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Caller uses electricity ruse  to bilk St. Charles restaurant

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Better Business Bureau of northern Illinois offers a look at the most-frequent scams, Page 15

Updated: February 17, 2013 6:30AM

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

Police said a man called a 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 nonpayment 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 that 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 buy 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’s 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, online, 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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