The outpour of support from surrounding communities and the world the North State has seen after the Carr Fire is overwhelming to say the least.
But do-gooders aren't the only ones who come into the picture when disaster strikes.
“But we're not here about those people. We're here about the people who are going to come into our community, who have already started to come into our community to prey on people who are already victims,” Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett said.
In a press conference Thursday, Bridgett said her office has already seen numerous cases of price gouging, looting and fraud from people posing as contractors and charitable organizations.
“And we are investigating those cases,” she said. “We are proactively out there making sure that we are protecting the community and will continue to do that.”
United States District Attorney Mcgregor Scott also announced his commitment to help the Shasta County District Attorney's Office prosecute these fraud cases which now carry a felony penalty after the Carr Fire.
“The United States Justice Department stands with local and state law enforcement to protect the integrity of the relief efforts,” Scott said.
Scott has worked on many disasters and said anytime government funds flow into an area, people will try to profit from it.
“Just when you think you've seen the bottom of the barrel, you encounter something like that where those who would prey on those who are having the most rending, devastating moments of their lives are now being preyed upon again,” Scott said. “So that's what we're trying to stop.”
The FBI has also pledged their assistance in investigating Carr-Fire-related fraud cases.
Scott said he has one message for anyone attempting to defraud victims of the Carr Fire: there will be consequences.
“We have zero tolerance for those who seek to prey on people at their most vulnerable moments,” Scott said.
Scott said residents and businesses are often the first to learn about scams and fraud, so they ask that the public be their eyes and ears during this time.
You can call the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 1-866-720-5721 if you think you’ve been the victim of any of the scams mentioned above.
Or you can call the district attorney’s office or local law enforcement, and they will investigate.