Laguna Beach police are investigating an alleged scam involving a male caller who claimed to be from Southern California Edison and tried to extort money from a local business, according to police.
Police said the owner of Coast Highway Laundromat & Dry Cleaners was told he needed to pay $898 via a prepaid card to cover an outstanding bill. The owner was not behind on any electric bills, Laguna Beach Police Sgt. Louise Callus wrote in an email. Police have not made any arrests.
Impostors have been calling Edison customers, both residential and commercial, claiming they must make immediate payment for alleged past due bills or the electricity will be turned off, according to an Edison news release. The callers also require that the payment be made through a prepaid cash card, Edison said.
"We ask our customers to be alert to these calls that demand immediate payment and threaten service disconnection," Henry Martinez, Edison vice president of safety, security and compliance, said in the release. "Customers suspecting a fraudulent call should ask for the caller's name, department and business phone number. If the caller refuses to provide this information, customers should terminate the call and report the incident immediately to local police or SCE at (800) 655-4555."
Police are looking into a similar case involving another dry cleaning store, Callus said.
Edison officials said customers should ask for identification when someone comes to the door or calls claiming to be a utility worker, the release said. Edison workers will provide verification, including department and a phone number, when asked.
A company employee will never ask for money in person, Edison officials added. If someone calls and requests a resident leave his or her home at a specific time for a utility-related cause, call police, according to the release.