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State Officials Warn Residents Affected By Miami Valley Tornadoes: Beware Of Scams

National Weather Service investigators are continuing to survey the damage littering the Miami Valley region after the  Memorial Day storms that killed one person and injured dozens more.
National Weather Service investigators are continuing to survey the damage littering the Miami Valley region after the Memorial Day storms that killed one person and injured dozens more.

In the wake of this week’s devastating tornadoes that killed one person and injured dozens of others, many Miami Valley relief organizations are mobilizing to assist storm victims. Unfortunately, it’s likely some con men and con women are mobilizing, too.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost says he expects a wave of storm-chasing scammers to arrive on people’s doorsteps as storm recovery continues. Some may offer inspections and services that may or may not be real,  he says, and may be wildly overpriced.

The Attorney General’s office urges people needing storm-related home repairs to research any business offering services, and seek multiple price estimates from at least three different contractors -- something that may be challenging for people without internet service as a result of the storm. 

Officials stress the importance of reading all agreements carefully before signing.

The Ohio Department of Insurance also advises homeowners to not allow anyone to inspect their properties without being present.

Spokesman Robert Denhard says fly-by-night contractors often use dirty tricks to take advantage of vulnerable disaster victims.

“One technique that fraudulent contractors will use is to actually take a golf ball and a hammer to create the effect that the home was damaged by hail or flying debris,” Denhard says, “and that will be an avenue to scam the homeowner.”

Officials caution tornado victims to pay for recovery services with a credit card, which may offer more protection in the event of a dispute down the road.

Ohioans who are concerned about scams in their area are asked to call the Attorney General’s Help Line at 1-800-282-0515, or the Bureau of Crime Investigations Tip Line at 855-BCI-OHIO.

For more advice on safe disaster recovery, the Department of Insurance has set up a Severe Weather and Disaster Preparation and Recovery Toolkit.

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