, Salem, MA

Local News

January 28, 2014

Phone scammers target Danvers

Businesses told to pay or power would be shut off

DANVERS — Kary Andrinopoulos was working the grill at New Brothers Restaurant and Deli in Danvers Square on Saturday morning when he got a call from a fast-talking man with an overseas accent.

The restaurant was behind on its electric bill, the caller said.

The call caught Andrinopoulos, who co-owns the deli, off guard. There was a line out the door, and this was the first he’d heard about being behind on the bill.

“I was a little upset,” he said.

He argued with the caller, who told him: “ ‘In 45 minutes, I send somebody down to shut off your electricity.’ ”

Andrinopoulos checked his bank records and found he had paid the electric bill to the town on Jan. 14. He even had an employee fetch him a copy of the check from the back office.

But the caller insisted he did not know anything about this payment. He also refused to say who he worked for, only that it was his job to make the call. Andrinopoulos asked to speak with the caller’s supervisor, and someone else came on the line, but he, too, refused to say if he was from the town, which runs a municipal electric division.

At that point, the supervisor, who identified himself as “Ken Smith,” asked Andrinopoulos to make some sort of minimum payment toward the power bill.

Fortunately, that never happened.

Waiting in line for brunch was Selectman David Mills, a former prosecutor and judge, and when Andrinopoulos turned to him for help, Mills alerted other town officials. The deli was up to date on its electric bill, and it avoided losing any money in the scam.

Police Capt. Pat Ambrose said New Brothers was not the only place in town to get hit that day.

“We received somewhere around 25 or so of those calls that came into the station questioning whether or not it was something that was legit,” Ambrose said. Other callers to police just wanted to let officers know a scam was going around.

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