PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Thieves are targeting Hurricane Irma victims by posing as Duke Energy, promising assistance to pay bills.
Duke Energy representatives tell 8 On Your Side they’ve seen familiar scams before.
Melissa Perry said she received a flyer that read “Duke Energy Assistance” from a friend who got it at church.
She lost power and her home was damaged during the storm.
“So I was really just looking for any type of assistance that just to help us through this period,” said Perry. “They said it was passed out at their church, so you know hearing a church, you kind of think it must be legitimate.”
Perry was skeptical of the suspicious routing number and using her social security number. After a friend said it worked for her, she thought, why not.
“I followed the instructions, went to the online bill pay for the Duke site, put in all the information that they said and my balance went to zero,” said Perry.
Excited, she shared the information.
“I waited until the payment actually posted, which it did, to share it with some of my friends. And so yesterday when I shared it with my family and friends, one of my friends who I actually shared it with called me and said, don’t do this, it’s a scam,” Perry said.
She immediately called Duke Energy, only to learn dozens of scams had been reported.
“So I explained the situation to the representative. She put me on a three-to-four-minute hold and came back and confirmed that it was a scam,” she said.
Perry will have to pay the bill. She’s hoping to stop others from making the same mistake.
“You know, this was passed out at a church before it even got to me. I’m sure someone has posted this on Facebook,” she said.
A Duke Energy representative said their website is secure, but never give out your social security number.
Duke Energy will also flag the routing number, but warn customers to be cautious because a scammer can create a new one.