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Caller uses electricity shutoff ruse to bilk St. Charles restaurant

Updated: February 17, 2013 6:24AM

ST. CHARLES — A restaurant was bilked out of almost $500 Monday in a scam in which a caller said the business’ electricity was going to be shut off, police said Tuesday.

Police said a man called the sandwich and pizza restaurant in the 2700 block of East Main Street before noon Monday, claiming to be an employee of ComEd. The caller said the electricity to the business would be shut off because of non-payment if the bill wasn’t paid immediately.

An employee of the restaurant said the caller identified himself as “Steve Johnson.” The caller said the business owed a $489 bill and power to the business would be shut off at 12:15 p.m. for nonpayment.

The employee was instructed to go to an area Walgreens and purchase a Green Dot Money Pak card in the exact amount, and then provide the card number for payment.

That call was followed by another call from a different man who said he was from ComEd and was on his way to shut off the power.

At that point, the restaurant employee went to the Walgreens and obtained the money card.

“Steve Johnson” then called again and was given the number for the card, and advised that he would cancel the shut-off order to the business.

At about 1 p.m., the employee realized that it may have been some type of scam, because the restaurant’s electric service is from the City of St. Charles. He checked and found the business’ account was current, police said.

In a press release, the city reminded residents and business owners that if an account is in disconnect status, no utility payments are taken over the phone, on line, or through Money Pak cards. If a resident or business is in disconnect status, a courtesy call would be made by city personnel, but payment would only be accepted at City Hall.

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