DNA sample scam targets South Memphis neighbors

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — People in a South Memphis neighborhood report that people dressed in scrubs are walking the streets asking people for DNA samples.

Police say it’s a scam, and they’re hoping to turn the samples of DNA into dollars.

Terrell Ware says he got a knock at his door Thursday. The man on the other side of the door asking that question was dressed in scrubs, Ware says, but his demeanor started to raise red flags.

“He asked me if I had Medicare or anything, and I told him no,” Ware said. “He was kind of jumpy and fidgety, it kind of alarmed me a little bit.”

But it’s why the man in scrubs was there that caused the moment to go from uncomfortable to unnerving — the unknown man wanted to swab Ware’s cheek.

Ware was baffled. As it turns out, this may have been at attempt at a new scam WREG was just made aware of.

Someone comes to your door, usually asking if you have any relatives who had cancer. Many will answer yes. From there, the solicitor asks for a DNA sample as part of a clinical cancer study.

According to a recent report from AARP, this scam is based on Medicaid sometimes paying for genetic testing, or there could be a ploy to steal your identity.

It’s scary stuff that has Memphis Police issuing a warning: Don’t engage them. Don’t answer the door, hang up the phone, block the phone number, cecause they are looking for victims who are easy prey.”

Ware was not a victim, but he knows some of his elderly neighbors could have been, which is why he has advice for those who come knocking.

“If someone knocks on the door talk to them through the door,” Ware said. “Don’t just invite them in, because we have scammers out here.”


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