PHONE CALL AND A MAN WITH A “BEER GUT” TRY UTILITY SCAM.
Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard reports his office investigated a suspicious occurrence on July 12 at a veterinarian’s office in the Town of Clarence. Deputy Kolmetz spoke with a doctor associated with the business, and they detailed how the business received a call from a female who identified herself as “Amanda.” The female claimed to be a representative from New York State Electric and Gas, and she was attempting to collect an outstanding balance of $1,400.00. The caller also stated she would send a worker to the facility to turn off the meter if the balance is not paid. A short time later, a balding male with a “beer gut” who was wearing a high visibility yellow shirt arrived and walked around the building multiple times but never entered the facility. The male returned to a white Nissan pickup truck with a roof light and waited in the vehicle. The caller then advised the doctor to proceed to a Rite Aid location and call 1-844-335-0964 to receive further instruction on how to pay the bill; Deputy Kolmetz learned that Rite Aid locations do not accept utility payments. The Deputy called the number numerous times and was either hung up on or directed to an automated answering service which mimics NYSEG’s system. Sheriff Timothy Howard is warning residents and businesses not to follow the scam artists’ instructions and to call the phone number printed on your utility bill to make proper inquiries before making any payments. Additionally, the Sheriff cautions everyone that individuals are posing as collection agents for utilities or governments and often ask their intended victims to pay an outstanding balance or fine by using a pre-paid credit card or Green Dot card; this should be an indication of a scam. If anyone observes or has had contact with a male matching the provided description who is driving a white Nissan pickup truck with a roof light is asked to contact the Erie County Sheriff’s Office at 858.2903 or their local police department. Also, residents are advised to contact their utility provider before making any payment via Green Dot cards or pre-paid credit cards.