SCE customers targeted by scammers

Callers threatening to shut off power

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Some Southern California Edison customers have been receiving calls telling them their electricity will be cut off if they don't make an immediate payment.  But the caller is not from the power company.  It's a scam.

Tony Bruggemans, general manager of Le Vallauris restaurant in Palm Springs, said  he was duped by a phone scam a week and a half ago.

Although he had paid the restaurant's February power bill, the caller insisted there was a mixup in the payment, and more than $1,900 was due and needed to be paid immediately with a prepaid cash card.  The caller said if he didn't comply, power would be cut off within an hour.

Bruggemans felt the call was legit since the caller knew exactly how much was due on the restaurant's power bill.

"They had the figures, they knew everything.  That's kind of scary, because they know everything about you and this is why it's so convincing, you walk right into it," said Bruggemans.

SCE spokesman David Song said while the scammers have contacted individual customers, they tend to target small businesses.

Song also said SCE never threatens to cut off power if it doesn't receive immediate payment and that  the power company primarily communicates with customers through the mail -- so contact by phone or email should be a red flag that something is wrong.

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