AG's office warns of electric co-op scam targeting Hispanic com - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

AG's office warns of electric co-op scam targeting Hispanic community

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson is warning the public to be wary when they answer their phones. A new telephone scam is targeting electric co-op customers with a pretty convincing angle.

They call to say your electricity will be cut off in a few hours unless you pay up immediately. They have your account information, so the call seems legitimate. But it's just the latest telephone scam to hit South Carolina.

"It's sophisticated," said Electric Cooperative President and CEO Mike Couick. "About as sophisticated as any crime you can imagine."

So what's the new twist on this old con?

"Scammers are taking advantage of these people who do not speak fluent English," said Couick. "The scammers speak Spanish. They call these people and they abuse their trust."

Felipa Flores, who does not speak English, lost $100 to this scam earlier this year. She says scammers knew the exact balance on her account and she was pressured to pay.

"She was going to the office to pay it, and he said, 'No, you have to go to CVS, buy a moneypack and after you are done with that, for $100, you call me and give me the pin number on the back,' and that's what she did," said Flores.

"They have children or parents who live with them and they don't want the electricity to go off, so they don't stop and think they just react. And they react because they're trying to take care of their family," said Wilson.

Couick says each of their offices has taken hundreds of reports of these scams targeting the Hispanic community since January. If you get the call, they say the best thing is to hang up.

"It's okay to tell them, 'I'm sorry, I don't have time to talk right now. Can I get your number and call you back? I'll be happy to provide you with what you need.' If they're legitimate, they won't have a problem with that," said Wilson.

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