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City: Scammers Conning Residents into Paying Bogus Utility Bills

The con artists demand residents pay via a pre-paid debit card.

The city of Beverly Hills is warning residents about a recent scam to con them into paying bogus utility bills with a green dot card. Patch file photo.
The city of Beverly Hills is warning residents about a recent scam to con them into paying bogus utility bills with a green dot card. Patch file photo.
From a city of Beverly Hills press release:

City of Beverly Hills utility customers were recently targeted by what is known nationwide as the “Green Dot Scam.”

If customers believe that they have been the target of a scam, they are should contact the Beverly Hills Police Department at (310) 550-4951. 

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has issued an alert on the scam, which typically unfolds in the following way:

  • A customer receives a telephone call from an individual claiming to be from a utility company. The caller says that the customer’s power, water, or gas will be turned off within a short period of time if they do not immediately make a payment. (The callers are able to manipulate the Caller ID on the customer’s phone so that it appears as though the call is actually coming from the utility company.)
  • The caller then tells the customer that payment is only accepted through the purchase of a “Green Dot” pre-paid debit card, typically available at Walgreens, CVS, or RiteAid.
  • The caller provides the customer with a phone number to call to make the payment once they have purchased the Green Dot card; or, the caller calls the customer back so they can make their payment.
  • Once the customer has provided the caller with the Green Dot payment information, their money is gone permanently. This differs from previous, similar scams that allowed for credit card or checking account payments which provided the customer with some ability to recoup their money. 

In the normal course of business, the city of Beverly Hills may contact customers about their utility service. However, there are a few things to remember: 

Customers have the right to tell the city employee calling that they would like to call the city of Beverly Hills back to verify the information. The contact number for the Beverly Hills utility division is (310) 285-2436.

The city will not demand a particular form of payment. All customers have the ability to pay the city using any form of payment accepted. 

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