Scammers posing as local utility workers target KCK business owner

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Scammers are posing as local utility workers in an attempt to con business owners.

On Thursday, Brandi Biswell was at her business on Southwest Boulevard when she noticed something strange. There was a man dressed as a utility worker, driving what appeared to be a marked trucked who pulled up to her shop, approached the business and turned around.

“In the security footage, he has on a yellow vest and a mask that`s covered over his nose,” Biswell said, pointing to her computer monitor.

She suddenly received a phone call. A man threatened to disconnect her utilities unless she paid at least half her bill, which was close to a $1,000 this month. The person on the line claimed to be from KCP&L.

“I said to KCPL, ‘We’re in Kansas City, Kansas,’” Biswell recalled. “We don’t have KCPL. We have BPU, and he said, ‘We all subcontract.’”

Biswell found it odd because her husband paid the bill in full three days ago, yet there was a “representative” on the line and that man, posing as utility working, waiting outside her business.

“We’re a chimney and fireplace company,” Biswell said. “It’s the biggest time of year, so I need the power and computers and phone to work.”

Biswell called BPU to confirm that they had received her bill, only to find out she wasn’t the first person to call the utility company with a similar concern.

“The customer service lady at BPU realized she had another business call yesterday with that exact scripting and story,” Biswell said.

FOX4 reached out to BPU and a spokesman for the utility company said he wasn’t surprised to hear of the scam because “there are always people impersonating utility workers.”

However, he stressed that BPU will never show up to a business or home to disconnect services without first sending multiple notices. The spokesman also said those notices would come well in advance of a utility worker showing up at your property.

“I wasn’t thinking right,” Biswell said.

The scammers didn’t get away with any of her money, but she wanted to warn other business owners to be cautious and ask a lot of questions if something similar happens.

“I feel very vulnerable and sad that I let myself be in that position and almost turned over my credit card information just to make it go away,” Biswell said.

The number Biswell was given to call was 1-800-838-6940. When FOX4 tried calling the number Thursday evening, it had been disconnected.