A local resident was nearly scammed by a fake JCP&L representative, but luckily, he knew how to protect himself.
The resident, who realized it was a scam and played along, told TLS the conversation went as follows:
Call from 732-456-7255.
Scammers: Hi, is this <name>? I am calling from JCP&L Notifications Department. We have received a work order to disconnect you electric services.
Me: Why? My account is up to date!
Scammers: You will need to reach out to the Billings Department at 800-658-8064 and clear up any issues.
I called the 800 #. They copied the JCP&L greeting and it sounds very legit.
Billing Dept: Good morning, JCP&L billing dept, how may I help you?
ME: I just receive a call that my service will be disconnected. But it’s up to date?!
Billing Dept: Our records show you have an outstanding balance of $673.50.
ME: Can I pay by credit card?
Billing: No. You can only pay cash using one of our many kiosks. When you’re there with cash in hand, we will send you a special account QR code to scan. That will link to your account. This must be done within the next 20 minutes or your service will be disconnected! We will open an investigation and if you over paid in error, we will reimburse you.
He told me the closest kiosk is at 2796 Hooper Ave, Brick. That’s a convenience store with a bitcoin ATM machine.
Here is why this scam is well executed.
1. The first guy had me call the 800 # that sounded exactly like I’m calling JCP&L.
2. The Billing Dept guy was able to look up my service address (Home) by my cell phone number. (google)
3. He only asked me for $673.50, not thousands of dollars.
4. He assured me that he’ll reimburse if this payment is in error.
5. Keep me on the phone. Do not hang up. I will help you. I want to make sure that the funds credit and satisfy you account and that your service is not disconnected. If you hang up then I can’t guarantee you the fund get to YOUR account.
Here are some flags indicating it’s a scam:
1. I can’t pay with cc. Only cash. This is the biggest give away.
2. I was being led to a convenience store with a bitcoin ATM machine.
3. He did not allow me to hang up. He may be afraid I’ll call someone.
4. Rush! Time is of the essence.