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