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RANDY PHILLIPS, PROPRIETOR of the Callicoon Saloon, shows an invoice he received from a Philadelphia company, charging him for services never rendered.

A New Twist
On an Old Trick

By Ted Waddell
CALLICOON — April 17, 2001 – Don’t have enough bills to pay? Want to make a quick buck?
Apparently, the folks at United Pumping Corporation in Philadelphia, Pa. have the answer to both questions: send unsuspecting people an invoice for services that were never rendered and hope they pay it.
The other day, Randy and Lyn Phillips, proprietors of the Callicoon Saloon & Beanery, opened up their daily mail and found a bill for $197.60 from United Pumping Inc., of 7750 Roosevelt Blvd. #313, Philadelphia, Pa. 19152. The invoice dated March 26 said the Phillips owed them for services provided on Feb. 22, including trap pumping, sewer services, pipe cleaning and $15 for “miscellaneous” – at 12 bucks an hour.
The only catch was that these kind of services are provided by local property taxes, so the Phillips called up the local town clerk to see what was going on.
“It’s quite a scam, isn’t it,” said Tess McBeath, clerk for the Town of Delaware. “If some senior citizen gets something like this, they just might look at and pay it, not knowing any better.”
According to Randy Phillips, when he called up the number listed on the invoice (610-986-7097), he got a recording saying, “There’s nobody here to take your message right now,” adding that after the beep a message said that the company’s voice mailbox was full.
What was his reaction when he opened up the letter mailed from southeastern Pennsylvania?
“Oh good, another bill,” said Phillips.
Phillips expressed concern that other new business owners – they’ve owned the local saloon for four years – might not be familiar with what their local taxes provide and unwittingly pay. He was also worried that elderly residents might pay them out of habit.
Local authorities said they have not received any complaints of this apparent scam, however.
Calls to the Philadelphia Police Department (2nd district, N.E. detective division) and the U.S. Postal Inspector’s Office with jurisdiction in that area were not returned.
On Thursday morning, a call was placed to the corporation’s listed number. A pre-recorded message (apparently from the phone company) said, “The number or code you’ve dialed is incorrect. Please check the number or code and try again. Message 161-7.”
According to a Ms. Williams of the Better Business Bureau of Philadelphia, “This firm first came to our attention March 2001. We are attempting to develop information on this company . . . to issue a report to our customers.”
Anyone receiving suspicious or questionable bills is encouraged to call the New York State Police at 292-6600 or the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department at 794-7100.

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