METHUEN – Chief Joseph Solomon and the Methuen Police Department are alerting residents and business owners about a recent National Grid scam and remind the community to never give into threats.
Within the last week, police have received reports that at least three Methuen businesses have fallen victim to this phone scam, costing business owners hundreds of dollars.
According to officials, scammers will call and claim to work for National Grid, demanding payment on past due balances via wire transfer or through a pre-paid card. Callers threaten customers that their service will be immediately shut-off if they do not receive payment. In some cases, the caller also claims that the resident or business owner has a faulty meter that needs to be replaced for a large fee, which would never be the responsibility of the customer.
Scammers and con artists ask for payment via wire transfer or through pre-paid debit cards, because the money is transferred instantly and irrecoverably. If a victim gives away a pre-paid debit card number or makes a wire transfer, the money is gone and lost forever.
"Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in these types of phone scams in which victims send money through wire transfer or on pre-paid cards and the funds are gone forever," Chief Solomon said. "Although these threats can feel intimidating, never send money to anyone you don't know. Hang up the phone and call police immediately."
Other characteristics of these types of scams include:
• Scammers generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
• Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
• Scammers spoof the National Grid number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s legitimate.
• Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
National Grid has released a statement saying customers should never make payments via gift card, pre-paid card, or money order.
Anyone who is concerned that they may have fallen victim to a phone scam should contact the Methuen Police Department at 978-983-8698.