Sarasota, Florida -- A scam preying on your money appears to be making its way to the Tampa Bay area. The caller claims to be with Florida Power & Light and threatens to turn off your power if you don't pay up.
As a small business owner, Eco Hair Design owner Candy Roberts knows every penny counts. So when the phone rang Friday afternoon the caller made Roberts suspicious.
"Why $299?" Roberts remembers asking the man on the other line.
The caller, a man representing FPL named "Bill" with a Jamaican accent, called from a local 941 number.
"He was literally holding my electric bill ransom and wanted a cash payment $299," says Roberts.
If she didn't pay the money, Roberts says the caller threaten her power would be turned off in 35 minutes.
"I asked to speak with a supervisor and he hung up," she says.
Roberts verified the scam with FPL and learned it's a common scam that's recently been popping up in Southwest Florida. She reported the call to the Florida's Department of Agriculture and the Sarasota Sheriff's Office.
"It's a shame. Three hundred dollars is somebody's groceries or a month," Roberts said.
Sgt. Neil Scully, with the Sarasota Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Unit, says scammers prey on one's greed, guilt or gullibility.
"They will have a convincing sounding voice on the other line to scare us," he says.
The caller left a phone number on Robert's caller ID. 10 News called the number.
"You've reached a magicJack customer," says the recording.
Click below to view PSA "Just Hang Up" by Sarasota Sheriff's Office.
MagicJack is a $50 device used to make calls using the Internet.
"Just because appears on the phone the call is coming in locally not necessarily mean it originated in our community," Scully says.
Scully says scammers are rarely reported and when reported are difficult to track down. If you receive a suspicious call and it sounds like a scam, sheriff's deputies say just hang up and call law enforcement.
If the scam comes in the form of a letter in the mail, Scully says reseal it, write either "Post Master" or "Postal Inspector" on the envelope, and mail it back without adding any extra postage.
If the scam comes in an email, Scully says check to see if the email address matches the name of the company it claims to represent. Or you can do what Roberts did.
"Ask to speak to a supervisor don't just give them the money," she says.