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Electricity disconnect scam targets Kansas customers

Midwest Energy warned customers throughout central and western Kansas to be aware of a scam where criminals call or show up to homes and businesses, threatening to cut off service unless immediate payment is made or transferred by wire.

The week of Jan. 20, a business owner in Hays received a call from a man, who said he was from "the electric company," saying the customer's account was past due, and that he would disconnect service if the owner didn't make an immediate payment by wire transfer. The owner said his wife handled the bills, and asked for a number where his wife could call back.

The owner's wife dialed and spoke to a female, who repeated the request for payment by wire.  Still suspicious, the owner's wife hung up and called Midwest Energy, which verified her account was current, and that the company does not accept wire transfers for payment. Midwest Energy advised the customer to make a report with the Hays Police Department.  

Similar scams have been noted recently at other electric cooperatives in western Kansas.

"Pioneer Electric Cooperative in Ulysses has also had a scam, but in their version, their customers have had a person show up on the doorstep, demanding $100 or threatening disconnection," said Shana Read, communications director for Kansas Electric Cooperatives in Topeka. "Victory Electric in Dodge City has had similar scams targeting Hispanic customers there."

"We never disconnect service over the phone or on weekends," said Michael Sadeghi, Midwest Energy's director of customer service. "If you're ever in doubt whether a person at your home or business works for Midwest Energy, or if someone calls pretending to be with Midwest Energy, please call us at (800) 222-3121."