Familiar scam hits Hillsborough Co laundromats - WFLA News Channel 8

Familiar scam hits Hillsborough Co laundromats

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Laundromat owner Ben Donato was nearly scammed out of hundreds of dollars Laundromat owner Ben Donato was nearly scammed out of hundreds of dollars
The Town N' Country Laundromat was targeted by scammers The Town N' Country Laundromat was targeted by scammers
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - Keeping the washers and dryers going at the Town N' Country Laundromat takes a lot of power. Out of the blue, Ben Donato got a call on Saturday, threatening to cut off his electricity unless he paid almost a thousand dollars. The caller was specific. "Well, what you have to do is go to a Walmart he said, and get a Money Pak."

Money Pak is a pre-paid debit card available at places like Walmart and Walgreens. As Donato raced to the store to buy one, the man called several times. "I believed it. But when he gave me the wrong account numbers," said Donato, he smelled a rat and didn't pay.

Cherie Jacobs from Tamp Electric Company says this scam is 2-years-old but activity has picked up in the last three to six months. "We will never call you and demand payment over the phone and we will never call you and demand that you go buy a debit card to pay your bill." she said.

Scammers are using Magic Jack devices that provide cheap phone service over the internet making it tough to trace calls. "Tampa Electric is working with Magic Jack to help disconnect some of these phone numbers. Jacobs says TECO, working with law enforcement, disconnected more than 30 Magic Jack numbers in the past three months. 
 
News Channel 8 On Your Side called the number the laundromat owners were called from. But only got a recording saying, thank you for calling the "disconnect team."

Laundromat owner Marcie Reale, is frustrated she cannot get law enforcement attention for her case. "But everybody kept telling me, they can't do anything until a crime is committed. No crime has been committed. No money has changed hands. "

But Reale says she knows a laundromat owner that got taken for about $800.


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