has filed 38 charges against 41-year-old Modesto resident Adan Contreras Rivas related to financial elder abuse, theft by false pretense, theft with specified priors, and violations related to his fraudulent contracting practices.

Since June 2022, Rivas has been under investigation since his initial offenses were reported by a victim in Walnut Creek. When authorities arrested Rivas in Morgan Hill on November 8, he was operating under the name “Gutierrez Tree Services”— though he has used various business names like “New View Tree Care.” Rivas is alleged to have posed as a licensed contractor in the landscaping and paver industry and taken thousands of dollars from unsuspecting consumers. Many of his victims tend to fit a particular profile: often elderly and residing in affluent neighborhoods. Investigators also believe there are additional victims in Contra Costa County, Santa Clara County, and the Central Valley. Rivas had previously been convicted of charges related to unlicensed contracting.

Ahead of Rivas’ arrest, CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) worked on a sting with the Contra Costa DA’s Office and the California Department of Insurance to target unlicensed contractors. Among those who bid at the sting were Rivas’ parents, which helped investigators contact him.

During the sting in October, 14 suspects came to the sting property and provided bids on a variety of projects. The highest bid received was $58,400 for paver installation and tree work. Investigators issued nine Notices to Appear in court, initiated four non-licensee citations, and wrote two Stop Orders. Two of the suspects had outstanding warrants (for $100,000 and $25,000) and were arrested and transported to jail.

Unlicensed contractors pose a threat to consumers by failing to acquire skills and licensure when hired to perform home improvement or construction projects. Some unlicensed contractors illegally require excessive down payments for construction or landscaping projects and frequently fail to begin or complete projects once they receive money. Consumers are often unaware unlicensed contractors do not have completed background checks and usually do not carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees – which increases liability risks to consumers.

“Consumers should be sure to take some simple steps before hiring anyone to work in or around their home,” said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. “The fastest way is to make sure they have a state license and to check the license status using CSLB’s License Check. Homeowners should also use CSLB’s Find My Licensed Contractor feature to download and/or print a list of qualified licensed contractors in their area.”

Tips for Hiring a Contractor

  • Hire only California-licensed contractors. Ask to see the license. The license number must be on all ads, contracts, and business cards.
  • Get three bids, check references, and get a written contract.
  • Don’t rush into decisions and don’t hire the first contractor who comes along.
  • Don’t pay more than 10 percent down or $1,000 — whichever is less.
  • Don’t pay cash, and don’t let the payments get ahead of the work. Only pay for work as it is completed to your satisfaction.
  • Keep a job file of all project papers, including correspondence and copies of all payments.
  • Avoid making the final payment until you’re satisfied with the job.

For more information, visit CSLB’s website, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

About CSLB: CSLB operates under the umbrella of the Department of Consumer Affairs and licenses and regulates nearly 285,000 contractors in California. In 2021, CSLB helped consumers recover more than $44 million in ordered restitution.

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