Disasters like Boles Fire can bring out scam artists

Deborra Brannon
Volunteers staff the Weed Police Department phone bank hot line Thursday afternoon. Clockwise from lower right, Shanna Machado, Christina Corona, Scott Ross, Chad Massey, Kenny Mallory, and Marie Gates.

Disasters such as Monday’s Boles Fire in the City of Weed draw help and support but also scam artists who try to prey on the victims.

Weed Police Department Public Information Officer Sergeant Justin Mayberry said scams can originate online as well as in person.

He said funding websites such as gofundme.com may post funding requests that are not valid. Such a request may tell citizens to “send me the money and I’ll get it to them.”

“If you don’t know the sponsor personally, don’t do it,” Mayberry said.

Trusted organizations such as the Red Cross, Catholic Services, and the Salvation Army are accepting donations for the Boles Fire victims.

“If you want to donate locally, go to local churches, Tri Counties Bank or U.S. Bank,” he said.

Scott Valley Bank is also accepting donations for disaster victims, according to a press release.

Some people falsely claiming to be victims of the Boles Fire have sought assistance, Mayberry said, and Weed PD has heard of an instance of someone who falsely claimed to be a retired WPD officer.

He said people seeking assistance who are not known personally should be referred to an organization such as the Salvation Army.

“And if you have phone calls or interactions with people you don’t know claiming any type of authority, contact the Weed PD on one of our hotlines,” he said.

The hot line numbers are all numbers between 530-938-5034 and 5039, as well as 938-5041 and 938-5042.

Weed Police Chief Martin Nicholas stressed that the hot lines are being staffed by community volunteers who have a lot of information and can help.