Ozark Acres Water warns of fake meter reader

SHARP COUNTY, AR (KAIT) – A man posing as a water meterreader tried to rip off an elderly woman in Sharp County.

The alleged scam happened June 17 at the woman's home inOzark Acres, which is located near Williford.

The woman agreed to speak with Region 8 News only if heridentity could remain hidden. She says she still feels unsafe since she noticeda strange man driving slowly up and down her street two weeks ago.

"It's very uneasy when you live alone," the woman said. "Youdon't know whether he'll come back at night or what."

She says after the man drove by her home several times, hefinally parked his truck in some weeds nearby, walked into her yard and liftedthe cover on her water meter.

"I never saw him before in my life," she said. "He couldn'ttell anybody was here because I keptthe lights out inside."

Before ever speaking to the man, the woman said she wasimmediately skeptical because of her experience during the ice storm.

"I had so many people that wanted to fix my limbs and wantedto come in and do my yard," she said. "I mean, we just had people hit here fromeverywhere."

She stepped onto her front porch and finally confronted theman, asking him what he was doing. He said he worked for the water company andcould help her fix a leak for $500.

"I said well if you'll just get back in your truck," shesaid, "I can go in here and make a call and call the lady that I know, and shecan tell me."

The man then left quickly, so the woman, still shaken,dialed the Ozark Acres Water Association office.

"I was really glad that she called us and that she didn'tgive him any money," said Alma Lancaster, the water office manager.

Lancaster confirmed there was no leak when she went to thewoman's house and that it was all a scam, especially because the water companydoes not repair any personal leaks on people's property.

"So far, I haven't had any other complaints from people, soI'm hoping that maybe the word's getting out," Lancaster said. "It could happenanywhere."

The Ozark Acres Water Association has alerted its customersto be aware of the scam, while the town has also put new neighborhood watchsigns everywhere to encourage residents to look out for each other.

The woman whose home was targeted was able to get a fairlyaccurate description of the suspect. She says that he is in his mid-40s; hasred, wiry hair; wears glasses and drives an older model green Toyota truck.

"He will scam somebody if he hasn't already," the womansaid.

The Sharp County Sheriff's Department is now investigatingthis incident. Anyone with information about the scam should call the sheriff'soffice at 870-994-7356.

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