Phony Craigslist Ad Shuts Down Operation

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A storefront operation falsely claiming it was offering PPL customer service jobs in Scranton has been shut down as a result of an Action 16 investigation.

Direct Energy, a nationwide corporation offering to supply electricity to PPL customers, hired a subcontractor to recruit sales people out of a Scranton office. As a result of the Newswatch 16 report, that subcontractor working out of 703 East Market Street in Scranton no longer has a product to sell.

Wednesday morning people were seen in the Market Street office, but the door was locked.

Its problems stem from a ad last month falsely advertising for PPL Customer Service jobs.

PPL Spokesman Rich Beasley said PPL never put an ad on Craigslist.

"If somebody went into that office and said, 'I want to see PPL identification' they wouldn't have it because it’s not a PPL operation," said Beasley.

Earlier, when Newswatch 16 confronted the manager at the Market Street office, he would not say why his company claimed to be PPL.

"We have no comment," said the manager who refused to say what company he worked for. "The problem has been fixed, have a nice day."

Wednesday Newswatch 16 learned he works for JMS Direct, a subcontractor that set up shop on Market Street, hiring door-to-door salespeople not for PPL, but for Direct Energy.

Direct Energy is one of a handful of energy retailers offering to supply electricity to PPL customers in our region.

Roberta Cerra said a worker wearing a Direct Energy badge went to her home in Scranton Monday, promising to save her money on her utility bill.

"I never really knew it was that big until I saw the thing about craigslist, and them offering jobs and representing them falsely as PPL," said Cerra.

That doesn't sit will with Direct Energy. As a result of the investigation, the corporation called Newswatch 16 with a statement from Mike Beck, Direct Energy's Vice-President.

"As soon as we were alerted to the craigslist ad, we severed our relationship with this office (703 East Market). Direct Energy has a zero-tolerance policy for bad practices," Beck said.

Direct Energy is the largest company in North America in the business of offering to supply electricity to established utility customers.

As for the JMS Direct operation on Market Street, it is shut down because it doesn't have a product to sell.