Like vultures circling the scene of a tragedy, swindlers are expected to come out of the woodwork in response to the Monument Fire.
Both fire victims and those wanting to help them are at risk of being targeted by tricksters looking to part them from their money, consumer protection agencies say.
The Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona this week issued a warning to would-be donors to beware of bogus charities claiming to raise money for fire relief.
“Sadly, con artists come out of the woodwork at times like this,” Kim States, president of the local BBB, said in a news release.
Hucksters use a variety of methods — phone calls, door-to-door visits, even phony websites — to create the illusion they are legitimate nonprofits, States said.
Would-be donors can check a charity’s legitimacy by calling the BBB at 888-5353 in the Tucson area or at (520) 732-9823 in Cochise County.
The Arizona’s Registrar of Contractors also has issued an alert to fire victims to be wary of unlicensed contractor scams.
“After fires and other disasters, contractor scam artists often seek to take advantage of vulnerable populations,” an agency news release said.
Scammers typically go door-to-door offering construction services at deep discount prices with leftover materials.
Often, they require cash payments before work begins — but once the cash changes hands, the contractor vanishes.
Information and tips on choosing a reputable contractor are available on the registrar’s website www.azroc.gov or by calling toll-free at 1-877-692-9762.
Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at email@example.com or at 573-4138.