News Story

 

Countywide - Utility Customers Being Targeted by Phone Scam
5/8/2013 3:00:00 PM

 

Nature of Incident:

Utility Customers Being Targeted by Phone Scam

Location:

Countywide

Date & Time:

Ongoing

Unit(s) Responsible:

Sheriff's Special Investigations Bureau / Southern California Edison

Narrative:

The Sheriff's Office is investigating several cases involving Southern California Edison customers who have been the targets of a telephone bill payment scam. The suspects have been calling SCE customers telling them they must make immediate payment on past due bills or have their electric service disconnected. The callers are also demanding that payment be made through a prepaid cash card, such as a PayPal or Green Dot card.

SCE officials have confirmed there have been similar reports from customers throughout Southern California, and they are working closely with law enforcement agencies to identify the suspects.

The primary targets have been minority-owned small businesses. 

'We ask our customers to be alert to these calls that demand immediate payment and threaten service disconnection,' said Henry Martinez, SCE vice president of Safety, Security & Compliance. 'Customers suspecting a fraudulent call should ask for the caller's name, department and business phone number. If the caller refuses to provide this information, customers should terminate the call and report the incident immediately to local police or SCE at 800-655-4555.'

SCE also reminds customers to ask for identification when a stranger comes to the door or calls claiming to be a utility worker. SCE utility workers will provide verification, including their department and phone number, when asked.

In most cases, home visits by SCE are scheduled by the customer and SCE will confirm the appointment in writing. If there are any concerns, SCE and law enforcement officials suggest having the utility worker wait outside until their identity can be verified.

SCE customers should also follow these guidelines:

An SCE employee will never ask for money in person.

Never reveal your credit card, ATM or calling card numbers (or PIN numbers) to anyone.

If someone calls and requests you leave your residence at a specific time for a utility-related cause, call the police. This could be a burglary set up by the caller.

 

Be suspicious of anyone who arrives at your house without an appointment asking to check an appliance, wiring, or suggesting that there may be some other electrical problem inside your residence.

 

For more ways customers can stay safe, please see www.sce.com/safety and read the safety tips section.

 

Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime.  The caller may remain anonymous.  The call is not recorded.  Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

 

Prepared by:

Sgt. Eric Buschow

 

Media Release Date:

May 7, 2013

 

Follow-Up Contact:

Sgt. Eric Buschow (805)947-8129

 

Approved by:

Captain Don Aguilar

 

 

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