Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Give Me Your Money

I was browsing my way through the Yahoo headlines today, keeping abreast of the hard-hitting news items of the day, such as what dress Kim Kardashian was wearing inappropriately this week. (Abreast… get it?) Anyway, after I got done being outraged at the fact that a New York City traffic officer would have the unmitigated gall to give J Lo a parking ticket, I came across a headline that caught my eye in a different way.

New utility scam is popping up across the nation

Hey, wait a minute. This actually looks like something that could affect my life. This actually sounds like something I should read in order to better protect myself against the seemingly ever-increasing population of no-good, rotten scammers out there. Someone named Cameron Huddleston apparently has penned an article for, a well-respected financial magazine’s online presence, that will equip me to do battle with thieves. I’m interested.

The Better Business Bureau says that a new utility bill scam is popping up throughout the U.S. and Canada. And it involves an approach to get people to part with their money that's been growing in popularity over the past couple of years: prepaid debit cards.

Huh? I thought this was going to be about someone piggybacking onto my gas or electric bill? Debit cards? OK, I guess I’ll read on.

The BBB reports that scammers are calling people and claiming to work for a local electric, water or gas company. The callers tell people that they're late on a utility bill and that their service will be cut off if they don't pay immediately. Then they instruct people to purchase a prepaid debit card to pay their bill and call them back with the card number. Thieves then drain the value from the card.


Scammers have turned to prepaid debit cards recently because wire transfer services have increased their fraud detection systems -- making it more difficult for them to use this once-popular method of stealing money from people. Scammers also like prepaid debit cards because they don't have to show a photo ID to collect or spend money on the cards.


For help spotting a utility scam, the BBB offers these tips:

Then the article listed helpful tips like, “Utility companies would never operate with high-pressure tactics like this,” and “it’s a red flag if you are asked to pay by prepaid debit card.”


Who is falling for this? How do you not know if you are behind on your gas payments, and even if you know you’re behind, who would go buy a prepaid debit card to pay the bill? Apparently it works, or it wouldn’t be “growing in popularity” among our nation’s degenerate scallywags.

Since there are obviously people out there who need my help, I have done the Better Business Bureau one better, and developed Smidge’s BBBB tip for spotting a utility scam: Live until you’re old enough to be responsible for paying the utility bill somewhere, then if you are still na├»ve enough to fall for a scam that idiotic, stop what you are doing and call me. I will walk you through whatever process we need to use to have you send me your entire life savings. I will give it all to charity, and you can consider it a valuable lesson and thank me later.

The article reminded me of a letter I received a while back from Ruby Addo Mills. She was the second wife of the late Ghanaian president who died not long ago. She was contacting me in view of the fact that we could be of great assistance to each other. She currently inherited the sum of ninety five million US dollars ($95,000,000.00) which she intended to use for investment purposes, specifically in my country of origin. She was very adamant about the fact that she would obviously never ask me for any of my account details until we met face-to-face in the bank’s vault in any of these three countries of my choice: Madrid, Spain, Johannesburg, South Africa or Kampala, Uganda. For security reasons, she wanted all communications go through her son. She wanted me to send her son, Samuel Kofi Atta Mills, the details to enable her contact me for more details, and she would explain more to me in next detailed fax to me.

Sam never did show up in Kampala like he promised.

Anyway… The end of the article had this to say:

Also, a utility bill scam that began last year has resurfaced. Utility companies in several states, including Kentucky and Tennessee, have received reports from customers who have received calls claiming that the federal goverment will help pay their electric bills. Click here to learn more about this utility bill scam and how to avoid it.

Since “government” was misspelled in the last paragraph, I’m half wondering if the whole thing wasn’t a brilliant double-reverse by some hacker, and the link to learn more was really going to steal my money somehow. Maybe it was going to trick me into paying to read the rest by entering a prepaid debit card number. The only problem with that is, I have an I.Q. above room temperature, and since I have been living a normal financial existence where I keep my money in something called a bank, and pay my bills with things like checks and credit cards, I have no idea where I would go to buy a prepaid debit card.

If it really was a real article, I guess maybe it was aimed at the same folks who care if J Lo is getting a parking ticket, or know where to buy a prepaid debit card.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2013 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this issue in your site. I've read a lot about utility phone scams but I didn't fully understand how the scam is perpetrated. It's great that you discussed each part of the scam article bit by bit for better understanding.

    1. By the way, while Google-ing, I pulled up several complaints posted at that included the phone numbers being used by the scammer. I think you guys should check them, too.

  2. I strive to provide valuable consumer-related services here at Just a Smidge. Thank you for recognizing my hard work and dedication to consumer protectionism.