‘Handful’ of scammers in Lee County preying on storm survivors

Updated: Mar. 23, 2019 at 6:28 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - While thousands of volunteers flocked to Lee County to lend a helping hand after the deadly EF-4 tornado touched down, many scammers were also in the area, trying to take advantage of those looking to rebuild.

“We’re warning anyone that has been affected by the storms here in Lee County that there will be, unfortunately, occasions when people that are trying to profit off of other people’s misfortune will be in the area,” Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said.

Jones said he’s already seen a “handful” of scammers in the area, many of them posing as contractors and offering to clean up debris.

“A lot of the debris is not close to the right of way and it requires moving it there, which may be quite an undertaking for some people, and that’s where some of this could possibly come in. We’ve been alerted on a couple of occasions and been able to deal with it and effectively prevent something from happening," Jones said.

Jones said if you are approached by someone you suspect to be a scammer, ask to see their state license.

“They should have an identification card that’s issued through Home Builders. It’s actually a card that’s good nationwide and it identifies them as a vetted construction agency or whatever type of service they’re performing," Jones said.

It’s also important to get referrals and estimates.

“If they’re asking for all the money upfront, or if they’re charging what would seem to be a really high price for doing something that wouldn’t justify that offense, those types of warning signs are there," Jones said.

If you believe you have been scammed, contact your local authorities.

“We’ve been very vigilant and very diligent on trying to stay in that area and make sure that we have the proper people coming in. We’ve had security checkpoints all through here the last couple of weeks, and it’s been a process of just ensuring that authorized people are in the area and that if we receive any report about someone that’s conducing any unauthorized business or conducting any type of what would appear to be a scam that we’re on it pretty quick," Jones said.

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