Money lost after false threat of power disconnection
Update 18 May 2015: Consumer Protection is pleased to report that the business followed advice to immediately contact the bank involved and instigate a funds recall, which has resulted in the return of the $6,000.
A Northbridge business has lost $6,000 after getting calls from a scammer claiming to be from Synergy, WA’s largest energy retailer, and threatening to disconnect their power.
Consumer Protection and Synergy have launched an investigation after the business paid $3,000 each into two bank accounts in Victoria.
The male claiming to be from Synergy rang the proprietor of the business three times regarding an alleged overdue account and threatened to disconnect their power unless the payments were made immediately.
Synergy confirms that they did not contact the customer requesting the overdue amount be paid immediately. Synergy asks customers to remain diligent and to contact Synergy directly to verify any request if they are concerned.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said it is common for scammers to cold call consumers pretending to represent government departments and businesses like Synergy.
“These calls often come with threats and create a sense of urgency so the recipient of the call doesn’t have the time to check the authenticity of the demand,” Mr Hillyard said.
“Consumers and businesses should think carefully when they get a demand for payment out of the blue like this, and independently contact the organisation to verify if the demand is genuine.
“Also consider whether that organisation would act in this way for an overdue account and why you haven’t received a written letter of demand. Resist the temptation to act in haste as it will be almost impossible to recover the money once it is sent.
“Other scam calls have involved people pretending to be from the tax office or police, threatening arrest if a fake fine or tax bill is not paid immediately. They rely on people reacting out of fear without questioning the demand, so stop and think and take time to confirm it directly with the organisation claiming to be represented.”
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