Belmont business man almost gets scammed by fraud pretending to be employee of Duke Energy

(Bria Bell/WBTV)
(Bria Bell/WBTV)
(Bria Bell/WBTV)
(Bria Bell/WBTV)

BELMONT, NC (WBTV) - You could be at the end of a scam if you're not careful.

According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers are constantly calling home and business owners claiming that you may be late on utility payments.

One business owner in Belmont was almost a victim. He's sharing his story so you know what to do if a scammer calls your phone demanding money.

About 100 students attend Newbridge Children's Academy. It's a Christian-based school that's partly run by Jason Heller.

Everyday he's in and out of meetings, taking phone calls, the typical hustle and bustle of a business owner.

"A little crazy, that's the best way to describe it. It's a lot of fun," Heller adds.

Fun is the last word Heller would describe a recent phone call he received from an alleged scammer.

"Literally screwed up my whole afternoon or morning because I was driving around trying to figure this out."

On the other end of Heller's phone was a man claiming to be from Duke Energy.

Heller says, at first, the call seemed so professional and real.

"He asked my name, I told him. I told him the business name and [the scammer] starts reading back to me the address and the phone number, so to me I'm thinking this is legit."

The man pretending to be from the energy company threatened to shut off power at the school and that's when Heller says he went into frantic mode.

"This is a school with 100 kids, I cant have the power cut off. I'll give you my credit card right now, I want to pay it."

The fraud Duke Energy employee wanted cash and to meet at a CVS for the payment, that's when a light bulb went off for Heller.

"I googled Duke Energy and that's when I got customer service and she said do not pay that, she said that is the biggest fraud," Heller said.

Heller was able to confirm with Duke Energy that he was up-to-date on all payments, but knowing scammers are always out seeking their next victim whether it be a business or homeowner, it doesn't sit right with him.

"It was a lesson, that's for sure."

Heller says Duke Energy is taking his claim up with the FBI.

The Better Business Bureau says the best thing you can do in this type of situation is to not give in to that sense of urgency. Tell the caller that you'd like to verify the billing issue before making any payment, hang up and call Duke Energy directly. Don't call the number on your caller ID, call the number on your bill or on the Duke Energy website. That representative can tell you if there's actually a problem with your account.

Energy companies typically communicate with its customers via mail first, so if you get a call seemingly out of the blue, that should be a huge red flag.

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