Chesterton Tribune



Scammer fails to dupe Val's owner in 'NIPSCO' con

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A would-be scammer came up short on Monday after trying to shake down Val’s Famous Pizza & Grinders for money.

According to police, at 2:56 p.m. the owner of Val’s received a call, purportedly from NIPSCO’s Customer Service Center, informing him that his utilities were about to be shut off for non-payment and “the only remedy was for (him) to drop what he was doing and run out to purchase a pre-paid debit card and pay up.”

The owner quickly determined, while still on the phone with the scammer, by checking his NIPSCO statement on line, that he was up to date. And that was that.

Later, the owner contacted NIPSCO, a representative of which assured him that the company “would never demand payment on such short notice via prepaid debit cards.”

The owner did advise police, however, that “the most disturbing part” of the whole thing is that the scammer knew to the penny “the exact amount of a payment he made a few months ago.”

Although police confirmed that Caller ID identified the scammer’s number as that of NIPSCO’s Customer Service Center, “in this day and age of prepaid smartphones, it is likely that whoever did this is hiding behind a fake caller ID application while enjoying the relative anonymity associated with a prepaid phone.”

In a scam like this one, police noted, the perpetrator “instructs the victim to read the 16-digit prepaid credit card number and the three-digit security code on the back to bring the account up to date. The scammer is then free to make on-line purchases with someone else’s money. Since the cards are prepaid, there is no recourse: no fraud protection and no fraud investigation.”

“NIPSCO does not conduct business like this,” police added. “If someone is past due, they are sent notices informing them of their options to keep service on.”


Posted 8/14/2014