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Oklahoma tornadoes: Natural disasters attract scammers

State Attorney General Scott Pruitt warns tornado victims to be aware of unscrupulous contractors
BY RICHARD MIZE richardmize@opubco.com Published: May 25, 2013
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Donors beware.

Disasters like this week's tornadoes in Moore, south Oklahoma City, Edmond and elsewhere attract scammers.

“For those folks around the country who want to donate funds to help families in Oklahoma, please be alert and only donate to reputable relief charities such as the Salvation Army or the Red Cross. The first scam we typically see after devastation like this is charity fraud,” state Attorney General Scott Pruitt said. “We have more than 30 investigators in the field to help Oklahomans avoid scams, fraud and price gouging as communities work to recover and rebuild.”

Anyone who suspects charity fraud or finds price gouging at gas stations, grocery stores, rental car companies or hotels should call the AG's hotline immediately at (405) 521-2029.

Over the next few weeks, “criminals will shift focus to scams involving clean up, removal, home repair and tree trimming,” Pruitt said. “Home and business owners will want to quickly repair their property, but we urge them to be cautious and patient and to use reputable contractors.

“We ask that residents pay particular attention to criminals known as ‘travelers' who go from one community to the next to take advantage of vulnerable Oklahomans.”

Pruitt cautioned people to be wary of repair services and contractors who:

• Solicit for work door-to-door.

• Offer discounts for finding other customers.

• “Just happen to have” materials left over from a previous job.

• Accept only cash payments.

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