The scam begins with a phone call purportedly from Jersey Central Power and Light Company. The alleged representative informs the victim that they are delinquent on their monthly bill and that power would be shut off within hours unless they made payment over the phone. The victims are instructed to purchase “Green Dot” cards in the amount of the payment that is due and then either enter the payment information on a website or call back the suspects.
Green Dot cards can be purchased at numerous local retail establishments. They allow the purchaser to “pre pay” money onto the cards which can then be used to debit the accounts electronically.
“In the last week we have had four reports of this incident occurring, three businesses and one residential homeowner were contacted by phone,” the Department said. “The criminals were only successful one time. We are working with the power company to apprehend any suspects and they state that this is a nationwide scam that uses local phone numbers, which give the scam an appearance of legitimacy. Residents are urged to never make a payment over the phone unless they are the ones initiating the call and utilizing a phone number that appears on your monthly billing statement.”