Victim of fake COVID-19 testing explains how she was tricked

Shannon Wilson told WAVE 3 News she’s been victimized by the newest group of scammers. She said she fell for the scam because she was desperate.
Updated: Apr. 2, 2020 at 5:19 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - They're back.

Last year, WAVE 3 News was first to report on suspicious groups showing up around Louisville, offering medical testing in, of all places, shopping center parking lots. The groups took DNA samples, telling customers they were testing for cancer.

Now another group of scammers is back, this time preying on people’s fears over the coronavirus crisis. WAVE 3 News this week found a fake testing site set up on 17th and Broadway, and another one in Shelby Park.

Shannon Wilson told WAVE 3 News she’s been victimized by the newest group of scammers. She said she fell for the scam because she was desperate and thought it was real. Now she has a message for others to make sure no one else becomes a victim.

Wilson said she started to feel ill about two weeks ago. She took all the recommended steps: Went to the doctor, the emergency room, and used telehealth. One doctor told her she had all the COVID-19 symptoms, but said she couldn’t get tested unless she was in distress. She said she was told to go home and stay in isolation.

"People are being sent home to die,” Wilson said. “People are dying at home alone in isolation, and that is a terrible feeling not to be able to breathe. I know. I’m there.”

Wilson started having trouble breathing. She said she thought she found help when her co-worker told her about a pop- up COVID-19 testing site in Shelby Park. She went to the site at Sojourn Church Midtown on Tuesday.

"They were in their full get-up; they had white uniforms on, masks on, they even gave me a mask because they didn’t want me to cough on them,” Wilson said, adding that she was asked a series of questions by women who were dressed as nurses. Then she had to pay $40 to speak to a would-be doctor on the phone who decided she can get tested for COVID-19 for an additional $200. They swabbed her throat. The COVID-19 testing was fake.

"I feel violated,” Wilson said.

Wilson said her condition has gotten worse since Tuesday.

“There are days that I have night sweats," she said. "There are days that I cough so hard I feel like I broke a rib. People are terrified. I am terrified that I’m going to die in my sleep and leave my kids alone so that’s why I went. Then to find out that they didn’t help me.”

Wilson said she ended up in the hospital Wednesday where she finally got a real COVID-19 test.

”You just have to be leery because these people are truly demonic,” Wilson said, adding that she expects to get her results back from the hospital next week.

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