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AG warns of telephone scam targeting power customers

Posted November 24, 2014

Attorney General Roy Cooper
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— North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper on Monday warned residents about a telephone scam in which a caller threatens to disconnect power unless a payment is made immediately.

The scammers target customers of Duke Energy and other utilities, often manipulating caller ID to make it appear legitimate.

Cooper said the scams increase during colder weather. So far this year, 42 consumers and small business owners have reported receiving scam calls to the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division. They’ve lost a combined total of $7,500.

“Scammers continue to make calls threatening consumers and small businesses to pay up or lose power, and we’re concerned that the cold weather will give their threats extra force,” he said in a statement.

A representative from Duke Energy said the utility is aware of the scam and is working with law enforcement and industry partners to combat the problem.

During the call, consumers are told to make the payment using a reloadable debit card such as a Green Dot MoneyPak card. Victims purchase the card, load it with funds and then call the phony utility employee back to provide the card number needed to access the money.

Those who have become victims of the scam this year include a Durham restaurant that lost $700, a Raleigh shop that lost $500, a Clayton deli and grocery that lost $813, a Charlotte spa that lost $495, and a restaurant in Oriental that lost more than $2,500.

Duke Energy said company representatives will not ask delinquent customers to pay with a prepaid debit card. Customers can make payments online, by phone, by automatic bank draft or in person.
Anyone who gets a suspected scam call should hang up and report it to the Attorney General’s Office at 1-877-566-7226 (1-877-NO-SCAM) or online.

Duke Energy customers can also report the calls to Duke Energy Progress at 1-800-452-2777 or Duke Energy Carolinas at 1-800-777-9898.


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  • sinenomine Nov 25, 2014

    I've never had this scam pulled on me but the people who call all the time are the ones from somewhere in the third world who claim to be from Microsoft and who want to take control of my computer to fix it. Yeah, sure. My suggestions to them as to the activities in which they should immediately engage upon hanging up the phone could not be repeated on this comment board, or perhaps anywhere.

  • theliberadicator Nov 25, 2014

    The scam is perpetrated every time I open the bill.

    What's Roy doing about that?

  • Wheelman Nov 24, 2014

    Yeah, I got this one a few days ago. Told them to go ahead and turn it off that I heat and cook with gas and nothing good on TV, and I was tired of paying the bill anyway. I told them I would give them my address if they wanted to come over to pick up a check, but they would have to talk to my dog about it first. They started cursing and hung up the phone. I've also been getting them from what sounds like India or somewhere in the Middle East telling me that the IRS is coming to my door in just a couple of minutes to arrest me if I don't pay my back taxes. I just keep going "Who? Who? Who?" and tell them I don't know anybody named Iris that works for the police and they get mad, start screaming and hang up.