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Scammers targeting elderly NWA residents during COVID-19 pandemic

Two men knocked on a woman's door saying they needed to test her for the coronavirus since she was high-risk. Then they made her pay money and stole her information.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A coronavirus scam is targeting the elderly community in Northwest Arkansas. 

An older woman says two men came to a woman’s door saying they were from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and they wanted to test her for COVID-19 since she was older and in the high-risk category.

“They swabbed her nose and basically told her that her test came back negative," said Vice President training officer at First Security Bank, Jay Crutz. "She was required to pay them, she paid them $50, so she gave them a check. They also got her social security number and date of birth.”

They also got her debit and credit card numbers as well. Crutz and another bank employee encountered this woman at a grocery store this week.

“In these times it’s hard to believe there are folks out there that do not have a moral compass, that do unconscionable things that don’t just affect the elderly but people in general,” Crutz said.

Jennifer Hallum with the Area Agency on Aging says, unfortunately, there are people in our society who like to capitalize on events like the coronavirus that are causing a lot of public anxiety.

“It’s appalling to me that we would want to target our seniors who are vulnerable to this virus. It’s just really unfortunate…I’m just kind of speechless that this would happen this soon,” Hallum said.

Hallum encourages caregivers, friends and family of seniors to warn them of this and other potential scams.

“Oftentimes people in this situation elderly or young, they have a sense of shame and they may not be as forthcoming. If you notice something make sure and ask them questions and support them,” Hallum said.

The Arkansas Department of Health says they nor the CDC would ever come to your home unannounced. 

If you hear of something like this happen to someone you know, make sure to report it to your local police department and to the Attorney General’s office. 

The Area Agency on Aging in Fort Smith also offers resources for seniors who have been scammed.

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