We have a warning for recent flooding and storm victims to avoid becoming a victim again, this time by scam artists. The scams typically involve people offering quick, inexpensive repairs, either to fix a victim's house or even car. And these con artists always seem to appear whenever disaster strikes.
After flooding, mold is not the only thing that stinks. So do scam artists looking to make a few quick bucks off your misery. "Yeah, there've been all kinds of people through here with business cards," recalled Emily Shaw.
Shaw collected more than a dozen of those business cards inside this normally gated community called Normandy Village Condominiums, off Fairfield Avenue in Shreveport that suffered heavy flooding damage. Their main gates must stay open with all the work underway.
Some describe con artists as parasites looking for a quick meal from victims, who have few options and sometimes even less money. In this case, that does not describe most of these flood victims.
Kay Duos described one encounter with a man looking for work and how he "...came up to me, 'if you need anything,' and he gave me his card." Duos and her husband arrived at Normandy Village to help their daughter who lives in the complex and also suffered flood damage to her place.
Duos said she did not call back the repairman who approached her, "because if he needs work (laugh), you know, my husband's a dentist and I mean we don't go out soliciting, they come to us, you know it's reputation."
Shreveport Police Spokeswoman Kacee Hargrave warned that in these days when we have to be so careful about scam artists, that just to be on the safe side if you are solicited for repair work after the storm, it's probably a good idea to pass."
Instead, consumer experts suggest maybe asking a relative, friend or neighbor to see if they know of a good, reliable contractor. Then, take just a moment to check them out, even if it's just a call to the Better Business Bureau.
We met Calvin Bradford, a semi-retired carpenter and repairman who responded to a call from one of the residents at Normandy Village. He offered this advice to other flood victims needing to hire someone for repairs: "Be real careful! Especially right about now, you know, it's kind of in a panic right now and people's trying to get things done and you can't move too fast."
Shreveport Police report that this time around, with storms, they have not had to make any arrests for scams. And, they hope to keep it that way.