Veterans in Lincoln Park are the latest targets of a phone scam. The B.V Goodall VFW Post 552 is now out about $1,000 after someone posing as a DTE worker threatened to shut off the power.
"I feel stupid, I mean, I know better, people listen, it can be you,” said Jim Bowens, the executive board president of Post 552.
He said in retrospect it all seems so obvious, but the phone call, the caller ID showing DTE and the amount of stress he felt during the situation is why he said he was tricked.
Saturday, The VFW got a call from someone posing as a DTW worker.
Bowens wasn’t at the hall at the time, instead running a charity poker tournament, so he tried to handle the situation remotely.
"I get a call from a barmaid about 12:30, DTW has called her and said if I don't pay $998 by 1:00 they're going to shut off our power,” said Bowens.
He said at first, he took the call in stride.
"Call me back Monday, I'll be up to the post Monday we'll handle this, that's when I'll do my business. I'm busy right now. No it has to be done by 1:00 or the computer automatically shuts you down,” said Bowens.
The VFW hall was already rented out during the time period and the situation was becoming stressful.
"I was just caught in the middle and I just got too flustered, plain and simple stupid,” said Bowens.
He sent his son to get the prepaid money cards the scammer requested.
Once the threat had passed and he had a minute to think about the situation, he started to get angry.
"The it started to dawn on me, what a stupid freaking thing I've done,” said Bowens.
He wants others to take heed and don’t fall for scams like this one.
He also wants to try and raise the money lost.
"It kills us, we're just trying to survive,” said Bowens.
The VFW Post 552 is located at 1125 Fort St. in Lincoln Park. They’re hosting a steak dinner this Saturday from 4:30-7:00. Call ahead if you want to attend, it’s only $10. (313) 383-4505.
DTE also has a lot of tips and advice to help keep you from becoming the target of scanners:
Beware Utility Impostors at the Door:
Michigan law helps protect DTE Energy customers against scam artists by making it a felony to impersonate utility workers. Protect yourself and your family from becoming victims by following the tips below.
At the Door
- Ask for identification. All DTE Electric and DTE Gas employees and contractors carry photo identification badges, and are required to display their badge if asked. We encourage you to ask for identification. If you are unsure about an employee’s identification, or want to verify the nature of the work to be done at your home, call us at 800.477.4747.
- Do not allow people into your home who: Claim to offer a DTE Electric or DTE Gas refund. Our employees never deliver cash refunds or rebates to customers’ homes. Claim to sell DTE Electric or DTE Gas products or services. Our employees do not engage in door-to-door sales. Attempt to collect a bill payment. We do not collect or accept utility bill payments at customers’ homes or businesses.
- Do not pay for tree-trimming work by individuals claiming to be from DTE Electric or a DTE Gas contractor. We do not charge for line clearance work
- Call the police if you believe the person at your door is a con artist posing as a utility worker.
Beware Utility Impostors on the Phone
Michigan law protects DTE Energy customers against scam artists at their door and on their phones by making it a felony to impersonate utility workers. You can protect your family by following the tips below.
On the Phone
- Ask for identification. Pull out your most recent DTE Energy bill and ask the caller to tell you the account number and the amount due. If you have caller I.D., the display will indicate that the call is from DTE Energy.
- If you suspect the call may be fraudulent, hang up and call us toll-free at 800.477.4747. Ask to be connected to a customer service representative who can confirm the status of your account and make appropriate arrangements for payment, if needed.
- If you have received a call of this nature and believe you are the victim of fraud, contact your local police immediately.
Beware Utility Impostors on the Web
DTE Energy customers are protected by Michigan Law against scam artists. In Michigan, it's a felony to impersonate utility workers. Protect yourself and your family from becoming victims by following the tips below.
On the Web
The web is increasingly being used to commit fraud and identity theft. Scammers use e-mail, text messaging and social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
- Never give out personal information, including Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers over the Internet to someone you do not know.
- If you suspect you have been fraudulently contacted, call us at 800.477.4747 to speak with a customer service representative who can confirm the status of your account and make appropriate arrangements for payment, if needed.
- If you believe you are the victim of an online scam, contact your local police immediately
Debit Card Payment Scam
Telephone impostors will threaten to immediately shut off a utility customer’s power unless they receive payment by Green Dot or other prepaid debit card. Unfortunately, a significant number of DTE Energy customers have been victimized by this scam.These scam artists typically target small- and medium-sized businesses, such as restaurants. Once the customer provides the debit card number, funds are transferred to an untraceable account.
Call DTE Energy before you pay
Customers uncertain about a caller claiming to be from DTE Energy should call 800.477.4747 to confirm the status of their account. Anyone suspecting fraud should contact your local police immediately.
Be aware that DTE Energy does not:
- Endorse or require a prepaid debit card for payment
- Impose unrealistic deadlines for payment nor threaten to shut-off power within a period of hours
- Collect payment at customers’ homes or businesses
- Ask for Social Security numbers, bank account or credit card information by phone.