Central Florida restaurant loses thousands in FPL scam

Beef 'O'Brady's pays $3,000 to scammer claiming to be Florida Power & Light

MELBOURNE, Fla. - A Melbourne restaurant lost thousands of dollars after falling victim to a scammer claiming to be electric power utility company Florida Power & Light.

The scam has been going on for more than a year and it's not just FPL -- it's with other utilities throughout the country.

Ken Worthy had hungry customers when he received a call saying his restaurant owed the power company nearly $3,000.

"It said FPL on the caller ID, so automatically in a middle of a rush, we're just thinking of ways to get it paid so we don't get shut off," said Worthy.

So Worthy got prepaid cards and paid the man on the phone, thinking it was FPL. But two days later FPL came to Beef 'O'Brady's on Babcock Street to shut off the power.

That's when Worthy realized he actually paid a scammer.

"When you have somebody call you and say this is your account number, and they know exactly what you owe and what you paid, you automatically think it's legit," he said.

Worthy thinks the scammer somehow gets FPL customer information through their automated phone system.

"That's very dangerous," said Worthy. "I would think that FPL would have a fail-safe to keep people from getting that type of information that easily."

FPL spokesman Bill Orlove told Local 6, "It's unfortunate that scammers are using that to their advantage," but "FPL will never ask for personal information over the phone unless the customer initiates the call and we will never ask for payment of a bill by credit card or a prepaid card."

"Obviously somebody's learned how to scam this system," said Worthy.

Local 6 asked FPL if they think there's a security flaw in their automated phone system, but a spokesman said their system is "an industry standard."

FPL says customers should never give out personal information over the phone and call police right away if they think something is wrong. FPL has a lot of helpful ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim to this type of scam.

Copyright 2014 by ClickOrlando.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.