FRAUD ALERT: Paradise was well known as a quiet retirement town before the Camp Fire. Now it’s known to a certain criminal element as a potential bonanza, a place ripe for fraud schemes.
Why would Paradise and its former residents be at high risk now, they’ve lost everything already, right? Not exactly. See we have ( or soon will have) a high concentration of citizens, many of them senior citizens, with large amounts of (fire insurance) money in need of spending to rebuild their lives. These folks need protection urgently. Don’t let Grandma and Grampa be swindled, like those in Katrina and other disasters.
Just think of how many ways scammers have cheated and defrauded the elderly and the trusting, but gullible. Now along comes this Camp Fire tragedy and an enormous number of people with cash in their pockets, desperate to get back into a home, buy a car and furniture. This could be a formula for a second disaster if we, as a community, aren’t careful.
Based on many past examples we can be assured there will be contractor fraud, insurance fraud, loan fraud, investment fraud, internet fraud, bank fraud, and more con games then anyone is currently prepared for, perhaps even our police?
Yes folks, Paradise is going to be like a huge magnet for scammers. So you better be prepared for what is coming.
Our local police departments better be prepared too! But, police operate more as a reactive force, arriving on the scene long after the fact. Crime prevention…well, that takes a lot of effort. It takes a well informed, strong, skillful leadership and exceptionally creative leader to get ahead of the scammers. Sadly, those things, as needed as they might be, are very rare in small town law enforcement agencies. But, you better hope our local police chiefs and the Sheriff are up to the task. If they aren’t, we’re going to be hearing a lot of sad stories about how some Grandma and Grampa were scammed out of all their fire insurance money by some nice young man who seemed so honest and helpful.
What can we as a community possibly do to ward off a deluge of scammers? For starters, I would like to see an ombudsman program set up so that any (especially elderly) person can call for a 2nd opinion before they release any money or sign any contract.
I would also like to see free consumer safety information presented at the FEMA office, DMV, the local police departments and shelters, wherever victims may be. And this handout info should cover how to spot a fraud and the 800 numbers to call to verify a contractors license or business license or to when to simply call the police and let them check it out!
I’m sure local law enforcement could do some brainstorming and come up with lots of good ideas to protect our fire victims from being victimized again, but time is short. Those insurance payouts will be coming fast and just as fast… the conmen looking to take it.
I have not yet suggested this idea to any local police or the Sheriff’s Office, but I will try. However, you could help. There’s nothing stopping you from calling them too and see what they have planned. I only bring this subject up so you can be aware, perhaps use these ideas to protect our community or maybe even your family?
So, please feel free to call the DA offices, call the Chief of Police, call wherever and whoever you think might be able to do some good and stop scammers dead in their tracks. And one more idea… I think it may be prudent to have a small, energetic police task force in place ASAP to share information, assist with an civilian ombudsman program, educate our community and especially reach out to those fire victims, before it’s too late.
I sincerely wish all of our fire victims the very best. You have been though so much, you deserve a break! And may you all rebuild your lives [free] of those conmen looking for a quick score.