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Disaster victims often fall prey to scams

Wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes. These unpredictable forces of nature can be devastating to those living in affected areas. Even those not directly affected may want to lend support in whatever way they can. Unfortunately, natural disasters are a golden opportunity for scammers, who target those who’ve been directly affected and those who want to offer their support.

Natural disaster scams typically start with unsolicited contact by telephone, social media, email or in person. Scammers may impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-meaning consumers; set up fake websites with names that mimic legitimate charities to trick people into sending money; and pretend to be from the IRS and collect personal information under the guise of helping victims file loss claims and get tax refunds.

After a natural disaster, fraudulent promoters typically come along trying to sell damaged buildings or land lots allegedly available at rock-bottom prices and that can be rehabbed or redeveloped. Too often after the retiree has invested $5,000, $10,000, or their entire savings or retirement account, it’s revealed that 46 others are on that mortgage list, which renders it worthless or, in many cases, the mortgage or land title doesn’t even exist. The older generation tend to fall for fraudulent real estate scams due to the tangibility of land.

To find reputable charities to support victims of natural disasters, use the IRS’s tax exempt organization search or look for an organization’s charity rating on places such as Guidestar and Charity Navigator. If you’re a disaster victim, use the National Council on Aging’s BenefitsCheckUp disaster assistance tool to find legitimate help with relief and financial assistance.

June 13. Grand theft: The man kneeling down beside the car to avoid being seen by the caller appears suspicious at 1:55 a.m. in the 1300 block of Darlene Way.

Suspicious: The man prying down the window of a vehicle appears suspicious to the caller at 1:45 p.m. in the 500 block of Ash Street.

Thought for the day: The bashful vehicle burglar gets the appropriate questions wrong and the owner states there was no permission to break the ignition or steal the radio.

June 14. Trespass: The subject to be trespassed has very distinctive hair color at 10:03 a.m. in the 1000 block of Nevada Way.

Theft: The caller believes a piece of electronic equipment has been taken by a family member to be pawned at 10:33 a.m. in the 600 block of Adams Boulevard.

Thought for the day: Logic says if you want to remain incognito it is best to keep the flair to a minimum.

June 15. Traffic: The infraction is insignificant but the outstanding warrants are another matter altogether at 5:12 a.m. in the area of mile marker 10 on U.S. Highway 93.

Exposure: The subject was sternly counseled on the appropriate use of a public restroom instead of a parking lot at 8:54 a.m. in the 900 block of Avenue B.

Thought for the day: Most times the inconvenience of court and fines are much less than those experienced by a chance encounter.

June 16. Accident: The driver turned onto the roadway just as the bicycle rider did at 6:48 p.m. in the 1000 block of Nevada Way.

Juvenile disturbance: The caller reports juveniles banging on musical instruments at 10:33 p.m. in the 1400 block of Marita Drive.

Thought for the day: The would-be band members are given alternative locations and times for practice sessions.

June 17. DUI: The driver jumps several curbs and blames it on the extended Cinco de Mayo celebration at 8:26 p.m. in the 1200 block of Nevada Way.

Welfare: The caller wants a welfare check on themselves as they believe they may have been assaulted while under the influence at 9:28 p.m. in the 500 block of Lake Havasu Lane.

Thought for the day: It is a known fact that intoxicating substances don’t make people smarter.

June 18. Suspicious: The intoxicated subject insists that he only needs a little nap before navigating the distance home at 1:13 a.m. in the 800 block of Buchanan Boulevard.

Wanted: The wanted subject may have skipped his appearance at court but they have spotted him for a cameo appearance at 8:44 p.m. in the area of Aztec Drive and Fifth Street.

Thought for the day: Nothing like a little asphalt to take a brief siesta.

June 19. Traffic hazard: The luggage strewn across the roadway causes the motor officer a bit of concern at 4:56 a.m. in the area of mile marker 4 on Interstate 11.

Suspicious: The caller is concerned for the welfare of a person laying on the ground near a bus stop at 9:23 p.m. in the 1600 block of Boulder City Parkway.

Thought for the day: Motorcycle 1 — Suitcases 0. This time.

Thought of the week: Suspicious: Numerous callers report a nude subject, who appears distraught, cleaning their vehicle alongside the roadway at 11:01 a.m. June 18 in the area a mile marker 10 on southbound Interstate 11. I believe that I too would be distraught if I were cleaning my car under such circumstances.

Tina Ransom is a dispatcher with Boulder City Police Department. She is coordinator of the Boulder City Citizen’s Academy.

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