Local business loses $2,500 to SoCal Edison phone scam

ACTON – Residential and commercial customers continue to fall victim to the SoCal Edison phone scam, where callers say electricity will be shut down unless past due bills are paid immediately. Just last week, an Acton business owner was taken for $2,500, according to a press release from the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station. Read it below:

On February 14, 2014, at 2:04 PM, a retail business located at 33400 Block of Crown Valley Rd, Acton, was scammed for $2,500 by callers reporting to be from Southern California Edison.

The victim said he received a call at his business and noticed the caller identification feature indicated the call was from Southern California Edison. The caller advised that the business owed Southern California Edison a $2,500 surcharge for recent equipment upgrades. The caller said the business’s electricity would be shut off if the money was not paid immediately.

The business owner offered to provide his credit card to make the payment. The caller declined this and told the victim he would need to go to a local retail store and purchase “Green Dot” prepaid money cards totaling the amount of $2,500. He was then told to call the given number and provide the card code numbers. When the victim later called Southern California Edison to inquire regarding the matter, he was advised that he had been scammed.

A representative from Southern California Edison advised that they are aware of the scam and have additional information on their website. They advised that they do not contact customers for payment over the phone. Notices are sent via mail.

Palmdale Station has received reports of several versions of this scam. In some cases, the caller has claimed to be from the Internal Revenue Service, demanding payment of back taxes. Other callers have claimed to be from a utility which claims the victim’s recent payments were accidentally credited to a refund account and that a refund check was being sent to the victim, but immediate payment via the preloaded cards was necessary to prevent an interruption of service.

Citizens must understand that criminals can easily obtain programs which will disguise their caller identification numbers to read as any entity and any number they choose, enabling them to appear as a legitimate, local business although they may be calling from another country.

Do not automatically trust your caller identification feature. In these instances, obtain the caller’s information, hang up and use 411 to identify the business’s legitimate number and then call the business to confirm the legitimacy of the call. Be wary of any phone request to pay with “green dot” or similar prepaid cards.

These cases can be extremely difficult to investigate and prosecute as the callers are frequently outside the country.

Citizens can also familiarize themselves with various current scams by using the internet to search for scams. A search for “SCE Scams” and “IRS scams” will give an idea of the prevalence of these crimes.

Previous related story: Beware of telephone scams targeting SoCal Edison customers

  3 comments for “Local business loses $2,500 to SoCal Edison phone scam

  1. ROOT
    March 18, 2014 at 11:03 am

    It’s an inside job or the data was requisite from Southern California Edison or a third party vendor doing business with them. I use to work for SCE and you would be disappointed at easy it is to get customer data and sometimes it’s even left around accidentally. These scams predominantly cluster around certain communities and then move on to a new vicinity. It’s statistically impossible for a scammer to make random calls to businesses in a city to have them all be troubled accounts or the account owners not knowing how to check their account status. SCE tracks business and residential clients looking for accounts that are going to be or have a delinquent history. There are also third party vendors that manage programs for SCE, we give them the data including customer name, number, address, usage level, payment style and payment due date. For a customer that pays via paperless, they would immediately know the call is fraudulent but for a customer who has been struggling financially or may be behind payments, a call like this from the scammers would not be unusual. Again, as a former SCE employee I am simply providing information on how these scammers are able to obtain personal information.

  2. Debbie
    February 22, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    There are two other scams, where the caller claims he is from the state attorney general’s office, and he has an urgent matter, saying the person will be sued, if they don’t provide personal information. We verified from the State of CA, that it is indeed a scam. The other is from someone claiming to work for GE Money Bank,saying that they will give you money if you provide them with your personal information. These are Indian or Middle Eastern people, who can barely speak English.

    • Monique
      February 25, 2014 at 12:36 am

      I’ve gotten that call too, from the state attorney general’s office, looking for my sister. They call often. I let them know she no longer lives with me. They wanted her info but I refused. Told them to quit calling, I don’t appreciate the constant harassment. And that’s against the law. Haven’t heard from them since =)

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