REDLANDS – A scam that targets small to medium size businesses has likely netted scammers over $200,000 in untraceable pre-paid debit cards.
The scam has stretched to various Southern California outlets, most businesses being duped into believing that a Southern California Edison representative will cut off electrical services unless a quick payment is made to purchase a new meter.
The scam, according to reports, usually starts with telephone calls from an 800 number and concluding with a payment from untraceable pre-paid debit cards.
The method of operation is that a self-described customer-service representative, usually calling restaurants right before a lunchtime rush, advises the business that electrical services will be cut if money was not quickly produced to pay for meter replacements. Response from the owners were usually quick, in order to stem off the likelihood of losing too much business.
Business owners should be wary of anyone requesting payment with a pre-paid debit card. The advice is to request a callback number, then call the business directly. If someone comes into the business, request identification. A pre-paid debit card, which are cash-only cards that are available at grocery stores and pharmacies, are procured to make payments to the scammers. Officials said the payments are untraceable.
Once the money has been put on the card, said officials, the alleged power company representative – in this case, Southern California Edison – requests a PIN number which leads to the transfer of funds onto his own debit card.
Southern California Edison officials know of at least 300 victims over the past year, most appearing to be businesses. An Edison official says they would never threaten customers with service disconnections.
LADailyNews: Southern California Edison alerts customers to rash of phone scams