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Utica Mayor Worries About Scammers, Thieves In Oklahoma

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The mayor of an Illinois town that suffered from a killer tornado nine years ago, has a warning for those in Moore, Okla.: They’ll see both the best and the worst of human nature as they struggle to pick up the pieces.

“There are a lot of good people who want to help, but there are a lot of bad people who want to take advantage of you,” said Utica Mayor Fred Esmond.

Esmond said that when a tornado flattened much of the small town in LaSalle County in 2004–killing nine people–he learned the hard way that not all the people who descended on the town had good intentions.

“You have people who are trying to over charge on something with the cleanup … or just thievery,” he said. “Things are blowing all over. They are looking for anything that is worth some money.”

Utica implemented a system to record driver’s licenses and control people coming in from outside the town to help.

That way, they were able to keep out the scammers and thieves.