Authorities warn public of utility scam

San Gabriel Valley police agencies and utility providers are cautioning the public about an ongoing scam in which con artists are posing as electric or phone utility employees and demanding bogus payments.
Police in cities including West Covina and Monrovia warned the public of the scam over the past week, along with officials at Southern California Edison.
The nationwide scam targets utility customers, and in this case, primarily business owners, via telephone or email, SCI spokesman David Song said in a written statement. “In both scenarios, the scammers often request personal information and threaten to cut off electrical service if they do not receive immediate payment.”’
Edison customers have reported receiving similar letters and phone calls. In some cases, the customers are told their service will be disconnected immediately if they do not submit a payment.
A similar scam was rampant last year, targeting more than 2,000 SCE customers, Song said. “Unfortunately, more than 300 customers have fallen victim to the scam, many of them mom and pop business owners and entrepreneurs whose first language is not English,” Song said.
“The average loss for SCE business customers last year was between $800 and $1,000,” Song added. Residential customers who fell victim to the scam lost between $300 and $500 on average, and total losses to SCE customers in the scam are estimated at $225,000.
The scammers demand payments via prepaid credit cards or debit cards, officials said.
“SCE never uses high-pressure tactics to collect or demand money for past due bills,” according to SCE Manager of Consumer Affairs Marlyn Denter. “We are not in the business of threatening our customers with immediate termination of service.”
In Monrovia, police have noted the scam, with callers claiming to represent both SCE and Verizon.
“The caller tells the business their services are going shut off within 45 minutes to an hour, and a crew has already been dispatched to cut of the services unless a same-day payment is made immediately,” Monrovia police officials said in a written statement.
Some of the calls were received during weekends.
“The suspects sound seemingly legitimate and are targeting businesses, as businesses cannot afford to be without phone or power over the weekend,” the Monrovia police statement said. “It is not normal SCE or Verizon protocol to shut off service on the weekends.”
West Covina police also joined in the warning residents of the ongoing scam involving fake SCE representatives.
Those believing they have received a suspicious phone call are advised to end the call and report it to local police, as well as SCE at 800-655-4545. Suspicious emails can be reported to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force at as well as to SCE. Officials advised customers not to click on any links or attachments, send no reply and delete the email.
Information regarding the scam is available in multiple languages on SCE’s website at

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