News

Man poses as Essential Energy worker to enter property

WHEN a man dressed in an Essential Energy shirt stopped at Southgate resident Peggy Downes' gate in a white van, she was wary.

Representatives of the electricity company had carried out work on her property the week before, using a master key to enter through the padlocked gate, and their vehicles didn't look much like the one before her.

When he jumped the side gate and approached her, red flags started to pop up.

"He tried to open it and realised he couldn't get through, so jumped the side fence and started walking up to the house," she said.

"I walked down to meet him and he said he was a contractor with Country Energy and had come to replace the power box at the next house over. Country Energy no longer exists so that was the second thing that made me click."

Ms Downes pressed him for identification and the man in crumpled black cargo pants and a pair of sandshoes replied it was in his car, before "sticking his finger up" at her and reversing down the road.

"When I posted it on the Clarence Valley Buy Swap Sell Facebook page, a lady said that guy was in her yard the other day, and so many people said that a person was trying to sell them a dodgy stereo in South Grafton the night before," she said.

Ms Downes said the incident had left her feeling rattled, and as she was unsure of his motives, could have ended up worse had she not been alert.

"I didn't sleep last night at all," she said.

"If I was someone else, god knows what could have happened."

Coffs/Clarence acting crime manager Inspector Peter O'Reilly said investigations into the matter, which took place at around 8.15am on Thursday, were ongoing and encouraged community members to phone police if something similar happened to them.

"It's a good reminder for the public to check credentials -whether it be someone showing up in person or over the phone, people need to be vigilant there's a lot of scammers out there," he said.

"We rely on the community to provide us with information."

Essential Energy North Coast regional manager Brendon Neyland said all Essential Energy representatives carried company identification documents that included the person's name and photograph, which customers can request to view at any time.

"Seeking confirmation of someone's identity provides customers' with a level of comfort that they are dealing with someone authorised to do the job," Mr Neyland said.

"We encourage customers to ask to see identification before allowing anyone to access their property. If the representative will not provide this, ask them to leave."

Topics:  editors picks, essential energy, grafton, scam




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