Hell's Bitchen

'Tis the season for an energy scam

By Kelly Kreth  |
December 13, 2012 - 10:57AM

Building security has been a continuous issue since I moved here because of my not-so-super super. Over the course of my time here he has propped the building’s doors open with rocks and allowed various miscreants entry into the building.

This week was no different although with a new and decidedly distasteful twist. Around three o’clock in the afternoon I was working (and by working I mean dicking around on the internet) and my bell rang.

When I asked who it was I got no response so I didn’t buzz the mystery person in. The building lock is always sticking and we all have trouble getting in even with the proper door key so it is not unusual for tenants to ring others’ bells to gain entrance. However, we always identify ourselves explaining the key was sticking. It’s usually fine but several times over the last month I’ve been awakened at 3 a.m.

(FYI, the super doesn’t have a bell. How convenient!)

A few minutes after I ignored the the bell my actual apartment doorbell rang, and I got a weird feeling. I didn’t open the door and instead asked who it was.

A woman said her name was Tamesha, and she was there to give me an energy rebate. I told her she could just leave it outside the door and she said, “No you need to open your door.” 

Of course I was not going to do that, and I could hear at least one other person with her. She persisted and insisted I open the door. I told her if she was really with an energy company she could just mail any rebate or correspondence. Annoyed, she said she would return after the first of the year. Odd! 

I could hear people now loudly knocking on my neighbors’ doors demanding to get in. Across the hall my Arabic neighbor who does not speak English well opened her door and was told by Tamesha she is with IDT and wanted to know if my neighbor had ConEd because she had a rebate for her.

My neighbor said she did have ConEd and Tamesha demanded to see her bill because she wanted to see her name, address and account number. My now-scared neighbor explained in broken English she did not have a bill with her and Tamesha aggressively directed her to go find one. 

My neighbor asked if she had a check for her and the woman said no, she could only get her rebate if she gave over her bill. At this point I was sure something nefarious was going on and was about to call 911. My dog was barking crazily and growling at the commotion outside. No other neighbors answered the aggressive door banging. I quickly Googled “IDT energy scam” and sure enough I was right! [Do it;  it’s fun.]

These women were not here to offer a rebate from ConEd but rather were trying to scam me and my neighbors into unwittingly switching to IDT. They take the information on your energy bill and use it to switch you over to IDT without consent all under the guise of giving you a rebate check then and there.

I was glad at least it was only a scam and not anything more dangerous. Still I was really annoyed.The commotion continued and so I finally called 911 and alerted them there were trespassers in my building causing loud chaos and although not dangerous, they were scammers trying to take advantage of immigrants in the building. 

The 911 operator asked me to get a description of them, asking whether they were black, white or Hispanic. I explained I had not opened the door so I could not tell. I told the operator the head woman identified herself as Tamesha from IDT.

The operator informed me the police were notified and again asked if I could peek out my door to get a full description and alert her of how many people were in the building. Against my better judgment—I didn’t want to get stabbed!—I opened the door a crack saw they were right at the door of the other neighbor on my floor. I began to describe what each of the four women looked like and they all stared at me.

I explained they needed to leave, were trespassing and I was on the phone with 911. Clearly they didn’t like this and started yelling. I wanted to just slam the door shut, locking it and wait for the police, but at that moment my dog, Mini, ran out of the apartment and toward them. 

Now I was worried they would hurt the dog or possibly take him or that he would fall down the stairs, but I also didn’t want to go chasing him right into their den and potentially put myself in danger. 911 remained on the phone and annoyingly kept asking what color coats each were wearing as I explained that would have to wait a second because my dog was out and in possible danger.

I finally got the dog to come back on his own, while the women screamed at me for being an asshole for calling the cops.

They told me the super had said it was ok to go upstairs. Damn that super! 

They left on their own accord finally and about an HOUR AND A HALF later a lone cop showed up ringing my doorbell.

I explained why I had called and what I had Googled. He asked again for a description and said he was going to walk around the neighborhood looking for the women.

I was incredulous; they had left over an hour and a half before and there was little chance they’d still be on the block. Duh. 

I explained they had said they’d return to the building after the first of the year and he replied, “Well I am working  in Times Square that day.” Surely I was living in some sort of a Bizarro-world. I re-explained that I didn’t mean they said they’d be there New Year’s Day, simply sometime after the first of the year, and that I did not expect him to wait around until then.

Shaking my head--imagining this daft cop camping out in my stairwell for the remainder of the month--I closed my door, and mentally cursed my super. I suspect the next edition of the super chronicles will highlight him haplessly inviting a serial killer up to ravage the tenants all the while holding the door open for him. I suspect his plan from the start is to have us all killed so he can take over the building so he’d never have to put the garbage out (unrecycled) again.  

See all Hell's Bitchen. 

Also by Kelly Kreth:

15 things I've learned from 'Million Dollar Listing NY' so far

The 20 deadly sins NYC rental agents should never commit (but do)

Escape from the UES: Goodbye douchebaggery, hello Hell's Kitchen

Dear Neighbor: I am your worst nightmare

Living next to a bridge & tunnel club: KY Jelly wrestling, all-night noise, no regrets



Kelly Kreth

Contributing writer

Contributing writer Kelly Kreth has been a freelance journalist, essayist, and columnist for more than two decades. Her real estate articles have appeared in The Real Deal, Luxury Listings, Our Town, and amNewYork. A long-time New York City renter who loves a good deal, Kreth currently lives in a coveted rent-stabilized apartment in a luxury building on the Upper East Side.

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.