Pretending to be representatives of Tampa Electric Co. and Duke Energy, scammers made thousands of attempts to get people to pay up fast and got away with thousands of dollars.
Florida residents, businesses, bars, restaurants and even a Catholic church have found themselves in the sights of scammers posing as local power companies. Pay this bill immediately, the caller warns, or your power will be cut off, and fast.
So far this year, about 2,400 Tampa Electric Co. customers reported scam attempts. About 100 of them paid scammers a total of about $58,000.
Across Florida, approximately 4,540 Duke Energy customers made similar reports, and 179 of them lost about $95,000.
The Better Business Bureau reports the median loss in utility scams last year was $506.