Scammers target Lakeland Electric customers

Ken Suarez reports

- For the last three decades, Mary Lou Witte has been in charge of keeping track of every cent for the same dental office.

She prides herself on paying bills on time. So when she got a phone call from Lakeland Electric, saying she needed to pay up, she knew something was wrong.

"You owe on the account, and unless it's paid, we're going to have to turn your electric off," the male caller told her.

He gave her 45 minutes to come up with more than $2,000 or the office would be in the dark, he claimed. He asked for a credit card number, but she said, 'not so fast.'

Witte was positive the electric bill had been paid, but checked her records just in case, and then she called the guy  back.

"I called him a crook, and I told him he was a lowlife," Witte told FOX 13.

Lakeland Electric says other customers did pay the bogus bills. The scam callers are also representing themselves as employees of TECO and Florida Power and Light.

The operation uses the same toll free call back number, 844-275-5716, no matter who they say they work for. It has even gone as far as taking the Lakeland Electric recorded phone message, so when you call, it seems like you're contacting the real utility.

Police are investigating, trying to find out who is behind the scam and where they're located. In the meantime, Lakeland Electric has a warning.

"We will never call a customer by phone and to give us a credit card number," said Cindy Clemmons, Lakeland Electric spokeswoman. "We don't operate that way."

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