Investigators protect Cocos Fire victims from fraud

After a fire, emotions run very high. Several members of the newly formed Wildfire Task Force spread out in Carlsbad, Escondido and San Marcos to make sure those unsteady homeowners make good decisions as they try to get back on their feet. Investigators from the District Attorney’s office and the Department of Insurance are going house to house in the neighborhoods affected by the Cocos Fire.

“We’re just in the area, working, notifying residents of some of the issues,” said investigator Lynn Rydalch of the DA’s office.

The aim is to warn people about illegal contractors and scam artists. This is the time, soon after the fires are out and people are back home, that contractors come around to help, but some are not legitimate.

“They come out, make bids on properties and are not licensed, don’t do the work to the level should be done or take money and never come back.”

Kathryn Alldredge was one of the first people to be let back into the Coronado Hills area after evacuations were lifted. Not ten minutes after she arrived, she saw a man standing in her driveway offering to “help” her with her insurance claim.

“How could you be here ten minutes after I got in?” Asked Alldredge. “And I thought: they’re like ambulance chasers, preying on peoples’ emotions and vulnerabilities, especially older people.”

There is this warning from the DA’s Insurance Fraud Division: if you are an unlicensed contractor operating in the fire zone, you will be prosecuted. It is a felony.

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