East County business owner duped in utility scam

Posted at 5:09 PM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 22:28:43-05

An East County businessman wants to warn everyone in San Diego County about an elaborate phone scam targeting San Diego Gas & Electric customers.

Dave Landman, owner of the Jacumba Hot Springs Spa and the De Anza Springs Resort, considers himself a pretty good businessman.

"Yes, and that's why this interview is a little bit painful," Landman said to 10News while standing outside of the spa he purchased and renovated three years ago.

The interview was painful because Landman had to admit he got duped.

"This hurts. It's insulting to me to think I fell for this," he added.

Last week, Landman said he got a call from a man who identified himself as an SDG&E contractor.

"They had disconnect orders and he'd be here in about 45 minutes," Landman remembered. "They knew everything. They knew I had multiple accounts. They knew the amount, approximate amount of my last payment … He sold me on it because he knew so much and he was so informed on my accounts."

The little voice in his head tried to warn him.

"I know this is a scam. It can't be correct, but we had a full house," Landman said.

Check-in at his spa was full that night and he couldn't risk a spa and lodge without any power.

"The potential loss was bigger than the $700 they said I owed," he told 10News.

Landman said the ruse continued, even after he paid, for almost 45 minutes. The scammer gave Landman confirmation numbers, contact numbers and even gave him a deal.

'"Not only will we reimburse you,'" Landman quoted. "'But we will give you a 15 percent discount on all of your bills.'"

Landman paid the man and regretted it almost immediately. He spoke to a San Diego business owner the next day who said she received the same call.

"Word for word, but she said, 'I called SDG&E,'" said Landman.

SDG&E confirmed to her and 10News it would never cut your power without sending a notice first.

Landman was the victim of a clever con, and he wanted to make sure everyone was smarter than him.

"If there's two of us, there's got to be dozens and these are getting away with this money," said Landman.

Click here for SDG&E's website warning people about payment scams.