Thieves targeting utility customers in Central Florida

Thieves targeting utility customers in Central Florida

Posted: Updated:
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

Police and officials at Florida Power and Light (FPL) warn customers to be on the lookout for callers claiming you have unpaid bills or problems with your service.  FPL has received dozens of calls from customers reporting such incidents.

One Daytona Beach victim is out hundreds of dollars.  Tammy Kozinski owns Sweet Marlay's coffee shop and says she was taken for more than 800 bucks by a caller claiming he would shut off power to her business if she didn't pay up quickly. 

"They had said, 'You need to call tomorrow and pay the balance off.'  They said I owed over $2,000, which knowing how my electric bills here are, with the ovens going and coolers going, a couple months, that's reasonable."

The caller wanted her to send $1,500.  She told him that wasn't possible, so he offered to lower it to $800.  Kozinski says the call came at the busiest time of year for her, and she was behind in paperwork.  So, she believed him.  She did as he asked, went to a store where you can open a pre-paid debit card, put $800 on it, then called the schemer back, and gave him the numbers-and access to all the money.

According to FPL's website,  phone scammers posing as their employees are targeting customers across in their 35-county service area and are using false phone numbers that could appear on a caller ID to belong to FPL.

The FPL website warns, "They then threaten to shut the power off unless a payment is made immediately with a credit card or prepaid Money Pak card.  These calls are not from FPL. We will never call and ask for credit card info or take prepaid cards as payment. In fact, we do not ask for any personal information from you unless you initiate the contact."

FPL recommends that if you ever receive a strange call and are in doubt, to hang up and call the phone number listed at the bottom of your FPL bill. 

Authorities have been notified of this scam.   If you think you may have been a victim, call the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services at 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-435-7352).

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