Virginia Beach veterinarian warns others not to fall victim to utility scam

Posted at 11:40 AM, Feb 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-26 15:54:39-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A Virginia Beach veterinarian is spreading the word to fellow business owners: don't fall victim to scammers posing as Dominion Virginia Power employees.

Dr. Andrew Silverstone says he was at work Saturday morning when he received a phone call from someone identifying themselves as a Dominion Virginia Power employee.

Dr. Silverstone says he was told his veterinary clinic was scheduled for disconnection due to non-payment of the bill.

Despite repeatedly telling the person on the phone that his account was up to date, Dr. Silverstone says the scammer persisted.

After hanging up, Dr. Silverstone says his manager noted the phone number provided by the scammer was not the same as Dominion Virginia Powers, even though the caller ID did show Dominion Virginia Power's name and number.

Dr. Silverstone plans to file a police report with the Virginia Beach Police Department's Economic Crimes Unit.

Unfortunately, Dr. Silverstone's experience is not unique.

Dominion Virginia Power reports that almost 650 calls have been reported in the past 90 days, which doesn't include the number of hang-ups or customers that didn't report the call.

In Hampton Roads alone, nearly 200 fraudulent calls have been reported from both residential and commercial customers.

The cities with the highest reports of fraudulent calls are Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Hampton and Newport News.

A customer in Virginia Beach lost $900 while another customer in Yorktown lost $800.

Dominion says they would never threaten a customer, even if the account was past due. They also wouldn't insist on one specific form of payment.

For a list of authorized payment locations, click here.

Dominion is offering the following tips to customers:

  • Ask questions and verify what you are hearing by checking your online account or hanging up and then calling us at 866-DOM-HELP. If an account is overdue, we provide multiple communications in writing and offers a payment plan before disconnection occurs.
  • Remember that we do not require payment over the phone and never demand immediate payment of cash, PayPal, any prepaid debit card such as 'MoneyPak/Green Dot', or any gift card to avoid disconnection. Payment by phone is available through BillMatrix at 1-800-573-1147. (Note: customers will never be contacted directly by BillMatrix requiring payment.)
  • Collect information from the scammer including the caller's name, any phone numbers or other details before hanging up and reporting to local law enforcement.