OLDSMAR — A sting at a vacant residence in Oldsmar resulted in 19 suspects with 36 charges, including unlicensed specialty contracting violations, workers compensation fraud and various other criminal charges.

Pinellas County Sheriff’s detectives assigned to the Economic Crimes Unit along with the Florida Department of Financial Services, and the State Attorney Sixth Judicial Court worked collaboratively to charge and arrest the individuals.

The undercover operation occurred at a vacant residence at 501 Buckingham Avenue East in Oldsmar from Saturday, June 1, through Monday, June 3. During the operation, unlicensed specialty contracting suspects offered to perform illegal unlicensed contracting work at the residence.

Detectives say these unlicensed contractors advertised on Facebook, Craigslist, Next Door and various social media platforms. The suspects came to the residence and met with undercover detectives while offering to do a variety of work that included electrical, plumbing, concrete work, painting, drywall and tile work.

All of these suspects agreed to engage in this illegal contracting work without a license and without pulling a permit.

Since the first undercover operation on Aug. 7, 2017, 171 suspects have been arrested with over 366 criminal charges. The total monetary amount quoted by these suspects has been close to $777,000.

On July 1, 2018, a law was passed that eliminated the existing licensing board in Pinellas County and turned the responsibility over to Pinellas County Government. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate criminal violations and work with Pinellas County Government to help protect citizens being exploited by those engaged in unlicensed contracting.

Citizens in Pinellas County can search for licensed contractors or report unlicensed construction activity by visiting www.pcclb.com. Citizens can also report violations of unlicensed contracting by contacting the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office at 727-582-6200.