The North Aurora Police Department is warning residents and businesses to be on the alert for a phone scam involving calls claiming to be from the electric utility Commonwealth Edison.
Two North Aurora businesses were scammed last week by persons who claimed to represent ComEd. The scammers claimed the businesses owed money and that their power would be turned off if the business did not pay via pre-paid cards within one hour. The businesses were fooled in part by the fact that the scammers “spoofed” the caller ID display to make it appear that they were in fact calling from ComEd.
In actuality, ComEd does not demand payment via pre-paid cards and gives customers much more notice before power is turned off. For more information about this scam, go to https://www.comed.com/
This scam is similar to previous scams where callers would claim to be the IRS or other government agency demanding payment for overdue or back taxes via pre-paid cards or wire transfer or the victim would be arrested.
If you receive any similar call, please contact North Aurora Police Department at 630-897-8705 before you consider payment.
SOURCE: North Aurora Police Department
Aurora Police Investigate 2 More ‘ComEd’ Scams
UPDATE THURSDAY, APRIL 14
Aurora police are investigating at least two instances of thefts by people posing as ComEd employees telling unsuspecting business owners their power will be shut off unless they immediately pay supposed past due accounts with pre-paid cards or online money orders. Police add they have received several calls for similar ruses but people have not fallen for the scam.
The thefts follow the same basic premise where victims are contacted by phone, are told they owe thousands of dollars to the utility, and that their power will be shut off unless payment is received immediately. The victims are then instructed to pay the “balance” with the pre-paid cards or electronic money orders. It is not the first time Aurora Police have seen the scam and investigated several incidents in 2014.
The scams seem to be targeting smaller businesses.
On April 8, a pet store at the Westfield Mall on the Far East Side was victimized after an employee answered a call from phone number 855-209-7714. A man purporting to be with ComEd told the employee the business was behind on their electric payments and their power would be shut off within 30 minutes unless payment was made using pre-paid money cards. He instructed the employee to purchase the cards and then call him back and furnish the card numbers.
She did as she was instructed and the next day, received another call from someone who sounded like the same man who was calling from the same “855” telephone number. The man said a mistake had been made the previous day and that she would be refunded the money. However, he now said she owed even more than what she paid the day previously, to bring the bill current. She then contacted a superior who Googled the phone number and saw it was associated with similar frauds from across the country.
Also on April 8, the owner of a Far East Side hair salon received an identical call from an undisclosed telephone number and was instructed to make her payment with an electronic money order. Even though she felt something may have been wrong, she did not want her business to be interrupted so she did as she was told. She then called ComEd directly and found she had been scammed.
The total loss to the two businesses was almost $2000.
Among those who have not been scammed, on April 11, a dental facility in the 300 block of North Farnsworth on the Near East Side, was contacted by a man calling from the 855-209-7714 number and the same ruse attempted. The employee who took the call immediately became suspicious, contacted ComEd, and was told it was a fraud.
Aurora Police say these types of frauds are extremely difficult to investigate and are many times, being conducted from outside the U.S. They also remind the community that ComEd (and other utilities) do not require immediate payment of accounts in these fashions. Anyone receiving similar calls should hang up and contact the utility(s) directly. ComEd’s phone number is 1-800-334-7661. Those who have been scammed can contact the Illinois Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-386-5438 or online at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov.
Don’t Get Scammed
ComEd has seen an increase in reports of individuals calling ComEd customers and falsely claiming their electric service will be disconnected unless payment is made. These impersonators instruct customers to buy a prepaid credit card and call back to a different phone number with the personal identification number (PIN) or other personal information. They also use a tactic called “spoofing” to manipulate the Caller ID displayed phone number so that it appears as a ComEd number.
ComEd representatives will never call you to ask you for cash or request that you purchase a prepaid credit card to make a payment on your bill. If you have concerns about the status of your account, call ComEd’s Customer Service line at 1-800-334-7661 (1-800-EDISON1).
If you believe you have been the target of a phone scam, ComEd urges you to contact the Illinois Attorney General’s office at 1-800-386-5438 (TTY 1-800-964-3013), or visit the Illinois Attorney General’s website and click on the “Protecting Consumers” link.
SOURCE: Commonwealth Edison