Scam artists target the elderly

The Brooklyn Paper
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Con artists posing as National Grid workers are preying on the elderly in Coney Island.

“This is a major concern,” Renee McClure, a community affairs rep for National Grid, said at last week’s Community Board 13 meeting at Coney Island Hospital.

Workers are going door-to-door, often targeting senior citizens, and asking to see residents’ energy bills. Then, without the residents’ consent, the workers switch them from National Grid to a new service provider.

“They’re taking your account info and they’re switching you to their services,” McClure explained.

There is nothing illegal about rival companies soliciting residents.

“We [National Grid] just transport the gas,” McClure said. “Other organizations are allowed to supply the gas.”

However, the methods being used are illegal, McClure said.

“They have a right to sell but not in the manner in which is being done,” she told residents. “You have the right to choose the company you want but we’re asking you to look at what is going on and to read the fine print.”

Community Board 13 member Todd Dobrin said two women posing as National Grid workers recently knocked on his door and asked to see his energy bill. The women refused to show identification when asked.

Sometimes, the workers claim to be National Grid employees. Other times, they say they work for the Brooklyn Union Gas Company, which no longer exists.

“There’s a van going around calling itself Brooklyn Union Maintenance,” McClure said. “They’ve been breaking things [in homes] that will cause you to get them fixed.”

“If you see a truck that says Brooklyn Union, please call the police,” she continued.

McClure asked locals to be cautious if someone comes to their home and inquires about energy bills.

“National Grid does not do door-to-door solicitati­ons,” she said.

National Grid workers would only visit homes to “turn off service or to address some kind of gas service. Any other reason, they are not National Grid,” McClure said.

Also, official National Grid employees will always carry ID, she noted.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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