Channel 11 is committed to keeping viewers safe, alerting you to any new scams that could try to swindle you out of money. When we heard about a phone call in the North Hills targeting a local business, we wanted to find out more.
Mary Masa answers the phone dozens of times each day, scheduling appointments at Richard Cardone's hair salon in Ross Township. One recent call sticks in her mind.
"When I looked at the phone it said Duquesne Light Company," Masa recalled. "It was their regular number. I picked it up and on the other end was a man who said that we didn't pay the bill."
Masa says she pays the bills for the salon and was sure she had paid for the last two months. She called her boss over for help.
"He kept insisting, you owe the money and they're on their way to shut the electric off," Cardone remembers the caller saying.
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Masa's husband works for Channel 11. She's seen stories about phone scams before on the news, so she started getting suspicious.
"They wanted $1,298 from us and they wanted it in cash," Masa said. "So obviously there were some pretty big red flags going on."
Not only did they want the bill paid it cash, they told her where to pay it: at a local mini-mart.
"While she was on with them I went to another phone, called Duquesne Light, put the account number in, and it came back that there was zero balance owed," Cardone said.
That's when they knew they were being scammed. Utility scams like these aren't new, but demanding the bill be paid in cash at a certain location is a new twist in our area. Ross Township police told the salon several other people had reported getting the same call, and demands, just recently. Mary told us this scam seemed so sophisticated, she could easily see people getting tricked by it.
"It was actually, the most legitimate scare tactic I've ever experienced," Masa said.
If you think you are being scammed, experts say to call the company the scammer is pretending to be to confirm what is happening. You can report scams to the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office.
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