HARMONY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Detectives say that arresting a man pretending to be a Duke Energy worker is only the beginning of an unraveling case.
Investigators say a man told customers that if they would pay up, he promised to get them cheaper utility bills. Still, they didn’t know that, according to investigators, he was illegally tampering with electric meters to cheat the system.
Duke Energy knew something was up.
Suddenly, they noticed that North Carolina customers had cheap utility bills.
That’s when sheriff’s investigators say they traced everything to an accused imposter living in the small town of Harmony in Iredell County.
Not everyone in Harmony is in harmony.
“A lot of people have experienced hurts elsewhere and may move just to be let alone,” said James Miller, the suspect’s neighbor.
Neighbors don’t always know one another, but detectives say some put their trust in Mark Absher.
Investigators say he went door-to-door, pretending to be a Duke Energy worker and cashing in on the promise to give customers cheaper energy bills.
“People may seem desperate sometimes and turn to desperate means, but they need to keep hope and to not to turn to some scam in order to make a living,” said Miller.
When people said they wanted lower bills, investigators say Absher made them pay $250 to $400, and he re-calibrated their power meters to drive down the price on their accounts.
When detectives raided Absher’s home in Harmony, they say they found items that belong to Duke Energy.
Miller says he’s not judging.
“Although that’s pretty low to target those who are the most vulnerable, there’s hope for him too,” said Miller.
Absher is in jail under a $400,000 bond and was charged with 25 counts of damage to Duke Energy equipment and 25 counts of interfering with electric meters, and some other felonies.
Detectives are not done.
They believe other people may have been scammed in Rowan County, neighboring Iredell County, and other parts of the state.
If you or someone you know has been a victim, don’t hesitate to contact Duke Energy, Detective Simmons, or Detective Bare at (704)216-8700, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.