A Port Chester woman has lost $200 to a scam artist who threatened that her service would be cut off unless she immediately sent him a payment using a pre-paid credit card.
Port Chester police said they confirmed the man who called the 30-year-old village residents was not connected with Con Ed, and warned residents to be on alert for this scam — one in a that have targed Port Chester residents.
The Port Chester woman affected by the said she recived a call on Monday from a person claiming to work for Consolidated Edison, telling her that she owed $199.98 and had to pay immediately or face the loss of her electric service. The caller, police said, seemed convincing because he had the woman's account number.
When the woman offered to pay the bill over the telephone using a credit card, police said the con man convinced the woman that she could only pay over the phone by using a pre-paid credit card. The woman went to a nearby store, purchased the card and then called the number she was given to make a payment.
On Tuesday, the woman called Con Ed to make sure the payment had been recorded for her account. However, the utility informed the woman that she had been the victim of a fraud.
Port Chester Police Lt. James Ladeairous said his department called the number that was originally given to the fraud victim, and the line was answered by a person who claimed to work at a walk-in utility bill payment center in Manhattan. Ladeairous said Con Ed was notified of the scam, with the utility telling police that the information would go to the company's fraud investigations staff.
Utility scams are not new. Here is advise from Con Ed:
Con Edison urges customers to never provide a Social Security number, credit card number or banking information to anyone requesting it unless you initiated the contact and know the identity of the person you are speaking with.
If you receive a call from someone you do not trust and who is urging you to make a payment to Con Edison, hang up and check the legitimacy of the call by dialing 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633).
Con Edison's website, www.conEd.com offers a variety of approved and convenient options for bill payment.
In addition, Con Edison warns customers not to fall for a scam in which a caller says the customer must make a payment by purchasing a Green Dot Money Pak to avoid having utility service turned off.
These callers are not from Con Edison and Con Edison does not authorize payments of electric or gas bills by pre-paid debit cards such as the Green Dot Money Pak. While many retail stores accept the Green Dot Money Pak for payment, Con Edison does not.
The company has received reports from hundreds of customers who were contacted by the scammers. The scammer tells the customer the company will turn off service unless the customer makes a bill payment by purchasing a Green Dot pre-paid card.
The scammers sometimes even tell the customer about a store near the customer's home that sells Green Dot cards. The scammer instructs the customer to pay cash to put money on the card and to then provide the number on the card to the person who called.
Once the customer provides the Green Dot card number, the scammer steals the money on the card by transferring the money to a pre-paid card and cashing that card at an automated-teller machine.
Also, feel free to ask or check for identification before allowing anyone into your home or business. If you feel the person at your door may be an imposter, you can call 1-800-75CONED (1-800-752-6633) to check.
The utility also suggests that if you have a concern that you may have been targeted for fraud that you call your local police.
Here's another recent scam involving utility bills:Con Edison is warning its customers about a scam in which someone seeks to steal their identity by telling them President Obama has set aside money to cover utility bills.
Here’s how it works: A scammer contacts a customer by phone, text message or other means and says President Obama is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills. The scammer asks the customer for their Social Security number and Con Edison account information.
The scammer then provides the customer with the number of an out-of-state bank account and the routing number and instructs the customer to use that information to make a bill payment to Con Edison.
But the bank account is phony and the customer receives a notification from Con Edison that the payment was not received. Though the customer has not lost money, the customer has given up valuable personal information that a scammer can use to steal from that customer.