NEW PORT RICHEY (FOX 13) - A two-day undercover sting landed a group of suspected unlicensed contractors in the Pasco County Jail, deputies said Friday.
According to the sheriff's office, undercover deputies contacted eight contractors and asked them to come out to a home in New Port Richey to install a water heater and electrical outlet.
They all said they could do the work, offered estimates, and ended up in handcuffs.
"They were aware that what they were doing was illegal so it seemed like it was maybe their moral compass was overwhelmed by the need to be paid," said Detective Matthew Aragon.
Aragon said, prior to their arrest this week, none of the contractors had been accused of scamming anyone or ripping anyone off. Investigators believe these arrests prevented that from happening.
Detectives said the suspects were, however, on the radar of officials with the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation.
"A lot of these folks solicited that they would do all sorts of work, anything from plumbing, electrical, roof repair. You name it, they say that they were capable of doing it," Aragon told FOX 13. "By us getting a hold of them now, we essentially can avoid them either going out an completing poor work or going out and scamming people."
This is typically a misdemeanor charge, but because the Bay Area is still under a State of Emergency due to Hurricane Irma, charges against unlicensed contractors can be upgraded to felonies.
These suspects now face a possible sentence of up to five years in prison.