LIPA warns customers about phone scam

Stacey Sager reports from Commack.
November 20, 2013 3:23:44 PM PST
LIPA is warning about a national scam targeting electric customers in our area.

The crooks are calling with a threat to turn off power unless customers pay immediately with a prepaid credit card.

It was a phone call that came in at around 11:30 Tuesday morning at the Red River Inn in Yaphank, and the caller on the other end of the line sounded pretty convincing.

"Identified himself as Carl Winters from LIPA telling us, that if we didn't pay $2,000 immediately, we'd be disconnected from our electricity within the hour," said Vincent LaRocca, the phone call recipient.

It's convincing because the caller had inside knowledge about their account.

"He had all the right information, account number, he even had the account information number from our last payment," LaRocca said.

LIPA put out a statement on its website warning people about the national scam.

They say hundreds of their customers have been complaining about it in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

The caller tells people to run out and get one of those a green-dot Moneypack Cards, you can buy them at Wal-Mart or CVS.

Then, you're told to call back and transfer money off the card immediately.

At first, Vincent almost fell for it. After all, he runs a business and can't afford to lose power, but ultimately he was skeptical.

"We never received anything in the mail and all of a sudden you're going to give us an hour before you shut off power," LaRocca said.

LIPA is also warning customers to never provide your social security number, credit card number, or banking information unless you have initiated the phone call.

So far, 11 customers on Long Island have been fooled.

Vincent feels for them, but has harsh words about the people responsible in this scam.

"They're just not good people, and I believe in karma, they'll get theirs in the end," LaRocca said.