SOUTHEASTERN, NC (WECT) – Officials in southeastern, North Carolina are warning residents and business owners about a scam alert targeting Duke/Progress Energy Utility customers.
The owner of Shirley's Diner in Leland says he got a phone call from someone who claimed to work for Duke/Progress Energy, asking for bill money, but as it turned out, it was all a scam.
According to law enforcement, people and businesses have reported receiving phone calls that claim their electricity bill will be turned off within hours unless they make an immediate payment by a prepaid debit card, called a "green dot card."
Shirley's Diner owner, Barry Jethwa says he nearly fell for it. He even went to Walmart to purchase the prepaid debit cards. It was there when he realized that it was all a scam.
According to a spokesperson for the company, Duke/Progress Energy never contacts customers to demand a prepaid debit card payment.
So far, several business owners in the greater Wilmington area have been the target of this scam.
Now, Jethwa is making it his mission to prevent other businesses from falling victim.
"I'm doing this to help other restaurants. We all have to stick together," said Jethwa. "If something happens in your restaurant, please let me know and if something happens in my restaurant, I'll let you know or even if something like this happens to anybody."
Jethwa says he knows of at least two other businesses in the Castle Hayne area that actually did fall victim to this scam. Businesses aren't the only targets. Law enforcement is also warning folks to be aware of scam artists looking to take advantage of the elderly.
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