Sacto 9-1-1
July 31, 2008
Scam artist targets business utility customers in Roseville

From Art Campos:

A small business in Roseville was victimized Wednesday by a scam artist posing as a city utility company employee over the telephone, police said.

The fraudulent caller convinced the company's owner to send an "overdue balance" on a purported bill for electricity, police said.

The owner read off credit card information over the phone to the caller, the department said.

Police spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther said the business was told that if the bill was not paid, the electricity would be shut off.

Gunther said the caller, a female with a "professional-sounding voice," identified herself as a Roseville Electric employee.

"Based on other calls into the city's utility billing division, it appears that the con artist has also called other local small businesses," Gunther said.

So far, only the one business has reported being defrauded, she said. An undisclosed amount of money was charged to the owner's credit card, purportedly by an out-of-state company, she said.

Gunther said no one from the city of Roseville will ever call a customer asking for personal information, including credit or debit card numbers or other bank account data.

She said Roseville's utility billing division has an automated calling system that contacts customers to alert them when accounts are at least 19 days overdue and within two days of having the utility shut off.

The automated message gives customers the option of selecting one number to pay over the phone, or another number to speak to a customer service representative, Gunther said.

Any customer with a question about a bill or who wishes to pay over the phone is urged to call the billing division at (916) 774-5300, she said.

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