Saturday, October 25, 2014

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NY1 For You: Scammers Target Seniors With Phony Con Ed Threat

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A local senior group is trying to get the word out about a scam they believe is targeting the elderly. NY1's Susan Jhun filed the following "NY1 For You" report.

"You are gonna have your lights and gas turned off in one hour if you don't act immediately," recalls Seniors Helping Seniors Center Director Roberta Tournour.

That was the hook for a scam volunteers came across while trying to assist an 83-year-old woman responding to a call supposedly from Con Edison. The caller asked her to pay $300 immediately to avoid having her electricity shut off in an hour.

"They said, 'Well do you have a debit card or credit card?' 'No.' 'Oh, go to a local Rite Aid or a CVS pharmacy and get a MoneyPak and then call us back with the numbers on the back,'" says Tournour.

The volunteer helping the elderly lady was alerted to the scam by the cashier at the pharmacy then called Con Ed.

"Con Edison was aware of this, the pharmacies were aware of it, whose telling people?" says Tournour.

Con Ed does have a warning about this scam on its website. A spokesman told NY1 if customers receive a call from someone they don't trust, urging them to make a payment to Con Ed, they should hang up and call Con Ed back at 1-800-752-6633.

The Con Ed spokesman went on to say the company has received reports from hundreds of customers who were contacted by these scammers. To be clear, he said Con Ed does not authorize payments of electric or gas bills by pre-paid debit cards such as MoneyPaks.

It's a warning the senior group hopes will help people avoid a huge hassle.

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