SCAM ALERT: Fake ‘City Light’ disconnection-threat calls, again

May 24, 2014 at 8:01 pm | In Crime, Utilities, West Seattle news | 6 Comments

Don’t be fooled if you get a call from someone claiming to be from Seattle City Light and that you need to pay money NOW to avoid power-service disconnection. Last November, we wrote about this scam hitting local businesses. And tonight, West Seattle’s Feedback Lounge (WSB sponsor) says somebody just tried it on them today – they weren’t fooled.

A guy calling himself James from Seattle City Light called the Feedback and got our manager. “James” said we were due to be disconnected for non-payment. He said there was a technician in the area and would arrive within about 30 minutes so we needed to act quickly. He wanted her to go to Rite Aid and get a Money Pack for $260 then call back (to a different number than he was calling on) to process the payment. Fortunately (the manager) was sharp enough to call me and we determined it was a scam. Here were the clues:

*We had just paid our bill and had reference numbers to prove it. James said the payments didn’t show on our account. When I asked what account number he was looking at, he wouldn’t tell me.

*James called from a number that didn’t have a city-type prefix (usually 684).

*The number at Feedback is not the contact number we have on file at City Light. When (the manager) tried the number James gave her to make the payment, James answered. When he recognized her voice he hung up.

*The amount ($260) bore no relation to any of our bills. Anyone who has dealt with disconnection knows that balances have to be paid in full to stop the disconnect.

*Anyone from City Light that calls about a disconnection has the ability to take a payment. There is no need to call another number.

*Most telling, there is no way City Light is paying anyone on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to go out and do power disconnects.

*I called police and reported this and they told me it is a currently running scam around town.

Also of note – when this scam went around exactly a year ago, City Light explained on its website that it does NOT cut off power for one late payment – you would get at least two written notifications. This kind of scam is a crime, so if someone tries it on you, call police, as the Feedback crew did.

6 Comments

  1. Public utilities don’t just shut you off. They mail you a shut off notice and give you 10 days to pay at least 1/2 which you can do at the service center. The service center is located in the lobby at the South West pool. Just an FYI

    Comment by sophista-tiki — 7:17 am May 25, 2014 #

  2. I’m curious to know what kind of follow up the police do for this type of crime? Do they take the phone number and attempt to trace it back to whoever the number “James” called from belongs to in an attempt apprehend the person?

    Comment by Eric — 7:34 am May 25, 2014 #

  3. Good catch! It never ceases to amaze me how stupid this idiot scammers think we are. Then again, I guess so people must have bought the story in the past for them to keep trying…….

    Comment by David — 8:45 am May 25, 2014 #

  4. one of the local tv news consumer reporters did a story about this scam a few weeks ago; was it Connie Thompson?

    Comment by Diane — 1:06 pm May 25, 2014 #

  5. I’ve always wanted a call like this, just so I can mess with them.

    Comment by fj — 6:03 pm May 25, 2014 #

  6. That would be fun, fj!

    .

    I didn’t know what “Moneypak” was, so Googled it and it appears to be a prepaid Mastercard.
    .

    So….that gave me an idea on how to mess with them; call back the other number after awhile, and when they ask for the card number, read out the first four, so it sounds legit, then continue with random numbers way beyond the 12 that normally comprise a card number.

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 10:20 pm May 25, 2014 #

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