Sweetwater Police, Insurance Agent Warn Public of 'Storm Scammers'

SWEETWATER, Texas (KTAB)-- Following the severe storms that hit the Big Country, Sweetwater police and insurance agents are warning about potential scammers.

When a storm, like Tuesday nights hits, the first thought on a home and business owners' mind is typically: 'How am I going to fix all of this damage?' The last thing that is thought abut is falling victim to a scam. According to the Sweetwater Police Department, your storm damage could be a scammers prime real estate.

"In one instance, there was a roof blown off the building that took out several power lines that are still being repaired," Sweetwater Police Department Public Information Officer Cory Stroman said. "there's tree branches and just different areas throughout the city that have been hit very hard."

"Two story buildings, or the gym-type buildings have had a lot of damage with metal or the roofing material coming off laying in the street," State Farm Agent Richard Fergeson observed.

The SPD is warning about another potential storm that could be brewing. THis one doesn't involve high winds, rain or hail, but it does have the potential to cause damage to your wallet.

"After an incident like this, we see several people come into town and use this as a scam opportunity," Officer Stroman said. "They'll come in and they'll say, 'Hey, give me X number of dollars and I'll go buy materials and I'll fix your damage for a fraction of what the insurance will give you.'"

Richard Fergeson said the best advice is to try to use local services available.

"If  you can, do business with local companies. It's good for the local economy. It's good for everyone involved," he said.

Fegeson explained that often times, after large storms, local companies get completely booked. That's when out-of-town companies come to town and scammers are not far behind.

"There are companies that come in ocassionally from out of town, and that's not to say that out-of-town companies are not reputable, but that there is more potential for fraud and potential for people not fixing roofs," he said.

"There are scammers that will follow the path of a large storm just for the sake of making a few extra bucks," Officer Stroman said.

Both Fergeson and Stroman advise to be aware of companies that ask for money up front. A good rule of thumb is to check with the Better Business Bureau and your local Chamber of Commerce for recommendations when it comes to fixing your storm damage.

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