The Bottom Line: National Grid phone scam follow-up
Updated: Thursday, July 10 2014, 08:47 PM EDT
COLONIE -- Police in Colonie are closely investigating a phone scam targeting restaurant owners, claiming they owe money to National Grid.
CBS 6's Dori Marlin has reported this scam as a Bottom Line Alert twice in the last two weeks, both in Saratoga and Schenectady Counties.
It's a phone scam where the caller claims to work for National Grid, demands payment on a prepaid debit card, and says without payment, the customer's power will be turned off.
Now Colonie Police confirm eight eateries in the town have received the call - and three of them have fallen for it, losing a total of about $6,400.
One of the restaurant owners who narrowly escaped falling victim? Todd Leach, owner of TJ's Cafe on Central Avenue.
He says he got the call yesterday, and initially believed it because he thought his bill was coming due.
But then he called National Grid, which he says told him, the call was bogus.
That's when he then called Colonie Police, who tried to catch the bad guy in the act.
"We had set up a couple of undercover officers in our building, posing as my wife and myself, waiting on the individual to show up," says Leach.
"[The scammer] called me about 11:05, and said 'Do you have the money?' And I said 'Yes, I'm waiting for you to come pick it up.' He said 'Okay, I'm gonna need you to go to a pharmacy and send it to me through a MoneyPak.'"
Police never got their guy, but that is how the scam works: The caller gets the victim to send over payment, using a Green Dot MoneyPak prepaid debit card.
The Bottom Line? National Grid says it will never contact customers by phone to demand payment, and it does not use those prepaid debit cards.
If you get one of the calls, you're told not to pay any money - and instead, contact National Grid directly.