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Scammers Claiming To Be CDC Employees Seek Donations, Offer 'Tests' To Seniors

Francesco Improta

Where most people see the COVID-19 pandemic as a national emergency, scammers are using the opportunity to prey on others--and some are targeting the elderly.

Imagine getting a great deal for a vacation overseas from a travel website. You make a down payment, but the “agency” sends a message saying the trip has been postponed. Eventually, they tell you that due to the coronavirus, they are not issuing any refunds. This is one of many scams reported to the Better Business Bureau in recent weeks.

Stephanie Garland is the Bureau’s regional director for the Springfield area. She said the outbreak has scammers "coming out of the woodwork." 

“Creating fake IP addresses, creating fake businesses, creating fake business licenses, even fake websites, trying to take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak. It is very concerning to us,” Garland told KSMU.

Some of these scams include selling fake medical masks and fake cures. Price gouging is also a problem, Garland said.

Mark Applegate with the Area Agency on Aging said he's seeing fraud targeting senior citizens.

“We’ve already seen people faking being CDC employees wanting donations, we have people faking being CDC, saying, ‘In order to get tested we need to pre-screen,’ by them calling you and they need to get your Social Security number and your date of birth first,” Applegate said.

The Area Agency on Aging's ALERT program sends fraud alerts to seniors who sign up.

The BBB says people should look for a company's “About Us” page on their website--and research whether the physical address listed actually matches on Google Maps.

You can also type the name of the business into The Better Business Bureau website to get its rating, or to go

Josh Conaway is a graduate of Missouri State University with a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in International Affairs. He works as a news reporter and announcer at KSMU. His favorite part of the job is exploring the rich diversity of the Ozarks and meeting people with interesting stories to share. He has a passion for history and running.