New Electric Company Scammers Targeting Tulsa Businesses

Wednesday, January 22nd 2014, 10:37 pm
By: News On 6

It's a scam that is virtually unsolvable and 15 Tulsa businesses have already lost money because of it.

A caller claims to be with the electric company, tells you, "Your service is going to be shut off immediately," unless you, "make a payment on the spot."

The victims are smart, capable business owners, but, the scammers sound professional and legit and play on your emotions by using that sense of urgency.

Brad Berry's Corn Popper business keeps him busy, so when he got a call from someone last Saturday, claiming to A.E.P, and saying his electricity would be shut off that day, he took notice.

"We didn't receive the payment and you need to get it taken care of today or going to shut off your electricity," that's what Berry was told by the scammers.

He dug out his checkbook and called the 800 number they'd given him. They told him the $311 payment had never made it so he should go put the money on a green dot card and call them back with the card number.

"They said, do not go through payments for utilities because it wouldn't be credited until Monday and my electricity would've been shut off by then."

He did all that, then, started thinking later, something was off.

"I felt stupid, like I fell for something that I try not too or try to watch out for," Berry said.

That's when he noticed the small warning on his electric bill about this very scam. He says the scammers sounded professional, put him on hold with music playing and a recording told him he was the next caller.

Police say that's all part of how they pull in victims.

Detective Mathias Wicks, with the Tulsa Police Department, said, "They're producing 800 numbers with extension numbers to make you believe it's an actual company."

He said, never call the number they give you, only call the local customer service number on your actual bill. Plus, you'll get plenty of written shut off warnings and the only way to pay your utility bill is directly to your utility company.

They don't want to see any other businesses lose their hard earned money, which is why Berry shared his story.

"To keep it from happening to other people, and to be aware of it," said Berry.

Police say these crimes and unsolvable because the scammers aren't local, and once your money is gone, it's gone.

While Berry was out $311, police said other businesses got hit for a thousand or more.