Police Warn: Phone Scammers Claim to be From DTE
(Farmington Hills Police, Jan. 22, 2021)
Note: This story is from the Farmington Hills Police, but several area departments have been issuing similar warnings.
The Farmington Hills Police Department is investigating a recent string of frauds. Multiple citizens have received phone calls from persons posing as DTE employees, threatening to cut off their power if their “past due” bills aren’t paid.
The citizens are instructed to travel to what are described as “the nearest DTE payment center,” which is provided to them by the caller. What they are actually being directed to is a Bitcoin machine. The scammer will then send what appears to be an authentic QR access code, which includes the DTE logo.
The resident will deposit cash into the machine, using the QR access code. Once the money is deposited into the Bitcoin machine, it cannot be returned to you. In some instances, the caller will attempt to convince the resident that they have not deposited the required amount and try to get them to deposit more money.
The Farmington Hills Police Department wants to remind everyone that no legitimate business or utility will demand payment be rendered with Bitcoin.
This scam first surfaced in the metro area in 2019 and appears to be making a resurgence. DTE had published a warning back then to its customers, and per the DTE website, if you suspect the call may be fraudulent, hang up and call DTE at their toll-free number 800-477-4747. Ask to be connected to a customer service representative and explain to them what occurred.
As a general rule, do not answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize. If you receive a voicemail directing you to make payments through either Bitcoin or gift cards, locate the actual company phone number online. Do not call back the number that was left on the voicemail. Either call the company or log in to your personal accounts to verify if the call was legitimate, or a scam. If you are unable to reach anyone at the actual company, call your local police department before sending any payments.
Anyone who believes they were scammed is asked to make a report with their local police department. If you have any information regarding these scams, please call the Farmington Hills Police Command Desk at 248-871-2610.