PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The butcher shop on Butler Street in Lawrenceville is a place that needs to stay cool. If it doesn’t, their product spoils pretty fast.

That’s way a call late Wednesday freaked out owner Mike Rado.

“I’m a small business owner, you shut my power off, I’m going to lose $10,000 to $15,000 worth of product,” said Rado. “I’m done, I’m sunk.”

Here’s what happened: con artists called him, had his account numbers, balance, everything regarding his Duquesne Light bill. They wanted $1,000 to keep his lights on.

“If I hadn’t been so ticked off, I would have paid them,” said Rado.

Meanwhile, the same scam attempt also happened over at the Smallman Street Deli.

“They said they were Duquesne Light, they were going to shut off our electricity,” said Jeff Cohen, the owner of the Smallman Street Deli. “Basically saying we had not paid our bills.”

In the middle of handling sandwich orders, a frantic employee called Cohen.

“This could be a problem, especially for a business or seniors. I mean senior citizens could be scared to death,” said Cohen. “People are going to get scared when they shut off your electricity. It sounds legit.”

Butcher on Butler and the Smallman Street Deli didn’t lose a nickel. However, some businesses have.

Duquesne Light is all over this scam. Truth is, it has been out there for months. KDKA reported on two businesses that got ripped off this way in the last year.

Duquesne Light offers some money saving tips:

  • The company will never call you the day of a scheduled termination. Never. There is plenty of warning.
  • Never buy a pre-paid debit card for Duquesne Light. They don’t sell them.
  • Also, never let anyone in your house who claims to represent Duquesne Light unless it is a pre-scheduled appointment.
  • If you have any doubt, call Duquesne Light.

“We never call and say, if you don’t pay today… the termination would never be that same day,” said Brian Knavish, a Duquesne Light spokesperson.

KDKA’s Marty Griffin: “You never send people out to someone’s house without an appointment and say I want to see your meter?”

Knavish: “You would have an appointment if we needed to get in your house.”

Meanwhile, no one knows how the scam artists are getting the information. Duquesne Light has a lot of people looking at it and they have several theories.

However, until the cons are caught, they want folks to calm down and call them before anyone gets ripped off.

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