Scammers look to capitalize on tornado cleanup

Unaffected neighbors get suspicious phone calls from cleanup service

YULEE, Fla. – Cleanup has been the main goal in Yulee after an F1 tornado ripped through the area Thursday, causing tree and house damage to at least 40 homes. As is the case with many communities stricken by disaster, scammers may have surfaced in Yulee, looking to capitalize on the event.

Tim Meredith said his neighborhood didn’t get any damage from the recent tornado, but he did receive a suspicious phone call from a person claiming to be offering free estimates for storm damage cleanup.

Meredith said when he received the phone call, he was worried, because he feels that people could be getting scammed at a time where they need help the most.

“Every time that there is some type of natural disaster it seems like this happens, or the price gouging happens, and it's just unfortunate,” Meredith said. “I'm raising two young girls, and it's hard for them to understand why I hang up on so many phone calls. I tried to explain to them that it's a telemarketer and (they) are trying to get money. It's disappointing as a parent that you have to go through this.”

Meredith said the call came from an 888 number, and it took 4 to 5 “hellos” before someone got on the line and spoke back. He said that was a red flag, and not being able to get a word in edgewise was another.

“I tried to cut in and say I didn't have any home damage and kind of give them some insight on what areas did have damage, which was just a little bit to my north east and he just talked over me, so at that time, I hung up,” Meredith said.

News4Jax attempted to contact the 888 number that called Meredith, only to get the company’s voicemail. News4Jax left a message, but has not received a response.

If you’re looking to get reputable storm damage cleanup services, you can look on sunbiz.org. If you already have a company in mind, you can take that company’s organizational name and put it in sunbiz.org to double-check their reputability.