SOUTHLAKE -- Howard Wang's China Grill is expanding into this Tarrant County city with the opening of its third restaurant on July 1.

This here is the main dining area, said Jowin Wang, Howard's son. Our biggest characteristic of our restaurant is our big lanterns.

The younger Wang handles a lot in the family business, but not utility bills.

For that reason, he said it was startling to get a random phone call recently from a man saying another of their restaurants was past due, and if the bill wasn't paid in a half hour, power would be cut off there.

The man, who sounded eager according to Wang, said he was with Texas Electric Providers -- a business he later learned that doesn't exist.

It was a big chunk of change, Jowin admitted, I'll tell you that. I felt pretty silly after it happened.

It was almost $1,800.

Suspicion grew, he said, when the man wanted the cash wired to him with a Green Dot MoneyPak sold at grocery stores. But fearing he might have to close a restaurant, Jowin paid it.

For a lot of small business owners, we're more vulnerable to things like this, because we're not a huge corporation, Wang said. So sometimes things like this can happen.

The Texas Public Utility Commission, which regulates retail electric providers, told News 8 it has not heard of this scam. The PUC points out that its rules require utilities to mail or hand deliver a disconnect notice 10 days before shutting off a customer's electricity.

News 8 called that number of the fake electric company, 214-628-6516.

You just contacted Texas Electricity Providers. All of our agents are busy right now, said a computerized voice recording.

A voicemail was not immediately returned.

Wang hopes his oversight is a warning to others.

He reported the scam to Dallas police and is reconcentrating on growing the family business.


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