A new phone scam has been reported coming out of Nova Scotia, after Halifax restaurant owner Elias Fathallah says he nearly fell victim to the ploy. According to CBC, the scam has targeted over a dozen other people in the province, who have received phone calls from an impersonator pretending to be from Nova Scotia Power, saying they had unpaid electricity bills and were going to be cut off.
On December 15th alone, Nova Scotia Power says it received fifteen reports from customers who had been targeted by this scam.
Fathallah says he was serving customers on December 15th when around 11:30 a.m. his phone rang. “Someone called Eugene told me he worked with the power company, and he was coming in 45 minutes to disconnect my power,” he said. Fathallah also says the man gave him a 1-800 number and extension, with which he could call and keep his power running.
“When I called the machine, it said ‘Welcome to Power Nova Scotia,'” Fathallah said. A person named Robert William answered and said he was the manager. “William” told Fathallah that his online payments had not gone through since September, meaning Fathallah owed Nova Scotia Power thousands of dollars.
Fathallah agreed to give the man his credit card information so he could pay the allegedly unpaid bills, but before he could, “the man interrupted, saying instead that Fathallah had to go to a spot on Oxford Street in Halifax and pay $1,020.09 in cash,” reports the CBC. This is when Fathallah caught on.
No legitimate power company would ever ask to collect payments in a parking lot, so Fathallah called the number on his bill statements. “I told her, ‘What’s going on? Why do I have a red flag on my account? I paid my bills on time.’ And she said, ‘What are you talking about? Your bills are paid … we are not coming to disconnect your power,” Fathallah recounted.
It’s a good thing that Fathallah made the choice to call Nova Scotia Power, but he says it could have gone the other way, and that the scammer seemed very authentic. “He was playing me well. He was so calm, so professional,” he said.
Nova Scotia Power has said luckily no one has fallen victim to the scheme yet, despite the scammers’ numerous attempts.