The call was suspicious right away. A caller claiming to represent The United Illuminating Co. was telling a staff member at Hummel Bros. that the company’s electric bill was past due. A UI technician, the caller claimed, would arrive within the hour to shut off service — unless Hummel loaded $1,000 onto a pre-paid credit card and made an immediate payment.
It was more than 90 degrees out, and the New Haven food processing company had its coolers full of hot dogs, hams and other meats. A loss of power would have been a major problem. But Mary Ellen McMahon, the company’s co-owner, was not taking the bait.