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Susan Tompor: Sweepstakes scam warning: Consumer watchdog isn't confirming that you won a prize

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

The amount of the bill didn't seem outrageous for the business since some of its bills can be around $2,400 a month.

The story line the scammer used involved something about DTE claiming that the account numbers for the business had changed and some payments weren't made.

The caller created a do-it-now-or-else sense of urgency.

"If you don't pay it, we're sending a truck to shut off the gas," Plaza recalled the callers saying.

Plaza said gas is needed as part of the paint process to repair cars.

"Our business is huge. If anything is shut down here, I'm in trouble," she said.


She bought GreenDot prepaid cards, scratched off the back to reveal a number on the back of the card and then read that number to the person on the phone. The money is gone when the scammers immediately transfer the cash to another account to access the money at an ATM or spend it online.

Plaza isn't the only victim to fall for this one, either.

A Farmington Hills business lost $19,000 in January after scammers pretending to be from DTE called and threatened to shut off power.

Farmington Hills Police Department Assistant Chief Daniel Rodriguez said the money was put on 39 GreenDot cards after the threats were taken seriously. The investigation is ongoing.


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