Both SECO Energy and TECO Energy published statements warning customers of an alarming scam.
“We have heard of that and it’s repulsive to think that people would take advantage of the situation and impersonate our line workers or our staff,” said Bill Orlove, a spokesperson for FPL.
Orlove said he based his belief in the reality of the robberies on the fact that the head of public relations at FPL mentioned them in statements to media.
FPL customers and Marion County residents are those targeted by the robberies, according to SECO’s press release.
But the Marion County Sheriff’s Office put out a Facebook post titled: RUMOR CONTROL-PEOPLE POSING AS ELECTRIC WORKERS.“You may have seen a post on social media that Marion County citizens are being robbed at gunpoint in their homes by individuals posing as electric workers. Beware of internet/social media rumors, we have not received any calls regarding this,” said the Sheriff’s office.
The Lakeland Police Department echoed that warning in another Facebook post.
Similar scams of con artists posing as utility workers attempting to take advantage of disaster victims by asking for cash or immediate payment for repair work have reportedly occurred.
SECO could not be reached for a comment, their line was busy, likely due to a flood of calls from customers reporting outages or reporting downed power lines.
TECO, which only provides journalists with an email contact, also has not responded to a request for a comment.
The original TECO post continues to confuse those worried about the risk, however. That’s because the rumor was given official endorsement after the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office shared it on Facebook.
This led Facebook users to doubt later posts from other police agencies warning that the rumor was untrue. Some also posted that the scam was indeed happening to them.
In those cases, robbers posing as utility workers gained access to victims’ homes and then robbed them, sometimes tying them up in the process.