Originally posted at 2:55 p.m. June 5, 2014. Edited with new details.
A Department of Water and Power official today warned of a recent spate of "imposters" pressuring customers into making immediate payments on "alleged overdue bills" to avoid services getting cut off.
The scams are conducted over the phone by several groups of individuals who are "very sophisticated, very convincing" and "literally will not take no for an answer," DWP security director Patrick Findley said during a news conference at LAPD headquarters.
The scammers, who demand payment within the hour, employ a "ruse of putting a supervisor on the phone," and will answer calls by identifying themselves as "DWP collections," Findley said.
"DWP would never call and ask for payment over the phone like that," he said.
The utility uses written letters to inform customers of any past due bills, he said.
Customers also are typically instructed by scammers to provide the pin number of a Green Dot Moneypak card, which are sold at convenience marts and drug stores such as 7-Eleven, Rite Aid and Walgreens.
Findley said DWP does not take Green Dot Moneypak cards as payment.
The groups have already targeted hundreds of restaurant, business and residential customers within the city, according to Findley.
"It is happening all over the city," Findley said. "In fact, it is happening outside of the city also to other utility customers."
DWP is working "closely" with the Los Angeles Police Department to track down the perpetrators of the scams, he said.
"It is not one set of individuals," Findley said. "We have learned it is a number of groups of individuals that are doing it."
--City News Service