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Police Warn Customers Of LADWP Utility Scam

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Police Wednesday warned millions of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers about a scam involving their utility bills.

KNX 1070′s Pete Demetriou reports LADWP imposters are calling customers and telling them they have to pay their bills with pre-paid cash cards or face immediate termination of their service.

The scammers provide victims with a phony phone number staffed by their counterparts, who receive the card information to pay the bill, the LAPD said.

LADWP employees cannot accept verbal payment over the phone and do not contact customers for payment. The utility said customers can pay their bills online, by the mail and through its automated system.

City Councilman Mitch Englander said seniors are especially tempting targets for the scammers.

“They go down to the convenience store, they purchase this cash card, and they call these thugs back, they give ‘em the information and they wipe ‘em out,” Englander said, who added, “These aren’t just scammers. These are thugs. Thugs that are preying on seniors. Thugs that are preying on the most vulnerable in society.”

Authorities say anyone who receives a suspicious call should write down the number the scammer asks them to call for the cash card payment, as well as the number that shows up on their caller ID. Anyone who feels they may have already been victimized should call police with a copy of the cash card they purchased.

Customers with questions about being contacted by the LADWP should call (800)DIAL-DWP to confirm that the person reaching out to them is an actual employee of the utility, according to police.

Anyone who suspects they are victims of a crime can call Crime Stoppers at (800)222-TIPS.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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