NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Area businesses are being warned not for fall for a scam targeting their electricity accounts.
At least one business owner fell for the con in which someone calls up claiming to be from National Grid and threatens to turn off the electricity unless the victim pays through GreenDot MoneyPak payment cards.
Williamstown Police Chief Kyle Johnson said four business owners have already contacted him about the scam, which has been floating around at least since this past April.
National Grid, in a press release, said it has "received numerous calls from electric customers saying they have been contacted by phone by individuals claiming to be from National Grid and advising the customers they have a past due balance on their utility bill."
The utility notes that is does contact customers with overdue accounts to offer payment options, "but never demands direct payment over the telephone."
Colleen Taylor of the Freight Yard Pub was contacted by the scammers on Tuesday morning and immediately brought it to the attention of Johnson and iBerkshires and gave us the scammer's number at 801-850-6225 in Provo, Utah. The number appears to be routed through Ymax Communications Corp., purveyors of the magicJack phone service.
We called and spoke first with a man named Mike Wallace who sent us to his "supervisor" Jason Roberts.
Roberts informed us that we needed to purchase those GreenDot cards to pay our bill because the technicians "have a van with every single customer's information, credit card, Social Security, checking routing number, so on and so forth" and if it got stolen, the thief would have all our information.
That's why if there's an hour cancelation they won't accept a check or cash payment.
No, that doesn't make any sense, but the scammers do talk a good line trying to make it sound reasonable. Really, if your utility asks you to go buy some money card at Cumberland Farms — hang up.
National Grid says to call its Customer Contact Center at 1-800-322-3223 if you receive any suspicious calls demanding account information or immediate payment. Western Massachusetts Electric Co. is also aware of the scam, which hit the Springfield area in July. WMECo customers can call 1-877-OK- WMECo.
After getting off the phone with Mr. Roberts, Charles Anderson of the "National Grid Disconnect Department" called us back, saying a technician would arrive at 2 p.m. to disconnect us. We can't wait.
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