"Obama Utility Scam" Finds its Way to Mid-Missouri

8 years 2 months 3 days ago Saturday, July 21 2012 Jul 21, 2012 Saturday, July 21, 2012 1:54:00 PM CDT July 21, 2012 in News
By: Martin Sutovsky
loading

COLUMBIA - Record highs this summer mean high utility bills for Mid-Missourians. As many struggle to keep up with the cost of running air conditioning full-time, scammers are trying to take advantage. 

It's known as "The Obama Utility Scam", and it has affected people all across the nation, and now Columbia. The scam promises utility bill help in the form of a new federal program President Obama created. All customers have to do is register bank routing and social security numbers, in exchange for a new bank routing number, where a payment toward the utility bill will be made. But no utility payment is ever made and no such program exists. 

Instead the scammers used the acquired information to drain bank accounts and steal identities, while leaving the victims no closer to having paid off their bills. Mike Odneal, Branch Manager for the Mid-Missouri Better Business Bureau, helps protect people from scams like this, but said this particular scam is unique in it's effectiveness. 

"One of the reasons why this particular scam seems to be having such widespread effect is because people are forwarding emails to their friends or they are sending text messages to their friends, or social media messages and that sort of thing, saying that they've taken advantage of this program."

While many people know not to give out sensitive information to strangers, this scam seems to have an unusual aura of legitimacy that has people believing the offer of financial help, to be real. 

Said Officer Latisha Stroer of The Columbia Police Department, "We've had a drought, which has created high temperatures, large utility bills and the fact that they are using the Obama administration, coined the 'Utility Bailout.'"

The scam first started appearing in March according to The Better Business Bureau, and there are eight confirmed cases in Columbia. Other cities across the nation were hit much harder. 

Odneal offered several tips to help consumers keep their information safe, "Never give your personal bank routing information or social security number to anyone who calls you on the phone."

He also added, "The most important thing to remember is take a deep breath...if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is...don't fall for something somebody has told you about, make sure you double check."

Don't trust anybody claiming the president will pay your bills for you, and be careful with your sensitive information, or a tough summer, could get much worse. 

 

More News

Grid
List
(AP)- Police say two Louisville, Kentucky, police officers have been shot and wounded during protests over a lack of charges... More >>
4 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 10:21:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Department of Transportation has a shortage of more than 400 plow truck drivers and heavy equipment... More >>
5 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 8:49:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
(AP)- The mostly rural Bootheel region of Missouri is seeing high numbers of confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but unlike... More >>
5 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 8:47:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA- The Columbia Police Department is asking for people's help in the investigation of 13 unsolved homicides. Those crimes... More >>
6 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 7:48:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
(AP)- A 33-year-old central Missouri man is accused of killing his wife by running her over with a truck during... More >>
6 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 7:43:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America. The American... More >>
9 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 5:30:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in A Brighter Tomorrow
MISSOURI- On Wednesday, Governor Mike Parson and his wife Teresa Parson tested positive for COVID-19. Gov. Parson is quarantining... More >>
9 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 5:17:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
SEDALIA— The Pettis County Sheriff’s Office is reinstating a body camera system, following the deputy involved shooting of Hannah Fizer.... More >>
9 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 5:11:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY- Mid-Missouri's food pantry for military families and veterans relocated after serving nearly 16 years at the Missouri National... More >>
9 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 4:48:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Governor Mike Parson and his wife Teresa Parson tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. Gov. Parson... More >>
10 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 3:57:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - As Columbia attempts to reopen businesses, movie theaters are slowly trying to make a comeback. Columbia's reopening... More >>
10 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 3:45:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY- Dr. Randall Williams, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director, will hold a press conference at 4... More >>
10 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 3:38:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - UPDATE: 4 p.m.: Governor Parson has also tested positive for COVID-19, according to governor's Facebook page. The... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 3:08:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - A Columbia Public Schools parent is trying to expand the scope of the district's free meal program while... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 2:47:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The latest White House Coronavirus Task Force Report shows improvement in the data for Columbia and Boone County,... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 1:32:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - UPDATE 4:55 p.m.: First Lady Teresa Parson tweeted a statement Wednesday afternoon. She reported cold-like symptoms Wednesday... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 12:44:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
KENTUCKY- One of the police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor in her Louisville home has been... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 12:40:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - A Columbia police officer attempted to initiate a traffic stop on a vehicle that previously was reported stolen... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 11:47:00 AM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 58°
3am 58°
4am 57°
5am 56°
6am 56°