As a new business owner in Easthampton, Anup Sangar keeps long hours and the lights on Gloria of India on Union Street. That’s why he panicked when a woman named “Melissa” called pretending to be from WMECO.
“She just called me at the restaurant around 1 o’clock (and said) ‘we are going to close your electric and shut down the electric within 24 hour if you don’t pay this amount,’” Sangar said.
So Sangar became worried and purchased pre-paid debit cards, called the woman back at 866-438-0242, and paid her $831 dollars. Just a few days later ABC40 called Melissa at the same number to see where the money went, but the phone was disconnected. Easthampton Police are still investigating the incident but are running into the same challenges.
“It’s extremely difficult,” Sgt. Bruce Nicol said. “I mean these people know what they are doing obviously. They wouldn’t be doing it.”
They usually are out of the country too. Nicol says they will typically see a spree of three or four victims of the same scam, before the perpetrators switch their fake companies. No matter what line someone gives you, Nicol says there’s one thing to remember:
“When someone calls you on the phone looking for money, never give out your date of birth, your social security number, account numbers, bank account numbers. Anything like that,” he said. “99.9 % of the time, it’s going to be some sort of scam.”
When in doubt, call police. WMECO says they never, ever do business by asking for immediate payment over the phone. It’s a painful lesson Sangar has learned, to the tune of over $800.
WMECO also adds that public utility companies all across the company are dealing with the same type of scam.