By Liz Wood 

Power scam

Check before making a payment


Jason Campbell received a phone call at 3:30 p.m., Jan. 6 with a threat to turn off his power at 4:30 p.m. if he didn’t pay his Carbon Power & Light (CP&L) bill.

The caller identified himself as Matthew from Carbon Power & Light.

“I was pretty nonchalant,” Campbell said. Matthew told Campbell the bill was overdue and that the company had sent two notices for your business at 101 E. Bridge St.

“That kind of sent up some red flags,” Campbell said. “The beautiful thing about having an electric co-op and knowing everybody and knowing that CP&L would never in a bazillion years come in and shut down the power of a business. We just know that is not how they operate.”

Campbell said he did not give the caller a chance to go on, he asked Matthew his phone number and said he would call him back. “He said, yeah, of course, I am glad you asked, I was just going to give you that,” Matthew told Campbell.

Campbell took the phone number. Another red flag for Campbell was the fact the Caller ID said unknown and if it had been Carbon Power & Light, the local number would have shown up on the Caller ID.

Campbell called the number and the automated answering service said, “Thank you for calling CP&L.”

After checking with his wife D’Ron and his mother, Kathy, the Hotel Wolf’s bookkeepers, ensuring the Wolf’s bill had in fact been paid, Campbell contacted CP&L at their local phone number and discovered that other business people in the Platte Valley and Albany County had been contacted as well and it was a scam.

“We have a process we go through,” Joe Parrie said of collecting overdue electric bills. “Our members are fully aware if we are going to disconnect them. We send several notices,”

Campbell said the advantage of living in a small town is when a person gets a call like this, it isn’t successful because there is a local contact.

“It was smooth … and fairly elaborate with the watts line,” Campbell said.

The Saratoga Sun called the number on Jan. 7. The automated answering service identified the company as Sweat Co. The extension identified it as George Callison’s extension, which on Tuesday it was Matthew’s extension, according to Campbell. The Saratoga Sun asked for Matthew and was connected to a “Matthew”.

The Saratoga Sun told Matthew they had received a news tip that he was calling on behalf of CP&L and threatening to shut off their power unless the bill was paid.

Mathew replied “That’s not true, why would I do that?” Matthew then said, “He’s mistaken, he dialed this number in error.”

Thursday morning, the Saratoga Sun called the very same phone number and the automatic answering service identified the company as Duke Energy Carolinas. Duke Energy is a utility company with offices in Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Florida.

Friday, the Saratoga Sun called the number again and the automatic answering service identified the company and Indianapolis Power & Light Company.

“We don’t have any recourse,” Parrie said. “So the member would still have to pay their electric bill.”

Parrie’s concern is if this is happening to businesses, then individuals could be targeted next and they may not know to contact the local number first.

Campbell said he knew if the call was legitimate, he had an hour to rectify it.

“For as sophisticated as (the scam) seemed, I don’t know if they really understand the way things work around here,” Campbell said.

Carbon County Sheriff Jerry Colson said if anyone receives a call demanding money, contact the Sheriff’s office and they can check the legitimacy of the call.


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