A Long Con Doesn’t Go Very Far

Philip’s story reminds us of We’re reminded of The Spanish Prisoner where the the rube thinks he’s signing an exclusive membership agreement. It turns out he’s really putting his name to an extradition request to Venezuela which later gets used against him in a Machiavellian conman apparatchik.

Anyone heard of US Energy Saver? We haven’t and neither has Philip or his wife who was approached by a representative of their company offering locked-in savings on natural gas.

Assuming that the company named in the story after the jump is fraudulent, what scam could they be trying to perpetuate? And why would he keep the ripped up, voided contract pieces in his pocket…

Philip writes:

    “The background: I’m actually writing on behalf of my wife who had an odd visitor yesterday. My wife is Japanese and so not a native speaker of English and works as a bookkeeper/assistant at a Japanese hydraulics company.

    Yesterday a man in a suit wearing what appeared to be some sort of “official government ID” on a lanyard around his neck entered her company and said that he was from “US Energy Saver,” and was offering a way to “lock in” a set price for Natural Gas over the next five years. He asked to see the lateset Nicor bill to make sure that they were “eligible.”

    Of course, they were eligible! Big surprise! My wife, thinking that it was some sort of governmental agency signed the contract at which point the “gentleman” (I use the term loosely) asked to use the phone. This perked my wife’s suspicion and she ran and got one of the salesmen in the office to check things out. The salesman explained that they don’t need this “service” and “We’ll think about it.” The US Energy Saver guy then tried to put the pressure on by saying “You don’t have time to decide later, it will be too late and the gas prices will already go up!”

    In the end, the salesman had the US Energy Saver guy write VOID across the contract and tear it up. Here is the strange part. He didn’t discard the pieces of the contract, he put them in his pocket and left…

    At long last, here is the question. I’ve googled US Energy Saver, and Natural Gas Scam and came up blank. Has anyone heard of this before? I can’t figure out the angle here…any help would be appreciated.

    Very Truly Yours,

    Phillip L.”

Comments

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  1. KevinQ says:

    My best guess is that it was a simple high-pressure sales attempt, and he took the contract to keep anybody from reading it or, possibly, posting it to the internet. Not that it was necessarily illegal, but it would probably have the company’s contact information, and if he suspects that your wife’s experience was “less than stellar,” then he might not want to get an irate phone call.

    K

  2. CatMoran says:

    I have two guesses:

    1 – The contract was for something entirely different than what Phillip’s wife thought she was signing. Hopefully, it won’t go through ripped up with VOID written on it.

    2 – The ‘salesman’ was there for information. Did Phillip’s wife provide anything besides her signature?

  3. Jay Levitt says:

    Could this be a version of the “printer supplies” scam, where they get someone’s (usually verbal) approval to start sending invoices to the accounting department, in the hopes that it’ll approve them on the assumption that they were properly authorized?

    If you actually had someone’s signature on the contract, you could push that scam a lot further, with collection agencies and what not.

  4. crayonshinobi says:

    Hi, Phil here, according to my wife the only information the guy could have gotten was anything on the Nicor bill.

    The “printer supplies” scam is a possiblity, seems like an awful lot of trouble to go through to get a signature, but I wouldn’t put it past them!

  5. itsme says:

    uhhhhhh thats US Energy Savings, one of the largest energy suppliers in North America, not : us energy saver” as you referred to it. They are part of the Energy Savings Group, a publicly traded 2 billion dollar company. They are fairly new in Nicor territory, having started participating in Nicor’s Customer Select Program for about 3 years