WASHINGTON, Ill. (CBS) — The state is trying to prevent Illinois tornado victims from becoming victims of scam artist contractors.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan said whenever there’s damaging weather, a certain percentage of those who show up to “help” are scam artists.

To prevent such scams in tornado-hit areas of the state, the attorney general’s office has had investigators and consumer fraud specialists deployed to those communities from the start.

“We have helped them set up permitting processes so that when contractors come in, we require them to provide us with information about where they’re from, and where we can contact them, so if we do end up with complaints in the aftermath, we can hopefully track these individuals down,” she said.

Madigan said hundreds of would-be contractors have converged on downstate Washington alone.

Her advice to victims:

“Please be careful. I know things seem very desperate right now, but you still need to make sure that you’re not giving people cash to do work. You still need to assure self that you’re dealing with an individual and organization that is reputable,” she said.

Madigan also warned the public to be careful about questionable charity groups that say they’re going to help tornado victims.

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