It’s been a busy few months for restaurant scammers. Just a few weeks ago, a couple of University of Houston frat boys were “busted” for creating fake Facebook pages for nonexistent restaurants. Now, scammers are trying to extort cash from restaurants by claiming that they owe hundreds of dollars to the natural gas company.
KPRC Houston reports that V Bistro owner Khoi Vo has received multiple fraudulent calls from a person claiming that he owes money to CenterPoint Energy. When he called the number back, he heard a recorded message intended to make victims believe that they’re dealing with the energy provider.
That is, of course, until their “personal disconnection assistant” tells them to go to CVS to pay the bill. "He told me to take care of the fees within the next hour,” Vo told KPRC. “He instructed me to go to the closest CVS and call him from there to get further instructions.”
If going to CVS to pay an overdue gas bill seems bizarre, that’s because it is. According to CenterPoint Energy, they never require customers to make payments at a drugstore, instead using an automated phone system to collect late payments. But at CVS, scammers can use untraceable, reloadable cash cards to bilk cash out of their victims.
Fortunately, Vo didn’t fall prey to the scam, but that doesn’t mean that other restaurateurs haven’t. At present, no more victims have come forward.