Businesses being targeted by fraudulent calls

The Sheriff’s Office is investigating a report of a business that received a call claiming to be from a debt collector working for Florida Keys Electric Co-op. The caller threatened to have the power turned off immediately if someone didn’t pay cash owed on their electric bill.

Since the initial report, the Sheriff’s Office has learned there may be other customers of FKEC who have received such calls.

Last week, an employee of Kaiyo Grill in Islamorada received a call from a female who said her name was “Erica” claiming to be working for FKEC. She said the restaurant owed $750 on their electric bill. She told the employee they had 30 minutes to pay or the power would be shut off.

The caller told the victim she would not accept a check and gave him several other options for paying. That same day, he went to the local Winn Dixie and bought a Visa gift card for half the amount. He called her back and gave her the identifying number off the back of the card so she could access the money immediately. He told her that is all he could pay her today and would pay the rest the following day.

She instructed him to go the next day and buy a “Green Dot Pay-Pal” card for the remainder of the amount. He did that, and then called her and gave the access information for that card as well.

After paying the woman the total amount she said was owed, the victim then called FKEC to check on the situation. He was informed FKEC does not make bill collections in this manner. Calls to the number he had for “Erica”  are now going unanswered.

Investigations are continuing. Anyone who has received similar calls should contact the Sheriff’s Office.

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