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Two Businesses Zapped by Bogus Callers in Electricity Scam

Published On: Oct 09 2013 11:25:43 AM AKDT
Two Businesses Zapped by Bogus Callers in Electricity Scam

An electrical cooperative serving Interior and Western Alaska says some business owners have been shocked by a recent scam, in which callers pretending to be with the utility demand money to keep the power on.

According to the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, two businesses have reported the scam in the last week. One of the bogus callers was a man's voice and the other a woman's, but both of the businesses said their caller had a foreign accent -- and showed up as AVEC on their phones' caller ID.

One of the callers instructed the owner of a restaurant to go to Walmart and get a cash card for $500, promising to call back later and get the card number -- instructions the restaurant owner followed.

The cooperative's CEO, Meera Kohler, says clients of Anchorage utilities such as Municipal Light and Power or Chugach Electric might soon face the same scam.

"My concern is, if they're doing it using our number, what's to prevent them from using ML&P's number or Chugach's number and going after some really big bucks?" Kohler said.

Kohler called her phone service provider and the police -- moves which Assistant Attorney Gneral Cynthia Drinkwater calls the first step toward catching the scammers.

"Whether it's a small business or a person at home, if they received a phone call that threatens some kind of dire action if they pay immediately or make their credit card available, that should raise some suspicions," Drinkwater said.

Both law enforcement and the attorney general's office deal with phone scams every year, but Drinkwater admits it's hard to catch them because most of them originate from out of state.

Contact Garrett Turner: