Sophisticated caller ID scam hits Florida Power & Light customers

CREATED Feb. 19, 2014

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Florida Power & Light is warning customers about a sophisticated caller ID scam.  

The scammer impersonates a FPL representative and demands payment on an "overdue" bill and threatens to turn off the customer's power if "payment" is not provided.

It happened to Fort Myers resident Vinnie Russo.  

When his phone rang and his caller ID showed "FP&L Recovery," with a 1-800 number, he answered.  

The man on the other end of the line told him he owed $59 and if he didn't pay with a credit or debit card over the phone, his power would be shut off. 

"It so sincere, it was so believable," Russo said.

"I got scared!"

"Who wants their lights to go off?" Russo added.

When the caller asked for Russo's social security number, he got suspicious and hung up.  

Russo says the caller phoned him four more times in a row demanding payment.  

"Something just didn't sound right, I've never gotten a call from FP&L Recovery," he said. 

He unplugged his phone from the wall for a bit and then called the FPL number listed on his bill.  

Sure enough, a representative told him his bill was not overdue and no one from FPL had called him.

Beth Schell, fraud specialist with Lee County Sheriff's Office, said the scam-- called "spoofing"-- is done through an applications scammers use to create whatever name and phone number they want to show up on caller ID when they call.

"Before, we'd look at caller ID and go, 'oh, it's FPL,' now you have to look at it and go, 'hm, maybe it's not,'" she said.

A spokeswoman for FPL told Fox 4 the company is aware of this scam and warns customers no one from FPL would ever call a customer to ask for credit card information or take a prepaid card as payment.

For more tips on how to avoid FPL scams, click HERE.