Anne Alliott, owner of Langley City’s My Thai restaurant, is warning everyone she can about a utilities scam that she almost fell for.
“I want to tell everyone: don’t be foolish like me. I have never been scammed before.
“I always have been pretty smart about these things but this one was a good con,” said Alliott.
A woman named “Amy” called her just before New Year’s Eve claiming to be from B.C. Hydro.
She told Alliott she hadn’t made her last payment and if she didn’t pay that day, the power would be cut off.
Alliott had paid her more than $500 B.C. Hydro bill the week prior but thought maybe they didn’t get it the payment.
All she could think about was how much money she could lose if she had to shut down her restaurant during a holiday.
“Amy” told Alliott to go and put the amount owing onto a Green Dot Visa pre-loaded card she could buy at Safeway.
“So I did. I went to Safeway and I couldn’t figure it out so I spoke with staff there.
“I phoned the 1-888 phone number Amy gave me and had Safeway speak to her about what she wanted.”
Alliott preloaded the Visa card and went back to her restaurant and called the number again.
But luckily, Alliott had bought the wrong kind of preloaded Visa.
The scammer was looking for the kind that that can only be accessed by scratching off a film on the back of the card which reveals an access code. This allows the scammer to transfer the money directly to themselves.
Once the money is transferred there is no way of retrieving it.
“She said ‘you got the wrong kind, you have to go back,’” she said
After some heated conversation about how to get the money, the scammer agreed to call again the next day.
That’s when the My Thai restaurant owner called BC Hydro and found out it was a scam.
Alliott was furious and is determined to not let it go.
“I called the 1-888 number and left a kind message for Amy to phone back and she did. When she did I swore at her in both Thai and English,” she said. “I was so mad.”
Alliott then went to Safeway and warned them about what selling these types of credit cards can do. She also notified police and is telling everyone she knows.
She would like to see grocery stores pull these types of pre-loaded credit cards off the shelves.
The utility scam, like the grandparent scam, has been making the rounds in Langley for sometime.
A utility company, whether it be BC Hydro or Fortis, wouldn’t threaten to cut off power and require payment in that fashion.