New Money Scam Targets Local Businesses
SAN ANGELO,TEXAS -- The Vape Stop, located at 3714 Sherwood Way, was recently scammed by a person claiming to be an employee of the American Electric Power (AEP) regarding an overdue payment.
“About 3:45 p.m. yesterday, we got call from someone claiming to be with the AEP disconnection center," Darren Corley, owner of The Vape Stop said.
The scammer claimed to have sent three notices regarding an overdue payment on the businesses electricity bill and was threatening to have a technician come and turn off their power if a payment wasn't made by 5p.m. that same day.
Corley recounted that he had called the 800 number several times, with the caller ID matching the AEP disconnection center, however, he was surprised when the same person answered the phone each time.
“After going through a phone queue you speak to one of the representatives there,” Corley said, “what was suspicious to me, was that after several calls it was always the same person [answering the phone].”
Corley mentioned that the scammer made the process sound very professional during their conversations. The representative, calling himself 'David', told Corley the payment couldn’t be made with a card and had to be paid in cash using a money gram terminal. 'David' also told Corley to call him when he was there and he would give him the reference number so it could be accredited to the Vape Stop’s account.
“They have gone to great lengths to make sure they fool somebody,” Corley stated.
Corley then called AEP and learned that the company wouldn’t handle overdue payments in the way 'David' was asking and assured Corley it was a scam.
AEP is the distribution source for the San Angelo area, however, Corley goes through another company for the stores electricity. After realizing the amount on the bill was different from what David had told him, and because he couldn’t relay certain information that the AEP would know, Corley knew it was a scam.
“They don’t give you much time to respond to it because [scammers] know businesses need electricity to operate,” Corley explained.
After the 5 p.m. deadline, nothing happened to the stores electricity.
Corley said AEP has filed a scam report, and The Vape Stop has filed a complaint with the San Angelo Police Department.
“It was a scam, and they almost hit us for a $500 [loss],” Corley said. “I’m hoping no one gets burned by this.”
Corley warns other business to watch for the number, (800)-830-3317, and not to be fooled by how professional the scammer’s come off as being.