Originally published in The Weekly Packet, July 13, 2017
Fraudulent Emera scam nets money from Blue Hill resident
by Faith DeAmbrose
On Saturday morning when Sonya Leonard got a call from a person identifying himself as being from the energy company Emera, she paused—because it was Saturday. But, as she took the call, the representative seemed to have his facts straight and since she couldn’t imagine the tenants in the Pendelton building being without power, she made a payment under threat of immediate service cancellation.
The caller had Leonard’s full account number, the amount of her last payment, the name of a tenant in the building, whom they were also calling, along with other pertinent information that made most of the call seem legitimate. “I just don’t understand how they had so much information,” she said.
Leonard recently purchased the historic Water Street building and while she said she had just made a payment equal to the entire bill, she was told by the caller that the $500 payment “had been applied to the wrong account” but while it was being figured out, she’d need to make another payment because someone was en route to turn the power off. “I couldn’t imagine Kathy [Eaton, owner of Harbor House] being without power for two business days” Leonard said, adding that because of that, she sent a payment, electronically at Rite Aid, as instructed by the caller.
The call, coming from the number 877-824-9133, appears to be a number used in similar scams, according to an Internet search, and while Leonard is now searching for answers herself, she is not finding any help in the places she’s thought to look.
She said that while talking with the sheriff’s office she learned that they had other reports from victims of scams in the last few weeks, but ultimately there was nothing they could do to help me. “I called the police and they told me to call you,” she said of The Weekly Packet. The calls didn’t stop with the Sheriff’s Office; Leonard also called Emera and the district attorney’s office only to be told that there was nothing they could do either.
Acknowledging that she is unlikely to ever see the money she sent on Saturday, Leonard said she primarily wants people to know about her situation. “I don’t see myself as a person that would fall for a scam,” she said, “so I want to make sure that other people know so something similar doesn’t happen to them.”