Westminster police are warning business operators about a scam in which crooks pose as representatives of the electrical utility and demand payment of fictional overdue bills.
According to Detective Alan Aoki of the Westminster Police Department, the WPD has recently taken two reports involving grand theft from local Vietnamese-owned businesses on the east side of the city.
Here’s how the scheme works: an employee at a targeted business gets a phone call from a woman who falsely claims to be working for Southern California Edison. She says the business is past due on paying its electric bill, and if immediate payment isn’t made, the power will be turned off.
Then the caller tells the employee how much money is “owed” and is told to buy “Green Dot” credit cards from local CVS stores to pay the “past due” amount. Green Dots are pre-paid cards that can be purchased at convenience stores with cash and which cannot be traced as traditional credit cards.
The caller stays on the phone with the employee until he or she reads the credit card number to her.
Afterwards, the worker discovers that the business was not in arrears in its payment, and that the caller was not from SCE.
The total loss from the two incidents is over $5000.
“Incidents involving theft of money and property through scams are becoming increasingly common,” according to Aoki. Vigilance is recommended, and the confirming the identity of callers in such circumstances is prudent.
Anyone with knowledge of such an incident is asked to report them to their local police department. Anonymous tips can also be reported to Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIPS-OCCS or by visiting the website at www.occrimestoppers.org .