More than a dozen businesses in Orange County were tricked by scammers posing as Southern California Edison employees since January. According to news sources, the imposters threatened to shut off the business' electricity if the owner didn't pay their outstanding bills immediately. N.W., a Santa Ana restaurant owner, panicked when she received the call. "The lunch crowd is coming, what can I do?" she told news sources, "People will be stuck with no food, no lights, so first thing in my mind was 'I got to stop this process.'" The caller told her that the restaurant's power would be shut off in 30 minutes if she didn't pay the bill immediately. Then, the caller instructed N.W. to purchase a Green Dot prepaid card with cash and provide him with the card information over the phone. The transaction was untraceable.
N.W. realized her mistake almost instantly. "It was a horrible feeling, believe me, like, 'Oh my gosh why?'" she said. Unfortunately, she'd already paid the scammer $2,000. According to law enforcement, the imposters will be hard to catch. "It makes it difficult for the detectives to follow the case because they could be doing this from anywhere," the Santa Ana police Cpl. According to ABC News, more than a dozen other Orange County businesses lost between $1,200 and $1,500 to the scam. However, business owners can avoid future problems; So Cal Edison reassures customers that they will not be contacted over the phone to pay bills in this way. "We will not do that and we will not do that by a phone call," said a spokesperson for SCE, "we are never going to turn around and tell you you've got 30 minutes to do that." SCE should be aware of the following information:
- Southern California Edison employees will not ask for payments in person.
- Never give your ATM card information, calling card information, PIN number, or credit card information to someone over the phone.
- Be wary of anyone who comes to your home or business without an appointment to check your appliances.
- Be wary of anyone claiming that there is an electrical problem in your residence that they need to investigate.
- Victims of this scam should contact Southern California Edison immediately.
What Does the Law Say About Telemarketing Fraud?
Telemarketing fraud occurs when a scammer calls someone, makes an untrue declaration over the phone and convinces their victim to give them money. Like telemarketing fraud, wire fraud can involve over-the-phone scams or scams that use other forms of electronic communication. In the United States, most fraud crimes are considered felonies and are punishable by repayment, imprisonment, and other penalties. If you've been accused of fraud or another serious offense in the Orange County area, contact the Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman today.