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Costa Mesa Police Department
Thursday August 8th, 2013 :: 01:40 p.m. PDT


Telephone scams are common. One in particular to be aware of involves the request for payment of utility bills

Although no one is immune from the scam artist, based on local reporting, the most commonly targeted groups are our elderly and ethnic communities. These groups are targeted based on their perceived vulnerabilities. Awareness of and education about these scams is our best tool at fighting back.

A couple of the most common phone scams reported often involve:

• Winning a cash prize in a contest you did not enter. The catch, in order to claim the prize a portion of the winnings must be paid first to cover taxes, etc.
• A call from a person claiming to be a relative, most often a grandchild, who says they are in jail and needs bail money sent via money order.

Another phone scam recently brought to our attention targets Southern California Edison (SCE) customers. It involves callers demanding immediate payment for allegedly past due electricity bills.

Imposters have been calling SCE customers telling them they must make immediate payment on past due bills or have their electric service disconnected. The callers demand payment be made through a prepaid cash card and/or that the customer purchase a prepaid debit card. The scammer then asks for the debit card number and collects the value deposited on the card.

According to information received, nearly 500 instances of phone scams have been reported this year. Of those, about 75 residential and commercial customers were victimized by some form of bill scam, on average costing them $800 to $1,000.

As with any call received wherein payment is requested over the phone, be diligent in requesting more information about the caller including their name, the business they are representing and a return phone number where they can be reached. If a caller refuses to provide this information, you should terminate the call and report the incident.

In the case of Southern California Edison imposters, customers should contact SCE at 800-655-4555 to report and document the incident. They have provided the link which provides additional safety tips.

Please share this information with family and friends and remember, you are the eyes and ears of the Costa Mesa Police Department.

Costa Mesa Police Department
99 Fair Dr
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 714-754-5252

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