The Texas Forest Service says scam artists are using extreme drought conditions and a tough economy to swindle landowners into making bad deals on timber sales.

The TFS says timber sale scams are common when the economy is struggling.

In the most common form of this scam, buyers use the drought to convince landowners that their trees are dying, and scare them into making a fast and premature sale.  The buyer then harvests the timber but never pays the seller.

A TFS spokeswoman says as bad as the drought is, there's no need for anyone to panic and sell now.

“While many trees have gone dormant because of the drought, state tree experts say it’s too soon to tell how many will die and how many could make a comeback next spring.”

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The Texas Forest Service has free advice for landowners, and a list of consulting foresters on its Web site.