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Wadsworth residents among those receiving surprise charges from Lorain utilities

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Several Wadsworth residents discovered charges for supposed payments to Lorain utilities — and they aren’t alone.

Lorain officials say they’ve been getting calls from other cities and even other states for similar line-item charges on their cards.

“I’ve had people from Michigan, Kentucky, Arizona, Akron and Wadsworth,” Paul Wilson, Lorain utilities director, said. “But we’ve had a lot of calls fielded from North Ridgeville — that seems to be the most common.”

Wilson said some of the callers have said they made a donation online or paid a hospital bill and, in place of those transactions, the Lorain utilities notation showed up on their statements.

Mayor Chase Ritenauer said the city is trying to figure out what is going on. The money isn’t being deposited into any of the city’s accounts.

“It looks as if our name is being used, but we are not receiving any money,” Ritenauer said.

The big question for some residents is what is going to happen to their utilities accounts.

Britteney Perkins said she paid her bill, received confirmation and then received a bill this month showing she was behind on her account.

She contacted North Ridgeville and the late fees were waived and her due date was extended until Dec. 21, but she has to come up with the extra money to get the account current.

“Now I have to come up with all of this money right before Christmas,” she said. “It’s just sad.”

Utilities officials in North Ridgeville could not be reached Monday.

North Ridgeville police Capt. Marti Garrow said police haven’t yet determined where the charges are originating.

“There isn’t a commonality in any of this,” he said. “It’s not one bank or city.”

The police posted a statement on social media alerting residents about the issue and noted that in some cases, the charges were reversed and the money restored to residents’ accounts. The police urged those affected to contact their credit card companies to have the matter addressed.

Natalie Karn, of North Ridgeville, said she, too, received a line item for Lorain. Her bill wasn’t even due when the charge appeared.

“I called my bank (Monday) to report it as fraudulent,” she said.

North Ridgeville resident Jon Orasko said he learned about the erroneous charge when he received word from his credit card company that it refunded his account.

“I wasn’t sure what the email pertained to so I checked and sure enough, there was a charge for $54.83 and a few days later, it was reimbursed,” he said.

Contact Cindy Breda at 329-7126 or cbreda@chroniclet.com.

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