Phone co-op scam targets seniors

September 14, 2013

One of the newer scam ideas being used by crooks has left a Hood County senior citizen’s bank account $800 lighter.

The woman, described in a law enforcement incident report as “elderly,” made what she was led to believe a payment to an electric co-op company that was overdue after she received a phone call. The caller’s claim turned out to be false.

“The customer received a call last week and was told the caller was with United Cooperative Services and she would need to pay her bill or be disconnected,” Hood County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Johnny Rose said. “She told them she had already mailed in a check for the amount of the bill. They told her that for the next two months they were not accepting checks and she would need to make a payment now with a credit card.”

Rose said that the woman gave the caller her credit card number, and later found that there was a charge for $800 on that card. Afterward, the woman became suspicious and reported the incident.

Rose said that such scammers can be hard to track down because many are calling from outside the United States. He said the chances of getting the money back are “pretty slim.”

Rose advised, “Any time somebody is calling you up and asking for money, be suspicious. If they start harassing you, just hang up on them.”

Mauri Montgomery, communications manager for United Cooperative Services, said the next step would be to immediately call your individual customer service number listed on your billing statement to confirm if the call was legitimate. United Coop has seven different offices at various locations in the region.

“Crooks are getting pretty sophisticated with how they treat people,” Montgomery said. “They’re targeting all utility customers. There is a different take on nearly every scam. They seem to be targeting elderly people.”

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