Flames die down, scam artists just warming up - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Flames die down, scam artists just warming up

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - State agencies are teaming up with the district attorney's office to make sure victims of last week's wildfires don't become victims of scam artists.

A wildfire task force is warning those homeowners about would-be criminals who prey on victims of natural disasters.

"We are contacting residents in disaster, fire areas trying to make sure they aren't hit up by unlicensed contractors and no fraud goes on. We're just trying to protect them from being victims twice," DA investigator Lynn Rydalch said.

The task force is trying to prevent people from being scammed by unlicensed contractors, who should know that working without a license during a state of emergency, is a felony.

"I think it's wonderful that somebody's doing something to warn the public from scam artists," fire victim Robert Cook said.

Cook lost everything -- including his cat -- when flames ripped through his building at the Windsor Apartments.

"I am completely appalled by anyone who would take advantage of anyone like myself, anybody here at this apartment building, anybody who has lost their homes," he said.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis warns people not to business with anyone who asks for money up front, whether it be for simply clearing debris, or more major contracting work.

"Victims, beware, make sure you're diligent. Don't just rely on someone who says they're going to give you something too good be true, because it is too good to be true," she said.

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