New Brunswick — Residents of New Brunswick are being warned of a phone scam that is preying upon the population’s gullibility. NB Power has received complaints from customers saying that they have received phone calls from people falsely identifying themselves as customer service representatives of the company, demanding customers make an immediate payment or have their power disconnected.
Ronald Hampton, of Welsford, N.B., described his phone conversation for The Manatee. “I heard the phone ringing one of those weird rings,” Hampton recalled. “I answered and there was a delay on the line before someone came on. ‘Hello, hello’ he said in an accent I didn’t recognize.”
“I could hear a bunch of other people in the background of the call, so I knew it must be important,” Hampton explained. “So, the guy went on to tell me that my computer had some kind of a virus — and it’s weird because I don’t even have a computer. Once I told him that, he excused himself for a moment and told me he had my file mixed up and he was actually calling to tell me to make an immediate payment to my NB Power account. I did it, no questions asked, and only realized there was a problem later on that same week when my power went out.”
Hampton said he called NB Power right away when his service was disconnected. “My power went out and I was surprised because it was a pretty nice day outside, a little windy, but nothing worth knocking the power out. So, I called and told them I had made that payment a couple of days ago. That’s when I found out it was a scam.”
Hampton was one of thousands of New Brunswickers duped by the scam. Sara Draper received the same call and made her payment as well. “I really didn’t want my power to be turned off because I need to be able to use my computer,” she explained. “I’m waiting for a reply from the Prince of Zaire confirming that he got the wire transfer that I sent him. It’s going to turn me into a millionaire,” she said excitedly.
NB Power representative Darlene Flowers suggested the public must be more diligent in catching scam artists when they call initially. “These were obvious scams,” the customer relations rep explained. “I mean, have you ever tried calling NB Power? We’re hardly ever available to speak on the phone, so that should have been the first clue right there. You won’t get a call from us — maybe a recording, but never an actual person.”
Kelly Thomas of Red Rapids was among the few able to avoid the scam. “They called me and were all like ‘pay us now or we’ll turn off your power’ and I was all like ‘I always pay my bills, and my power is always going out anyway’ so I just hung up on them.”
Customers who receive any suspicious calls are encouraged to contact the police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.
NB Power insists that as long as you keep your payments up to date you will never have to worry about an interruption in your power — ever.