Dowagiac club almost fooled by utility scam

NOW: Dowagiac club almost fooled by utility scam


DOWAGIAC, Mich. – One Dowagiac business is warning the public about a utility scam. 

Sandy Bruens has been the secretary at Dowagiac Fraternal Order of Eagles since March of this year.

She says a man claiming to be an Indiana Michigan Power worker threatened to shut off power to the Dowagiac Eagles building unless the business paid five months of alleged past-due payments totaling $1,000.

“I believed him,” Bruens said.  “I thought that we owed money.”

Even though the business pays its electric bill to the City Of Dowagiac, the scammer told Bruens that the power was outsourced. 

Bruens says she was surprised the scammer had detailed information, including the club’s account number.

The man told Bruens to pay the money by debit card or prepaid MoneyPak cards. MoneyPak cards deposit cash to any prepaid or bank card. 

“He told me they’re on display, on a card display by the register, it’s a green paper card. He knew the whole thing, and to grab to two of them because they’re only up to $500 dollars,” Bruens explained. “Then to call him back and give him the numbers off the card and it would be taken care of.”

At that moment, Bruens said she knew the man was a scammer. She says she reported the incident to police and the City of Dowagiac.

The card itself warns people about scams. On the back of the card, in red, it says MoneyPak cannot be used for payments like taxes, bills, loans, warrants or bail.

I&M confirmed with ABC57 News that this is definitely a scam and has been reported before. 

Officials say that I&M employees never call customers demanding immediate payment or disconnect service without a prior written warning.

And while Bruens didn’t fall for it, she’s worried others will.

“That’s what I worry about, is people that just don’t know and go get these cards and lose all of their money. Or use their debit cards and their bank accounts get wiped out,” she said. 

The Dowagiac Police Department said these scams are not uncommon, but was not aware of how many in the area have been impacted by this type of scam.

ABC57 called the number that Bruens said was the scammer, and the call disconnected.

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