Latest phone scam threatens to turn off power



PITTSBURGH - Our viewers have alerted us to several phone schemes over the past few weeks.  This latest scheme threatens to turn off your power.  Channel 11's Katherine Amenta met one woman who refused to be duped.

Mary Lou Shenot could have been talking to us as the victim of a power company phone scheme.  Instead, she picked up on the bogus signs and even took matters into her own hands.

“It was just a scary thing,” said Shenot.  “The man said we were being shut off because of lack of payment.”

And that wasn't just power to her house; it was for her entire family farm and market in Marshall Township.

“It was instant panic,” said Shenot.

The caller, who identified himself only as Michael, told Mary Lou to buy two pre-paid debit cards for $1,000 from Walgreens and call back with the ID numbers.

It already sounded suspicious, but then, he made his big mistake.

“We have Penn Power,” said Shenot. “He told me he was West Penn.”

Then, Mary Lou actually called his bluff.

“It was fine with me if he would just shut the electricity off,” she told the caller.

Michael hung up.

Mary Lou was very pleased with the outcome. 

“I’d love to call them again,” admitted Shenot.

She did call back a few times over the past week and while we were there, Michael actually answered.

She told him, “I did take a check down to the company and we were able to get it back on.”

Michael sounded confused, said, "that's wonderful" and hung up again.

“Just be very careful and think twice,” Shenot advises others.  “Think it through because chances are, the slightest little thing can be a scam.”

Penn Power told us that it's aware of this scheme and its company would never call a customer and demand immediate payment.