‘It disgusted me’: Mississippi woman worries website preys on special needs children

MEMPHIS, TN. — A Panola County mother of a four-year-old autistic boy worries her information was stolen by a website claiming to help special needs children.

“It disgusted me,” said the young mother, who asked not to be identified. “I definitely was not going to be quiet.”

She asked FOX13 to hide her identity because she said she is concerned her information was stolen in the scam.

“If this is a scam, it’s really sick,” said Daniel Irwin, spokesman for the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South. “Using special needs children as a ploy, that’s a whole different level of scum.”

Legitimate website?

The website, aaronff.org, claims to belong to the Aaron Family Foundation. ProPublica.org posted multiple tax documents linked to the foundation, but a person who answered the phone number listed on documents claimed to not represent the foundation.

“It sounded like it made sense,” the Mississippi mother said. “The webpage looks real.”

The website claims to provide financial assistance to families of special needs children. However, the “partners” listed on this specific website do not appear to be legitimate. Scammers might have even taken photos from the Health Share of Oregon website.

“It looks like from what we can see, they used four photos from board members and made up names,” a spokesman for the Health Share of Oregon told FOX13.

While reviewing the site with the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South, FOX13 noticed questionable details. The phone number’s area code was in Boston, but the physical address was in California. Bayview Avenue exists in Belvedere, California, but “156 Baybiew Ave” does not.

“It doesn’t seem legit based on what we’re finding,” Irwin said. “Keep in mind. These scams aren’t necessarily designed to get your money. This would be out to get your personal information.”

Fears about identity theft

The Mississippi mother worries her information may have been compromised. After applying online, she was told to provide a bank statement, proof of income and a driver’s license in order to receive an extra $2,000 a month.

“It just wasn’t adding up,” she said. “It wasn’t adding up.”

After being told she had to download external software, she demanded to speak to someone on the phone. The young mother said the person on the other end sounded like a robot.

“I immediately hung up,” she said. “I deleted the app they told me to download. I deleted all the emails.”

While she ultimately decided to close that bank account, the mother said she remained deeply troubled that a scammer would target a family with special needs.

“We didn’t lose anything, but you prey on special needs children and their mothers?” she asked. “It disgusted me, because I really had plans for that money for my kid.”