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Restaurant owner warns of 'convincing' RG&E scam

(WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. (13WHAM) - Jason Herbert says in his 20 years in the restaurant industry, he's never experienced as elaborate a phone scam as the one he encountered Tuesday.

One of his employees answered the phone first from the caller claiming to be a RG&E employee, saying his restaurant's utilities would be shut off if he didn't pay nearly $1,500 within minutes.

"There was a message, very similar to RG&E's message of, 'Wait on the line for the next available operator,' so I did," said Herbert, the owner of Edible's. "They told me unless I paid them $1,498 in cash, that they would come and turn off the service."

He says he's never behind on his bills, but he quickly became frazzled when the voice on the other end of the phone gave him the deadline.

"I just knew I had 30 minutes to get cash, and I was actually kind of panicked," said Herbert.

Until that point, he was convinced he had money to pay, and fast, or else his restaurant wouldn't be operational.

Then came the questionable request for payment, even after he offered to walk cash down to RG&E himself.

"They said they'd need me to buy a pack of prepaid cards, and once I bought that, I was to call them back with the number on the back," Herbert said.

He said the caller recommended he find a store like Dollar General to purchase the cards.

That's when he hung up the phone and called RG&E himself.

"I called the real RG&E, and they had told me they had gotten many many calls about this and it's fake," Herbert said.

Now, when Herbert calls the number, the only message he hears is a voice telling him the line has been disconnected.

Both RG&E and the Better Business Bureau offer several tips on helping to prevent falling victim to scams.

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