Jan. 13--NATCHEZ -- At least two people reported a phone scam wherein a person posing as an Entergy representative threatens to shut off electricity if the customer does not send money immediately.
Richie Walcott, the accountant for Monmouth Historic Inn, said she received a call at approximately 10:15 a.m. Friday at the antebellum house requesting immediate payment.
"He said he had a disconnect order for our account, and Monmouth has eight accounts," she said. "I asked him which one, and he told me that was privileged information."
Walcott said she knew the call sounded suspicious, but she asked the speaker, who called himself Louis, for a customer service number.
Upon calling the number he gave her, Walcott said she reached a recording answering service that sounded legitimate. The verbiage of the recording, she said, was very similar to that of Entergy's answering service.
"What scared me was how real it sounded and for someone who doesn't know ... " she said. "I could just see someone falling for that."
Walcott reported the information to the Natchez Police Department and gave them the phone number from which the scammer called and the faux-customer service number the caller provided.
Down the road at Devereaux Shields House, Eleanor and Ronald Frye received a similar call asking for an immediate payment of $498.
Eleanor Frye said the caller provided a work order number as well as a customer service number, which she said her husband called.
"They were saying there was a glitch in the system and they hadn't received our November or December payments," she said. "December's bill is not due yet."
Entergy Customer Service Representative Tim Runnels said this type of scam has operated for years in the Natchez area.
"They've copied our style and it's very deceiving," Runnels said. "But customers should know we never call to solicit money over the phone."
Payments, Runnels said, are made primarily online, in person or if the customer calls the phone-payment option.
Never, he said, would a representative call to request payment.
"People have fallen for it before," he said.
Captain Scott Frye of the Natchez Police Department said scams of this nature are damaging, but unfortunately common.
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