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UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. (KSDK) - At Tokyo Seafood Buffet in the 8000 block of Olive Boulevard in University City, restaurant owner May Lin will have to sell some extra food to make up for the $500 she paid to a scam artist.

Last Saturday, a man who identified himself as Terry Powers called the restaurant and threatened to shut off the electricity if he didn't receive $500 immediately. Lin offered to use her credit card to pay.

"The credit card not quick enough," Lin said, recalling what she was told by the scam artist.

The man instructed Lin to go to a nearby Walgreens and buy a Money Pak card which allows you to put a certain amount of money on the card. Lin put $500 on the card. The man demanded the PIN number on back of the card, and just like that, Lin's money was gone.

The BBB warns that using a Money Pak card and then turning over the PIN number is just like giving cash and it's not traceable. Perfect for a scam artist.

Several miles to the west in Creve Coeur, the Thai Nivas Cafe in the 11000 block of Olive received the same scam phone call, also from a man identifying himself as Terry Powers. This time he demanded $998 from restaurant co-owner Kesiree Muneenam.

Instead of buying a Money Pak from Walgreens, Muneenam checked her records.

"I check my statement. I saw that I already paid online," said Muneenam.

Ameren Missouri spokesperson Trina Muniz says customers need to know that Ameren would never operate that way.

"We want to assure you that we would never ask for a payment over the phone, ask for your Social Security number, or your account number," said Muniz. "We have all that information in-house."

Advice that's several days too late for May Lin.

"I know what to do right now," she said.

Recently, Ameren Missouri sent a warning to news media about phone scams targeting electric customers. Ameren is cautioning customers to watch out for phone calls from people who threaten disconnection of electric service unless a payment is made immediately.

Ameren's advice is to immediately hang up when someone uses intimidation to obtain payment, then call Ameren at 1-800-552-7583.

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