New phone scam involves OPPD and homes for sale

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - In the last two days, OPPD's call center had 13 reports of scam attempts, and 12 involved a new twist.

The scam tried to use real estate agents to cheat the utility's customers.

Two homes that sit next to each other on a Millard street are both for sale.

A neighbor's doorbell camera caught a black SUV as it parked and sat out in front of the houses for five minutes. After it drove off, the phone calls started.

"About four o'clock I got a call from my real estate agent saying that an OPPD person claiming to be them had called her and said she had a disconnect notice for this property," Ashley Schmidt, who owns one of the homes for sale said. "They gave her a phone number and a disconnect order number."

The caller also asked if the house was occupied.

The neighbors' real estate agent got the same call.

6 News tried calling the 800 number that the caller left.

"Helmut Martin is not available at the moment," the voice on the line said.

Reporters left a message, but no call was returned.

"We've heard a lot of different angles, but this one, this is the first time I've heard this," Jodi Baker with OPPD said.

Baker said the possibility of a connection between the black SUV and the calls is troubling.

"Certainly it escalates things when you hear about an in-person encounter or a vehicle in front of somebody's home. It's certainly concerning and we want to warn people anytime you feel threatened certainly call police," she said.

Schmidt saw through the scam.

"It's today's world, unfortunately. When I talked to the OPPD rep, he said it's pretty common and that unfortunately there are people that do pay these people," she said.

OPPD officials said that if anyone calls saying that you owe money and is aggressive in trying to collect it, hang up. It's okay to ask OPPD employees to provide their identification or call the utility at 402-536-4131.