Toms River police warned local residents today of a new scam involving a phony letter from Jersey Central Power and Light that fraudulently seeks money for “delinquent” electric bills.
The scam begins with a phone call purportedly from JCP&L, during which the alleged representative informs the victim that they are delinquent on their monthly bill and that power will be shut off within hours unless they made payment over the phone, said police spokesman Ralph Stocco. The victims are then instructed to purchase “Green Dot” cards in the amount of the supposed payment that is due, then either enter the payment information on a website or call back the suspects.
The caller says:
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,” Stocco said. “The criminals were only successful one time.”
Police are working with the power company to apprehend any suspects, but officials say the utility has warned that this is a nationwide scam that uses local phone numbers, which gives the scammers an appearance of legitimacy.
Residents are urged to never make a payment over the phone unless they are the ones initiating the call, utilizing a phone number that appears on a monthly billing statement, Stocco said.