Scam warnings issued following deadly East Tennessee wildfires

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- While no scams have been reported in connection to the deadly fires in Gatlinburg, the Tennessee Secretary of State's office is warning people about the possibilities.

"It's disgusting. It's disgusting and despicable," Ashley McMillan said.

McMillan was sick to her stomach at the idea that criminals could be looking to get rich off of a tragedy.

"It's always people like that out there and you just have to keep -- you just have to rise above them," McMillan, who is a University of Tennessee Knoxville alum, said. "It's been really heartbreaking."

It has been hard for her and the nearly 10,000 Vols who live in the Memphis area to cope with the devastating images of the wildfires in Gatlinburg.

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"It's very hard for us to all watch that," McMillan explained.

The secretary of state is working to beat scammers to the punch by telling people the best ways to give at a time like this.

"Check to see if it's registered with the division of charitable solicitations, fantasy sports, and gaming," the Tennessee Secretary of State's office stated in a video.

The state advised citizens to take their time and resist the pressure to give on the spot.

If you are asked to donate by text or email, "verify it is directly from the charity or non profit."

"It's incredibly devastating and sad and we're hoping they can rebuild and recover," McMillan told WREG.

People like McMillan and those in the Memphis Region UT Knoxville Alumni Chapter who hold Gatlinburg close to their hearts say for people to give responsibly and keep in mind the people who lost everything in an instant.

"Not only have families lost their homes and businesses, but they've also lost family members and there's just no words for that," McMillan said.

To look up information about charities or solicitors, visit or call the division at (615) 741-2555 or toll free at 1-800-861-7393.

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