Cheektowaga Police are now warning the public to be on-guard for two white men posing as imposter utility workers for New York State and the electric company. Detectives believe the crooks are targeting senior citizens by picking homes where residents have older sounding names that are not as common anymore.
On Wednesday April 18th, the scammers tried to talk their way into homes on Gary Lane and Wallace Avenue in Cheektowaga.
"They were telling the resident at one location that they were going to install a generator and needed to inspect the basement fuse panel," explained Cheektowaga Assistant Police Chief James Speyer.
Police say the imposters did get into a Gary Lane home where they pried open a safe and stole items from a 90-year-old resident. Assistant Chief Speyer said he has also received reports that phoney utility workers tried to enter homes in West Seneca and Hamburg.
The situation with scammers pretending to be from a utility company is such a concern that National Grid has recently changed its identification protocol for all employees. Previously, employees could wear an ID badge on their belt. It is now mandatory that National Grid workers wear an identification card with their name and picture on a lanyard with National Grid logos.
National Grid spokesperson Dave Bertola said crews will only arrive in marked vehicles and will, most often, be wearing National Grid hard hats. Bertola said National Grid crews will only come during regular daytime hours unless it is an emergency.
For those concerned, Bertola advised people to not allow the suspected worker to enter your home until you call National Grid at (716) 642-4272 to verify if the worker is legitimate.
Cheektowaga Police say the imposter suspects were last seen driving both a black and a white pickup truck.
"I know it sound obvious, but getting a license number can provide us a wealth of information," said Asst. Chief Speyer.
7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more in his report.