The owner of a Niagara Falls Boulevard restaurant told Niagara County Sheriff's deputies Sunday that he had been the victim of fraud.
The owner said about noon Sunday he received a phone call from a man identifying himself as Rick from National Grid. "Rick" told the owner that he had not received payment for the restaurant's utility bill and if he wanted to avoid imminent shut off of power and gas he had to pay the bill over the phone using Green Dot loaded credit cards.
The owner said he traveled to several local drug stores to pick up enough cards to pay the $1,725 bill. He then called "Rick" back and provided the numbers from the cards.
A short time later, the owner said he determined he had already paid the utility bill and called National Grid. They told the owner "Rick" was not one of their representatives and the phone number (914 area code) was not one of their numbers.
A deputy tried to call "Rick" but the number was out of service. The owner told deputies "Rick" seemed to be speaking with a Middle Eastern accent. The owner was in the process of trying to cancel the payments through Green Dot.