Over the past week, the My Ballard team has received a number of reports about scammers who are posing as Seattle City Light employees and demanding money over the phone. The scammers have reportedly been targeting both businesses and individuals in the neighborhood.
My Ballard reader Sayda emailed in to report that she was the victim of a scam call on Tuesday while at work as a manager at Stericycle Communication Solutions.
Sayda reports that “JP” called in asking to speak to a manager in regards to an electricity bill that had allegedly not been paid. When JP insisted that the building’s electricity was going to be shut off, the call was transferred to Sayda.
Upon speaking to JP, Sayda was informed that she needed to pay $2000 in cash to ensure that the electricity remained on. JP then said that the bill could be paid using a pre-paid card and that Sayda should call him back with the pre-paid authorization number once the card was purchased. JP also told Sayda that she could pay a minimum of $500 in the same pre-paid card manner, as credit card payments “take too long to process.”
“That seemed suspicious to me, so while still on the line, I asked one of my staff to call the number that JP was calling from to see if it went to Seattle City Light and it did not,” says Sayda.
“I also asked him our account number and other necessary information that I needed to pay the bill and he could not confirm the details,” Sayda continues.
At that point Sayda informed JP that she was onto his scam and that she was going to call the police. JP then hung up on her.
Sayda reports that JP then called a second and a third time asking for a manager, in the hope of reaching someone different. After he was denied during the third phone call he stopped calling.
Although, in the end, Sayda realized that it was a scam initially she reports that it was hard to tell. “As a manager I did not want the electricity turned off so my first instinct was to pay it. Everyone in the neighborhood should be careful,” says Sayda.
Ballard business the Kangaroo and Kiwi Pub was also targeted by the same scammers last week. Similarly, a man, who was supposedly working for Seattle City Light, called and demanded $500 to be paid to prevent the electricity from being shut off.
“The man told me that we were overdue on our bill and that the amount needed to be paid immediately. He said that he would send representatives to collect the funds in cash,” says Kangaroo and Kiwi manager Aran.
Aran continued speaking to the person on the phone and asked the man to verify the Kangaroo and Kiwi account number. When he could not verify the number Aran told the man that he was aware it was a scam and hung up the phone.
“Locals need to be aware of this scam and be careful,” says Aran.
If you are contacted by anyone who claims to work for Seattle City Light, hang up the phone and call Seattle City Light at (206) 684-3000 to confirm if your bill is in fact overdue. Also let your friends and family know about this scam to ensure they are not misled.
Have you been targeted by scammers? Email your story to email@example.com and together we can help to keep the neighborhood informed.