Elm Grove business owner fights back against scammer

CREATED Jun 4, 2014

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ELM GROVE -- A business owner's call to police paid off when scammers tried to steal thousands of dollars through a phone scam. 

It's a ploy that many people in our area are all too familiar with: a person poses as a WE Energies employee trying to get money from the person on the other end of the line. 

"My manager got a phone call," said Jon Zimmerman. He owns Jilly's Car Wash and Gas Station. The call came in April.

"He was just basically pressuring us and telling the facility we were going to shut down.

The caller claimed the station's We Energies bill was overdue and power would be shut off within an hour. Zimmerman knew they were NOT behind on their bill.

"We basically, to make a long story short ended up giving him some money to keep our business up and running," said Zimmerman.

After making a payment over the phone with pre paid utility cards - Jon had a sick feeling.

"We quickly figured out we were involved in a scam."

We Energies has taken 1,600 calls about this scam with a vast majority NOT losing money.A warning is on the company's website.

Jon did call the Elm Grove Police even though he had heard stories the scammers were in another country.

"That there's no way this is happening in the U.S. and that's why no one would be able to find them and this guy was living a very nice life in Florida.

In fact, Elm Grove Police went to Florida Wednesday and arrested Samuel Petit-Frere with the help of Florida Law Enforcement. He has been charged in Waukesha County with theft .

"They deserve all the credit the Elm Grove Police did follow up," said Zimmerman.

According to the criminal complaint, there could be even more victims of this scam throughout Waukesha County and the surrounding area. Police are still following the investigation.