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Posted January 22, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Utility warns members of payment scam

By Joe Beck

A spokesman for the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative warned members Tuesday of a scam that bilked one person out of money based on a bogus demand for payment on a delinquent bill.

J. Michael Aulgur said in an interview that the member lost a sum of less than $500 in the scam. Aulgur said local authorities had been notified about the incident. He refused to disclose the jurisdiction in which the crime was committed.

"Immediately upon learning of the situation, we told the member to contact local authorities," Aulgur said.

A news release from SVEC said the member was contacted by someone claiming to be a cooperative employee. The phony employee told the member to pay a delinquent bill from SVEC by buying a Green Dot Visa Card, according to the news release.

SVEC President and CEO Myron Rummel said in a news release, "First and foremost, we want our members to know that the cooperative will communicate about potential termination of electric service with them through a mailed notification, not a phone call asking the member to pay for their service by credit card.

"Unfortunately, a member . . . has fallen victim to this crime," he stated.

Aulgur said SVEC learned of the incident on Monday and that it was one of several involving cooperative members since late last year. He said fewer than five members have been affected.

"We certainly would never ask a member to go somewhere else to put money on a charge card and ask to call us," Aulgur said. "That's just not our standard operating procedure."

SVEC serves about 90,000 meters in nine jurisdictions, including Warren, Frederick and Shenandoah counties and Winchester.

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