Scam Tries To Lure Co-Op Members From Home
By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff Writer Published: June 3rd, 2014
Most scams targeting electric cooperative members revolve around separating them from their hard-earned cash. But in Wisconsin, there's a new scam that apparently targets their homes and belongings.
An electric cooperative member was the target of scammers who apparently wanted her to leave her house.
Dunn Energy Cooperative recently received a call from a member asking if the co-op was doing any work in her area. Marketing and member services representative Jolene Neisius checked, told the caller the answer was no, and wondered why she was asking.
"She said that she had just received a call from 'her electric provider'—they didn't use a name—telling her that she had alarmingly high electric usage," Neisius recalled.
"They told her it was enough to power an amusement park, and she needed to leave her house immediately so they could check the power lines coming into the house."
Fortunately, the member didn't believe them.
"She hung up and called the sheriff's department first," Neisius said. "They did a little investigating. The caller had spoofed a phone number, making it look like they were calling from our area, but the phone number itself was no good when they called it back."
The woman then called Dunn Energy to let the co-op know what happened.
Investigators suspect the callers were looking to get the woman out of the house in order to rob it. Neisius said this is the only such call that has been reported to Menomonie-based Dunn Energy, which advises its members to check anything they believe to be suspicious—even if it really is the co-op calling.
"We always tell our members it won't hurt our feelings if you politely hang up and call us back at the number you feel comfortable calling us at to verify the call," Neisius said.