Attorney General Mike Beebe has issued an alert reminding senior Arkansans to be careful about whom they allow into their houses. A recent case in east Arkansas has led to a criminal investigation after scam artists went to at least two homes claiming to be with the local Area Agency on Aging (AAA). They were not authorized case workers, but that was not discovered until after they stole hundreds of dollars and gained personal information from their victims.
The Area Agencies on Aging have eight district offices in Arkansas and assist thousands of senior Arkansans with their health care and everyday living. Case workers often make home visits to clients. It is that arrangement that con artists took advantage of in Cross County.
In one case being investigated by the Cross County Sheriff's Office, a man appeared at the door of an elderly woman, claiming he was there on behalf of the Area Agency to help the woman save money on utility bills. He asked for her Medicare information, and then she assisted him in taking measurements around her house.
When he left, the woman saw the man get into an unmarked car with another man and drive away. Suspicious, she began checking around her house, and discovered that hundreds of dollars had been taken from her purse. She called the police.
Another woman was targeted the following day using the same scheme, and reportedly had hundreds of dollars stolen from her home.
"This is a particularly ruthless and despicable scam," Beebe said. "These con artists are taking money and personal information and using the good name of a legitimate agency to do so. The local police are looking into the case, and I hope this alert will help prevent similar crimes in other parts of Arkansas."
Legitimate Area Agency case workers wear name badges that say who they are, and drive marked agency vehicles. In most cases, they also call ahead before making home visits.
If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of someone who comes to your door, call the agency or company the person claims to represent. If you are not able to get confirmation or are still uncomfortable with the situation, ask the person to leave and tell him or her you will contact the agency or company about a better time for a return visit. If you feel the person is being too persistent or applying too much pressure, or you feel threatened, call the police.
For further information on other consumer matters, contact the Public Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office at Suite 1100, 323 Center Street, Little Rock, AR 72201. The office can be reached by calling 682-2341 (Little Rock) or 1-800-482-8982. Spanish-speaking consumers can also call (501) 683-3130. TDD service is available for the hearing impaired at 682-6073. The address on the World Wide Web is www.ag.state.ar.us.