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Scam Watch: Protect Yourself from South Fork and Salt Fire Fraudsters

Otoño Consulting, LLC

Jun 21, 2024

Stay vigilant against fraudsters preying on vulnerable individuals in the wake of recent wildfires.

Two wildfires continue to burn in Southern New Mexico, and flash floods are compounding safety risks for residents on the Mescalero Reservation, Upper Canyon, southwest Ruidoso, and areas throughout Otero and Lincoln Counties. Natural disasters like the South Fork and Salt fires can occur with little warning and escalate rapidly, leaving communities vulnerable to another serious threat: fraudsters.


Disaster-related scams are common after major catastrophes, as fraudsters exploit the disruption and confusion to target struggling individuals. Here are some tips to protect yourself from these scams.


Beware of Fake Fees: Protect Your Wallet

  • No Fees from FEMA and SBA: FEMA and the Small Business Administration never charge application fees.

  • Spot the Scammers: If someone claims to be a government official and asks for money to qualify you for FEMA funds or a government grant, they’re likely a scammer.

  • Get Accurate Information: Visit or for reliable details.


Safeguard Your Repairs: Avoid Scam Artists

  • Upfront Payment Red Flags: Scammers may offer help but demand payment for cleanup or repairs upfront. Never pay the full amount in advance.

  • Demand Documentation: Only hire those who provide copies of their license and insurance, and insist on a written contract.


Be a Wise Donor: Ensure Your Generosity Counts

  • Research Before You Give: If you’re not directly affected but want to donate, take the time to investigate where your donations are going.

  • Avoid Charity Scammers: Make sure your money helps the intended recipients and not fraudulent charities.


Suspect a Disaster-Related scam? Tell the FTC at

For questions about the South Fork and Salt Fires, and resources available, you can call 1-833-NMFIRE6 (1-833-663-4736).



 References: FTC, Consumer Advice: How to avoid scams before and after a weather emergency

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