Scam artists target El Segundo. Currently different sets of scams are going after both residents and businesses. All demand payments that can’t be traced. El Segundo Police Department is aware of the situation.
The first one will reach out to a business and tell them they are from the Department of Water and Power (DWP) or from Southern California Edison. The caller will say that they bill hasn’t been paid and unless a payment is made, the water or power will be shut off in the next hour. The problem is that this is done when it is near impossible to check with the billing department as it is usually after hours on a Friday for example.
The business owner will be instructed to go to a grocery store such as Vons and make a payment via a pre-paid debit card. They will offer that the business owner can make a partial payment as a show of good faith. They usually say the company owes over $1,000 so just $500 will keep the lights on for the weekend. They say the rest can be sorted out on Monday.
To an unsuspecting restaurant or bar owner, having the power shut down on a Friday night can kill a weekend. Many have sent off the $500 only to find out it is a total fraud. This one was very active a couple of years back, now it seems to have returned.
The two other are directed at individuals and come via online interaction. The person will be contacted with one of two scenarios. One is that the criminal says he knows what the person has been up to. If the individual doesn’t forward payment then his or her “secrets” will be exposed to their spouse and friends.
Finally the last one going around is that a person will be contacted and told that they have been been recorded via their computer’s camera looking at inappropriate things online. Unless a payment is made they will be exposed to friends and family as well.
It is no surprise that the last two demand payment via bitcoin. Amounts demanded range anywhere from $3,500 to over $9,000.
In the case of the businesses, the callers will say they are from the Disconnection Department. This department doesn’t exist. They also don’t make these calls on weekends or holidays.
Please be aware that all three are scams and should be ignored. It is best not to engage these people in any way.