The FBI is joining efforts to prevent fraud related to Northern California wildfire recovery efforts. The bureau has created a task force with state and local agencies to investigate potential fraud against people who are trying to get their life back on track after the fires in October.
"We're looking at everything from in-person fraudulent schemes to things that are coming across on emails, social networking sites," says Stacey Moy - the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's San Francisco field office.
Moy has this warning for people recovering after the wildfires.
"Be very skeptical about some of these scams and unsolicited attempts to gain personal information and make claims on their behalf and also to try to assist them," says Moy, "because a lot of these are unchecked and actually criminal activities."
Moy says the task force will use intelligence about fraud in other recent disasters, including hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico earlier this year.
He says people caught trying to cheat fire victims will face serious consequences.
"Everything from civil claims and litigation to also criminal charges if captured," says Moy. "Some of these schemes are actually stemming from folks overseas as well. So it's not just in the region but nationwide and overseas."
Ashley Caldwell is with the Contractors State License Board.
"CSLB is a part of this task force. We know that the FBI is also working with FEMA, local law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Attorney General's Office."
The Northern California wildfires were the deadliest in state history, killing 44 people.
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