Cincinnati woman falls victim to Duke phone scam

Posted at 6:22 PM, Jan 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-26 18:27:18-05

Duke Energy is issuing an alert about a scam that is making a big return in 2016.

Scammers, pretending to be Duke Energy workers, have just conned a restaurant owner out of $200, and they could target you next.

The manager of the latest restaurant to fall victim to this phone scam is so embarrassed, she did not want us to identify her or the eatery, other than saying it is on the north side of Cincinnati.

She fell victim to a phone scam, after a caller -- claiming to be with Duke Energy -- told her "the electric was going to be shut off, disconnected within 30 minutes."

How the Scam Works

She panicked.  "I told him the check had already been mailed out," the manager said. "But they told me there was nothing they could do about it, and that I had to make a payment."

Last summer, the owner of another area restaurant -- the Shamrock Pub in Addyston, Ohio -- was targeted by the scam, but fortunately did not send money.

In this latest case, the caller said the restaurant could keep the power on if they paid the bill immediately.

"The bill was $1,300 and I was just frantic, I wasn't thinking," the manager said.

But the caller said he would take just $200 to keep the power on, so she sent $200 via a prepaid debit card.

Duke Issues Warning

Duke's Energy spokeswoman Sally Thelen says unfortunately, the manager was scammed, and that neither Duke nor the police can recover the money sent.

Remember this: Your utility will never call or come to your home threatening immediate disconnection.

"We're never going to call and say we're going to disconnect you within an hour to two hours," she said.

If you ever receive a call threatening disconnection:

  • Hang up and call Duke's main customer service number.  
  • Do not call the number the caller provides you, as it will go right back to the scammers.

That way you don't waste your money.