Entergy scammers target St. John businesses with cutoff threats

Published 12:13 am Saturday, September 16, 2017

LAPLACE — Janet Mollere was suspicious when a representative from Entergy called Monday morning, threatening to shut off the electricity in her family-owned furniture store in LaPlace if she didn’t immediately pay two bills adding to a total of more than $1,000.

The first call came from 1-800-584-1241. Soon after, Mollere was directed to call 844-526-2525, ext. 201, and speak to a woman named Claire Smith.

“I knew those two bills had already been paid,” Mollere said. “I told them I had proof my checks cleared, but they wouldn’t listen. They kept insisting I had to pay within 45 minutes.”

Though she was weary of the caller’s intentions, Mollere said she couldn’t dismiss the possibility of it being real because they had access to her account number. In addition, the bills matched the amount Entergy typically charges to maintain her store.

Concerned about the possibility of the power shutting off, Mollere’s husband, Keven, urged her to pay the bills instead of taking the risk. She listened, but after the money was paid, it was only a matter of hours before the same number contacted her again and asked for an additional $500.

By that point, Mollere realized she and her husband were being scammed and took necessary steps, including contacting the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Major C.J. Destor is working to track down the scammer and get Mollere’s money back. According to Destor, there have been multiple cases of the same Entergy scam in Assumption Parish.

Through his investigation, Destor discovered no one named Claire Smith works for Entergy. He suspects the fake numbers trace back to New York and plans to issue subpoena requests as soon as possible. He plans to contact the real Entergy and figure out why the spoof numbers link to company voice recordings.

“Don’t let anyone buffalo you into thinking you didn’t pay your bills when you know you paid them,” Destor said.

He also urged community members to be cautious of callers asking for money and to never agree to pay bills or purchase money packs in an unapproved location.

Mollere hopes to raise awareness in the community so others do not fall victim.

“I just want to warn everybody else,” Mollere said. “People work too hard for their money to throw it away to these scammers who just sit around all day.”

She said anyone who receives a suspicious call should “hang up and never pay them anything.”

“If it’s real, you’ll get a letter first before they come in and shut the lights off. If you have to, go to the bank like I did and get proof of your (payment),” Mollere said.

— By Brooke Robichaux