BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Benton County law enforcement says it’s investigating a scam in which scammers are meeting their victims in person and demanding money.
Lt. Shannon Jenkins, public information officer for the Benton County’s Sheriff’s Office, says law enforcement feels lucky about this case because it has pictures of the vehicle and a person of interest.
Law enforcement also believes there is more than one suspect involved.
“Unfortunately, that’s just the times that we’re living in where we’ve got a lot of people that want to do and get a lot for nothing, and unfortunately, law-abiding citizens get the brunt of it,” said Jenkins.
Scams happen all the time in Benton County, according to Jenkins.
She says scammers will pretend to be law enforcement and say the victims missed jury duty, failed to appear in court or signed for a summons and did not appear.
“They want to get that taken care of. And what happens is the scammers will go through and say, ‘I will keep you out of jail if you pay “X” amount of dollars,’” Jenkins said.
Jenkins says people do not see it as a red flag because they can go to jail if they fail to comply or appear.
When asked what makes this scam different, Jenkins said, “This weekend, they actually asked the victim to meet them. So, the victim withdrew some money and handed it over to the suspects.”
Usually, scams are done over the phone.
“What they’re asking people to do is to go to a Walmart or Walgreens, CVS or somewhere and get some green dot cards, gift cards, and then they ask them to read the number over the phone. So they’ll make excuses on why they can’t now meet you with this,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins says people of all ages can fall victim to scams, but senior citizens tend to be an easier target.
“They’re very law-abiding citizens. And they always want to do the right thing. And they want to always help people when they can,” Jenkins said.
Leigh Ann McCasland, director of sales and marketing for Village on the Park Bentonville, says although there hasn’t been a recent incident of scamming at the senior living community, she recalls her 80-year-old family member who was scammed in 2011.
“She thought that she was starting an online business and was scammed into opening credit cards and had a great deal of money again and about $100,000 stolen from her directly,” McCasland said.
McCasland says her relative felt lonely and made a personal connection with the scammers.
“She trusted them and they took advantage of that,” McCasland said.
McCasland says they were able to get the money back with the help of then-Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.
She also says if her relative didn’t get the money back, she wouldn’t have been able to live at the Village on the Park.
To make sure this doesn’t happen to any of the residents at Village on the Park, McCasland says she tells them to not give any bank or social security information and ask families to help monitor their purchases.
“Many of our residents are trusting,” she said.
If you have been scammed or know the person in the Facebook post above, Jenkins encourages you to reach out to local law enforcement.