Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

Opticare Vision/Express Mobile Transport

Monday, September 24, 2018

Colonel De Targeted by Complex, Sophisticated Duke Energy Scam

By Jessie Stringfield-Eden

Colonel De and Mrs. Colonel De are warning others to beware of an unusually complex Duke Energy scam regarding a $1,400 past due bill and threats to remove electrical meters. This scam involved multiple phone calls and lasted throughout the day on Aug. 22.

It was a seemingly normal week for Colonel De and his business but as he was working at the Farmers Market on Wednesday, Aug. 22, Colonel De received a phone call on his cell from an unknown number. Worried that it may be a call he was waiting on, he answered.

Upon answering, a man ‘from Duke Energy’ claimed that he was parked in the lot of Colonel De’s and was prepared to remove the business’ electric meter if they did not pay their ‘past due bill of $1,400’. The man claimed that if they did not pay and bring their account with Duke up to date, the person waiting in the parking lot would enter the building and remove the electrical meter promptly.

Knowing that their bill was up to date, this confused Colonel De so he hung up...but then he received a text message with the same demand to pay the bill, a strange code to pull up the account and a phone number to call in order to pay the bill.

The strangest part — Colonel De’s cell phone is not associated with their Duke Energy account...they use a different number for their electric bill.

To be safe, Colonel De promptly got on the phone with his staff to make sure someone was at the restaurant and store to make sure no one tried to enter the space. It was then that he found out that a similar call had been received at the restaurant earlier that day but a staff member, knowing the bill was paid, had dismissed them and told them they had the wrong number.

Colonel De then called Mrs. Colonel De, Susan Stewart, who manages the utility bills for both the restaurant and the spice shop, to see if she could figure out what the issue was. Upon triple checking, both accounts were indeed up to date so she called the number back in the text message...but not without some investigating.

“I did a reverse look up for the number to see if it was a scam number but it didn’t come up,” she said. “I’ve had scam calls before...but this one was very sophisticated.”

After a quick conversation with the individual (who could not provide her the account number), she hung up and called Duke Energy. A representative from Duke verified that all accounts for Colonel De’s businesses were indeed up to date and that no payment was due. The Duke representative documented their experience and was extremely helpful and the De family encourages others to just deal with Duke. “Don’t give them your info,” said Mrs. Colonel De, “Just go directly through Duke.”

Lieutenant Brent Moening of the Fort Thomas Police Department was able to give us some additional information on this type of scam. “This has been a common scam plaguing businesses and residents all over the area for many years,” said Lieutenant Moening. “We will typically get a lot of calls about this scam, then it gets quiet for a while.  We believe the scammers will hit the area, then wait a few months and strike again.”

Lieutenant Moening encourages residents to verify identity if they feel uncomfortable with the individual claiming to be from Duke Energy.

“We tell residents to never give personal information over the telephone.  If a company like Duke Energy is calling , they will already have this information. If someone represents themselves as a Duke employee, and is at your door, you can call Duke at 1-800-544-6900 to verify this person is really an employee of Duke.” 

If residents feel strongly that the individual/s are not affiliated with Duke yet claim to be, Office Moening encourages that they call the police. Duke Energy also encourages all customers to report any possible scams.
Please visit their “Report Scams” page to ensure that you are protected from these kinds of scams and to report potential imposters.

No comments:

Post a Comment