Phone scam targets Whitehorse businesses

Whitehorse business owners are being targeted by scammers who claim to work for ATCO Electric and threaten to cut off their electricity if they don't pay up.

Whitehorse business owners are being targeted by scammers who claim to work for ATCO Electric and threaten to cut off their electricity if they don’t pay up.

The telephone scammers are telling business owners they must immediately go to Canada Post and purchase a pay safe card, and then give the scammers the PIN number.

Janet Chan, owner of the North Dragon restaurant, received a call from someone claiming to work for ATCO Electric just before noon on Tuesday. He told her she had to pay about $1,200 before 12:45 p.m., or he would cut her power.

“I’m feeling so mad,” she said. “I’m saying, ‘I never owed you a penny. I always pay on time. If you want to cut my electric, this is not fair for me, not fair for us, the business.’”

Chan said the caller told her there had likely been a computer mistake. He told her to pay the money, and when the mistake was corrected, she would be reimbursed.

She agreed, and said she would go to ATCO’s office to pay. The caller told her the office was closed. She then said she would go to her bank and transfer the money, but he said that wouldn’t work either. When he told her to go to Canada Post, she got suspicious.

“That’s when I think it’s a scam,” she said. She told the caller she was going to call the police, and hung up. She then called the RCMP and ATCO Electric.

“I just want… to let the people know,” she said. “I don’t want this scam for anybody.”

Stephanie Cunha, a spokesperson for ATCO Electric, said she knows of at least six business owners who were targeted that day.

She said a similar scam made the rounds in May, when callers claiming to work for ATCO threatened to cut off electricity unless they were given a credit card number.

Cunha said customers who fall behind on their payments would never be threatened with an immediate loss of power.

“We would work hand-in-hand with customers,” she said. “Cutting off power to customers is the last resort.”

She said customers who don’t make payments would first see an overdue amount on their bills, and would then receive letters and phone calls from customer service agents.

Cunha said anyone who receives a suspicious phone call should call ATCO Electric at 867-633-7000 and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

Contact Maura Forrest at

maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

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