Bogus Lorain utility charges hit consumer credit card accounts across the country

May have been cause by billing company error

LORAIN, Ohio - Lorain city hall continues to receive phone calls from upset consumers across the county, after they received unauthorized Lorain utility charges on their credit and debit accounts.

Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer told News 5 investigators in his city and in North Ridgeville are looking into the case, and now believe the bogus charges were generated by an independent billing company error.

Ritenauer confirmed a large number of victims are from North Ridgeville, but said victims are calling in from Florida, Arizona and as far away as Washington State.

"You do feel worried obviously, you feel fearful," said Ritenauer. "We hope all of these bad transactions will be reversed in the coming days."

Cory Kline of North Ridgeville told News 5 he was surprised when he found 31 separate charges of more than $300 each from Lorain utilities on his account.

Kline said he started making phone calls to protect his funds.

"I think it's definitely scary, I mean you really want to keep tabs on it," said Kline. "At first they didn't know, so they told me to call Lorain, and then they told me to call the police. She said they were in the process of switching banks, and that the new bank bank pushed through a bunch of numbers that they weren't supposed to push through, like a merchant number."

Ritenauer told News 5 Lorain never received any funds from the dozens of bogus charges, and issued a general warning to consumers about keeping a close watch on their accounts.

"Credit card statements, debit card statements, go through every line item no matter how tedious it can be," said Ritenauer. "Because during the holiday season it just seems the scams get ratcheted up."

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