A woman, self-identified as “Amanda,” and her “beer gut” wielding accomplice may be behind a new take on the age-old utility scam hitting Erie County.
According to the Erie County Sheriff's Office, the woman posed as a New York State Electric and Gas rep trying to collect a $1400 outstanding balance from a veterinarian office in the Town of Clarence. She said she would send out a worker to shut off the meter if the balance was not paid.
The vet office said soon after the call, a balding man with a “beer gut” wearing a neon yellow shirt, walked around the facility several times but never entered.
The man returned to a white Nissan pickup truck with a roof light and waited in the vehicle. The caller then advised the vet office to go to a Rite Aid location and call a 1-800 number to receive more information on how to pay the bill.
The veterinarian’s office informed the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Kolmetz learned Rite Aid locations do not accept utility payments.
The Deputy called the 1-800 number multiple times and was either hung up on or directed to an automated answering machine that mimicked the NYSEG’s system.
Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard warned residents not to fall for scam artists’ instructions and to call the number on their utility bill before making any payments.
Sheriff Howard added individuals posing as collection agents for utility companies often ask the victim to pay outstanding balances or fines with a pre-paid credit card. This is clear indication of a scam.
Residents are asked to call the Erie County Sheriff’s Office at 858-2903 or their local police department if they spot a man matching the provided description driving a white Nissan pickup truck.