Utility scam targets Calgary businesses
The Calgary Police Service Economic Crimes Unit is alerting the public to a utility scam targeting small businesses – mainly restaurants – in the Calgary area.
Since January, police have been notified of 130 attempts to solicit funds through this scam. Eleven victims have come forward reporting they have lost money.
This scam is conducted over the phone with the offenders posing as ENMAX representatives. Victims are told they have an overdue ENMAX bill and are told they must pay the bill in order to avoid having their utilities cut off immediately. Victims are instructed to purchase pre-paid debit or credit cards available from a variety of retailers and to relay the details of the gift card over the phone.
Offenders have also been leaving voicemail messages for victims. The voicemail urges victims to contact ENMAX by calling a 1-888 number. Adding complexity to this scam, the offenders have recorded ENMAX's opening message from its customer service phone line and if victims stay on the line, the call is routed to the offenders' phones.
Police encourage victims of these crimes to call the Calgary Police Service non-emergency line at 403-266-1234. Anyone who may have other information about these scams is asked to contact the non-emergency number, or Crime Stoppers anonymously using any of the following methods: TALK: 1-800-222-8477, TYPE: www.calgarycrimestoppers.org, TEXT: tttTIPS to 274637.
Citizens can protect themselves using the following practices:
- Do not feel pressure to respond to a request until they have a chance to verify the story.
- Never transfer money, or give out credit card or other financial information, until you can verify the person's identity and the story, and determine whether it is legitimate.
- Contact ENMAX directly to legitimize the communication before you take any action. Search online to get contact information from an official source.
- ENMAX advises that customers are never asked to pay for utility bills using gift cards or pre-paid credit cards.
- ENMAX customers are encouraged to log into their ENMAX account online at www.enmax.com/sign-in, or to call 310-2010 toll free in Alberta to check their account status.