SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Investigators from the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and other agencies visited several neighborhoods in the East County on Friday to provide information for residents on how they can protect themselves from scammers preying on fire victims.
DA’s Office investigator John Hays said, “The worst thing that can happen is the victims of a fire get victimized again by someone committing fraud against them.”
As residents begin to rebuild and fix the damage caused by the Valley Fire, local law enforcement officials have made it a priority to reach out to those communities before scammers do. They’re going door-to-door and posting signs warning residents about fire-related scams and solicitations by unlicensed contractors.
Hays added, “There are a lot of scams out there … to water testing to how much money they need to actually put forth to start a contract.”
Hays said a lot of times people don’t know what to look out for. So, if residents plan to get work done on their property, he urges residents do their homework and check the state’s websites.
“Check that the contract is valid, if there’s administrative action against them, or if they’ve had criminal action against them just like a doctor or dentist,” said Hays.
Depending on the type of crime, violators could face jail time or a hefty fine.
The DA’s Office says they launched a similar outreach right after the 2017 Lilac Fire. Hays said because of that, they were successful in preventing scams from happening.