Deputies investigate new version of utility shutoff scam - FOX Carolina 21

Deputies investigate new version of utility shutoff scam

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A brazen scam artist has put a new spin on a notorious scam plaguing the Upstate, and has targeted at least one Upstate business.

Duke Energy and various local law enforcement agencies have issued warnings about an ongoing scam involving unknown suspects who call victims claiming to be Duke Energy collection agents who threaten to shut off the victim's electricity if the victims do not provide immediate payment with a prepaid shopping card. Duke said the utility company sends cancellation notices by mail and never requires instant payment via credit or shopping cards to maintain service.

According to a Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office incident report, a man successfully pulled off a similar scam in person at a convenience store.

Deputies said they were called to the El Viamante store on Asheville Highway on Saturday afternoon in reference to a fraud complaint.

An employee told deputies that a man walked up to the cash register around 1 p.m. and said he was a Duke Energy Employee, according to reports.

The suspect said the power was in danger of being cut off because no payment had been received and handed the employee a door hanger bearing the Duke Energy logo and the words "urgent notice" printed above where the date, a confirmation code and an amount of $140 had been scrawled by hand, according to reports.

Deputies said the suspect also had paperwork with the store owner's information on it that he presented to the clerk and claimed the shutoff could be averted if the store paid him while he was on site.

The clerk handed over $140 and the man took off, according to reports. The clerk then called Duke Energy, and the utility company advised her that she had been swindled and advised her to call deputies.

Deputies said the suspect has not been identified and that they were unable to get surveillance video of the crime.

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