Police warn of utility disconnection scam

300-SAPD-CAR-HCNThe St Augustine Police Department informed Historic City News that they have received three separate complaints from local businesses who have been contacted by a man who fraudulently claims to represent Florida Power and Light Company.

In each of the three complaints, the caller identified themselves as “Steven Martinez” however; FPL has no record of an employee by that name working for them in the St Augustine area.

According to the incident reports, the caller asks to speak to the manager so that he can warn them of an impending service disconnect order that will leave them without electricity “within the next hour” because the FPL bill is past due.

Stating that the business can only avoid the interruption, along with hefty disconnect and reconnect charges, if the past due amount is paid immediately, the scammer suggests the victim go directly to the closest CVS, Walmart or Walgreens store to purchase a money transfer card for the claimed amount and to provide the cash card identification number to him over the telephone.

The telephone number used by the FPL impersonator is a NEXTEL cell phone issued in the Jacksonville market. Police spokesman Mark Samson reported that the businesses, in these three cases, did not forward any money.

“Most customers, especially business customers, know the status of their utility bill and if they are having trouble making their monthly payments,” an FPL payment center spokesperson told Historic City News. “We offer a free, secure, online way to pay your bill – right away – using your bank account; you will receive an immediate confirmation number followed by a confirmation e-mail.”

Samson suggests that, if you receive a call about your electric service bill, take down the telephone number of the caller. Then, if you are a business customer, call toll free 800-395-2434 to verify payments, charges, and the collection status of your account; or, if you are a residential customer, call 800-226-3545.

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