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Additional scam details emerge

In the past week, at least four Kenmare businesses have been contacted by a man posing as a power company employee.

4/22/14 (Tue)

By Marvin Baker

In the past week, at least four Kenmare businesses have been contacted by a man posing as a power company employee.

Penny Sigloh, who operates three businesses called One Stop, was called twice, on Monday and Thursday.

Donna Schlosser, who operates the City Limits Bar & Bottleshop, said one of her employees took a similar call on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, Stan Freeman, owner of Freeman Oil, said one of his employees received a similar call and took a message.

Apparently, the method of operation is that a man with an Indian or Pakistani accent, is calling businesses telling them that if they don’t send money within 30 minutes, the power will be cut off.

In all four cases in Kenmare, all four businesses had their electricity bills current.

Schlosser said her employee took a message with an out-of-state telephone number, called it and got a voice message.

Unlike Sigloh, Schlosser said the man never said he was from Montana-Dakota Utilities, but instead said “the power company.”

Much like Schlosser’s situation, Freeman’s employee took a message with the stern warning that power would be cut off if money wasn’t sent.

Freeman said he tried to call back and the number he was given continued to ring without a phone message.

The phone number origination, at least with Sigloh, was 802-822-0333, a Provo, Utah number issued to a West Palm Beach, Fla.,  business called Y Max Communications.

The Kenmare News contacted Provo telephone company Integra Telecom on Monday, and although a receptionist said there was nothing about a scam circulating in the company internally, it was confirmed that Y Max Communications pays the bill on that telephone number.

According to Mark Hanson, public information director at MDU in Bismarck, if anyone gets a similar call, business or residence, do not send money.

Hanson said MDU will never cut off power within 30 minutes without first making numerous attempts.

Instead, if anyone suspects foul play, hang up and call MDU in Bismarck to get bona fide information, Hanson said.

Sigloh cautioned that if anyone gets a call like she did, contact the police or the power company right away.

Liz Bracker, a public information specialist with the N.D. Attorney General’s Office said telephone scamming is outside the scope of the Attorney General’s Office and falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission.

Bracker said someone usually off shore will pick a number at random, in this case a Provo, Utah number, and use it as their own. She said it’s called spoofing technology.

Bracker said spoofing technology has been going on in North Dakota about seven years and seldom does she interact with the true holder of the number being used in the scam.

Bracker said she isn’t aware of specific laws against telephone fraud and referred us to the federal jurisdiction.

The FCC didn’t immediately return requests for information regarding the Kenmare scam or laws against telephone scams.

The Kenmare News will continue to track this operation should more businesses in Kenmare or neighboring communities be targeted... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!