SHALIMAR, Fla., Dec. 5, 2018—A Fort Walton Beach businessman is out nearly $2,000 after con artists tricked him with a utility scam.
The con artists somehow got their hands on an actual overdue past Gulf Power bill and mailed it to him, telling him to pay up immediately or face having his electricity turned off.
He followed the directions to obtain pre-paid MoneyPak cards and send the numbers to make the payment.
The scammers also followed up the letter with a phone call from a 1-800 number.
The businessman realized after the fact that the overdue bill had actually been paid in October; however he had already sent the pre-paid card numbers.
A deputy with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office looking into the scam called the 1-800 number.
Once he informed the person on the other end that he was a deputy sheriff, the man, who had a very heavy foreign accent, immediately hung up the phone.
How con artists were able to get a copy of an actual overdue bill is not known, but the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office wants to make residents aware of this new twist on an old scheme which focuses on threatening to turn off customers’ power for unpaid or overdue bills.
The OCSO reminds people to beware of any unsolicited contacts asking for personal or account information, or of any entity asking for payment in prepaid money or gift cards.