• MLGW scam threatens to shut off customers' power if large payment is not made

    By: Winnie Wright

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Another day, another scam. This time it is involving MLGW. 

    Someone pretending to be with the utility company is demanding money and threatening to shut off your power immediately if it’s not paid. But this time, they called the wrong person.

    “Give me three hours,” Stanley Bell told the caller.

    “Sir, I cannot give you three hours,” the scammer responded. “Once again, I can give you one hour. I cannot allow three hours in the system.”

    That demand for money within the hour is one of the ways Bell was tipped off that he was dealing with a scam.


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    “I asked him, ‘Are you sure you’ve got the right place?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘This is a church,” Bell told FOX13 Monday. 

    The man had called the Southside Church in Christ. He said their MLGW bill was two months late.

    “He told me to get a green card from Dollar General and put money on it. I had to use cash,” Bell said of the caller’s demands. “We don’t deal like that.”

    The caller was so specific, he told Bell which Dollar General to use. 

    He told Bell to go to the Dollar General on Lamar at I-240, put $398 on the card and a $5.95 fee, and said the cashier would know what to do.

    “I asked him to give me the account number. My account number. He said we don’t do that,” Bell said, adding the caller also couldn’t tell him how much the balance was.

    Tammy Brown, the church’s secretary, heard Bell’s exchanges with the man and knew he was up to no good.

    “When he made the statement that you hadn’t paid it in two months, I knew, hold on, let me go down there and intervene because we aren’t sending anything. We’re not doing anything. Whatever you’re talking, it’s not going to work,” she told FOX13. 

    That caller was trying to scam the wrong church.

    “I am a retiree of Memphis Gas, Light, and Water,” Brown said with a sly smile.

    She knew his game wasn’t going to work on them but recorded most of the caller’s demands and emailed the FOX13 news tip line to warn others against the scam.

    “If he could call us, he could call some of our members, or someone else, and they will fall for that because no one wants their lights cut off at this time,” Bell said.

    What makes matters worse, when Bell and Brown called the number back, they got the MLGW voicemail. Meaning the scammer likely highjacked the MLGW phone number.

    We reached out to MLGW for comment but haven’t heard back. 

    MLGW has said before, they do not request payments over the phone. If you get one of the calls, call police.

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