TOWN OF CLARENCE, N.Y. -- Erie County Sheriff Deputies say they are investigating a suspicious incident in a veterinarian's office in Clarence Wednesday, involving a phone scam and man with a "beer gut."
A doctor at the veterinarian's office told a deputy a female, who said her name was Amanda, called the office and said she was a New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) representative. She tried to collect an outstanding balance of $1,400 over the phone, and said she would send a worker to the facility to turn off the gas meter if the money was not paid.
A short time after, a balding man described as having a "beer gut" and wearing a high visibility yellow shirt arrived at the veterinarian's office. He walked around the facility several times, but did not enter. He then returned to a white Nissan pickup truck with a roof light and waited in the vehicle.
"Amanda" then told the doctor to go to a Rite Aid drugstore and call 1-844-335-9064 to receive further instructions on how to pay the outstanding balance. The deputy learned later that Rite Aids don't accept utility payments, and tried to call the number "Amanda" provided multiple times. A person on the other line either hung up or the deputy was directed to an automated answering service that mimics NYSEG's system.
The Sheriff's Office is warning residents and business not to follow the instructions of the scam artists posing as NYSEG representatives.
They also advise calling the number printed out on an official utility bill before making any payments. The Sheriff's Office also says to be aware that those posing as collection agents for utilities or governments often ask for outstanding balances to be paid using a pre-paid credit or Green Dot card, which usually indicates a scam.
Anyone who may see the man matching the description provided by the veterinarian's office, who is driving a white Nissan pickup truck with a roof light, is asked to call the Erie County Sheriff's Office at 716-858-2903.