A man brazenly defrauded an East Side St. Charles restaurant after claiming to be a ComEd representative who would shut off power to the business during the noon hour Monday if it did not make good on an unpaid bill of $489.86.
Owners of the sub and pizza restaurant in the 2700 block of East Main Street called police about 1 p.m. Monday after making the payment and later realizing that the city of St. Charles is the utility that provides its electricity. St. Charles police said the incident remains under investigation.
Police said the incident began to unfold in the morning with a phone call to the restaurant from a man claiming to be a representative of Commonwealth Edison, which supplies electricity to many homes and businesses in the Chicago suburbs.
Identifying himself as Steve Johnson, the caller said the business owed $489.86 for electricity and that power to the business would be shut off at 12:15 p.m. for nonpayment. He instructed the victim purchase a Green Dot Money Pak card in the exact amount from an area Walgreens and then provide the card number for payment of the bill.
Not long afterward, the restaurant received a call from another male who said he was from ComEd and was headed to the business to shut off its power. The victim then obtained the money card. The man identifying himself as Steve Johnson then called back, and the victim gave him the number for the card and was told the shutoff order was being canceled.
Not long afterward, the victim began to suspect he had been scammed, since his electric service is from the city of St. Charles, which verified that his account was current. He then called police to report the incident.
The city of St. Charles advises residents and businesses that if an account is in disconnect status, the city does not take payments over the phone, online or through the use of Money Pak cards. Instead, the resident or business will receive a courtesy call by phone, but the payment would be accepted only at the office in the St. Charles Municipal Center, 2 E. Main St.