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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Unlicensed contractor pleads guilty after lying to Camp Fire survivors

Krisofer Chivrell faces up to three years in prison for falsely telling a Camp Fire victim he was a licensed contractor who could rebuild a house.

PARADISE, Calif. — A Paradise man has pleaded guilty to a felony charge for falsely claiming to be a licensed contractor when he entered an agreement to rebuild a Camp Fire victim's destroyed one bedroom cottage. 

According to a joint news release from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) and Butte County District Attorney's Office, Krisofer Chivrell, of Paradise, faces up to three years in jail for the charge of contracting without a license in a declared disaster area. 

After telling the survivor he did in fact have a license and entered into a $20,000 contract — for which he received $5,000 up front — a family friend noticed he was inexperienced and didn't seem qualified to do the work, the release says. That's when the survivor discovered he was lying. 

RELATED: Cost of battling Camp Fire grows to estimated $82.2 million

While contracting without a license is typically a misdemeanor charge in California, the release says doing so in a declared disaster area elevates it to a felony — and that the Butte County District Attorney's Office is paying special attention to these types of crimes following the Camp Fire. 

Chivrell is not currently in custody and will learn his fate during sentencing on Dec. 4, 2019. 

RELATED: Dog found 'protecting the only house left on the block' after Camp Fire in Paradise

Camp Fire survivors who fear they have also been taken advantage of by unlicensed contractors are asked to call the Butte County District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-866-DA FRAUD (1-866-323-7283). Homeowners should also file a complaint with CSLB.

CSLB offers the following tips for those recovering after a disaster:

  • Contractors working on a job — from debris removal to rebuilding — totaling $500 or more for labor and materials must be licensed by CSLB. To become licensed, a contractor must pass a licensing examination, verify at least four years of journey-level experience, carry a license bond, and pass a criminal background check.
  • Homeowners can build a customized list of contractors in their area, by classification with CSLB’s “Find My Licensed Contractor” feature.
  • Homeowners can check a contractor’s license status in seconds by performing an “Instant License Check.” A search by license number, personnel name and/or business name can quickly provide information on any possible complaints filed against a contractor, and whether the contractor has obtained workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Down payments for home improvement jobs in California cannot total more than 10 percent of the contract price, or $1,000, whichever is less.
  • Get at least three bids. Avoid hiring the first contractor that comes along.
  • CSLB has a special section of www.cslb.ca.gov dedicated to disaster relief. Head to CSLB’s “Disaster Help Center” for additional resources. 

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