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Brazil business owner falls victim to phone scam

Another scam is hitting the Wabash Valley, and this time it's targeting business owners.

Posted: Mar. 8, 2018 4:40 PM
Updated: Mar. 8, 2018 6:34 PM

BRAZIL, Ind. (WTHI) - Another scam is hitting the Wabash Valley, and this time it's targeting business owners.

Scammers are becoming more and more brave, finding out where business owners operate, and how they can steal their money.

John DeWeese Senior from John & John Associates in Brazil says he fell victim to a scam on Wednesday morning.

"She said 'This is just a courtesy call, but we are letting you know that your electric is about ready to be shut off today'," said DeWeese.

A notice from someone who claimed to represent Duke Energy.

The person on the phone said DeWeese's company would soon lose all power if he didn't pay right away.

DeWeese was afraid of what could happen to his business, so he immediately paid the $800 they had asked for.

Normally, his secretary would have taken care of the bills. She would have known if they were overdue.

However, his secretary was not at work that day, so he had no way of knowing for sure.

The scammers were brave enough to call back within an hour, saying DeWeese owed even more money.

"'You're going to need to pay us about another $2700', and I said, 'Oh my gosh'," said DeWeese.

DeWeese went back to the bank to withdraw the money to pay.

"About that time it dawned on me, and I looked at her and I said, 'I'm getting scammed'," said DeWeese.

Rick Burger from Duke Energy says the company does not call for money.

"Duke Energy never calls up and says 'We demand a payment now or you're going to be shut off'," said Burger.

Burger also says customers will receive a notice by mail or e-mail if their bill is overdue.

If you do get a call like this, it's important to call Duke Energy yourself and make sure.

"I'd just say 'Okay give me ten to fifteen minutes and call me back'. They may not call you back, or if they do, at least you're going to check with us and confirm. Most of the time it's going to be a scam," said Burger.

DeWeese said while falling victim is upsetting, it served as an important reminder for others.

"It hurt knowing that I lost eight hundred bucks at the moment," said DeWeese.

Duke Energy offers a hotline you can call if you are questioning a call.

That number is 1-800-521-2232.

It's also important to report a scam to local law enforcement.

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