Claremont businesses fall prey to phone scams

Phone scammers are at it again in Claremont, only now they’re expanding their target area to include local businesses and utilizing convincing props.

On March 13, Hotel Casa 425 fell victim to money scammers after receiving a call from an alleged Southern California Edison employee named “Jason” who notified the manager that the electric bill for the business was past due.

The caller said that if payment wasn’t received immediately, the power to the business would be shut off. The manager looked outside the business and saw a white truck with the words “California Electrical Shutoff” printed in red letters on the side. The manager then called “Jason” back at the number provided, 800-721-5322, and was instructed by a technician named “Alex” to purchase $2,000 in Reloadit cards from Stater Bros. The manager complied and provided the scammers with activated card numbers.

The following day, the hotel manager received another call from “Jason” stating the SCE bill was past due at which time, he became suspicious. The manager called SCE directly and learned his business was the victim of a scam.

On March 17, a second business located on the 900 block of W. Foothill Blvd. received a similar call but the caller identified himself as “Miguel.” Miguel told the victim the business account was past due and to purchase $1,000 in Reloadit cards for payment. The victim complied and provided the card numbers to Miguel. After reviewing his account the next day, the business owner realized he was a victim of a scam.

On March 18, a third business located on the 600 block of S. Indian Hill Blvd received a call from the infamous SCE employee “Jason” and his technician “Alex Anderson.” The victim lost $1,000 in the scam.

Southern California Edison will never demand immediate payment or money to be wired via Western Union or through a pre-paid card. Always check directly with a utility provider before committing to payment by phone or email. Use only the phone number listed on your bill to contact your provider.

When the victims called the number provided, they received a message stating they had called Southern California Edison; however this is not valid a phone number for SCE.

If someone contacts you with a similar situation, write down the caller’s number and immediately contact Claremont Police Department at (909) 399-5411.

—Angela Bailey

news@claremont-courier.com

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