Authorities warned residents on Friday that people are posing as Glendale and Burbank utility employees who threaten to shut off services for those who refuse to pay their bills using money cards.
At least three Glendale Water & Power customers shelled out $1,000 to $2,000 each in the last week to the impostors, who posed as customer service representatives when they called them about making a utility payment, according to Atineh Haroutunian, the utility's public information officer.
Fraudsters told customers that their utility service would be immediately shut off if they didn't buy a Green Pack Money Card from Rite Aid or 7-Eleven stores and use the card to pay their bills.
Next, customers were asked to call a local phone number at a specific time to provide information from the money card to the imposters. Once the bogus service reps had the numbers from the money card, they immediately withdrew its funds.
The fraudsters, who officials said are overseas and untraceable, reportedly used spoofing software to display a Glendale Water & Power or other 818 area-code phone number on the customer's caller-identification device.
A similar tactic was used against a Burbank business on Wednesday.
The manager of Philly's Best, located at 1419 W. Olive Ave., got a call at 4:10 p.m. from someone overseas who threatened to shut off the power at 5 p.m. if the manager didn't pay an outstanding power bill, said Burbank Police Sgt. Darin Ryburn.
The caller instructed the manager to load $988 on a prepaid card and call in the card's numbers, which the manager did shortly thereafter, Ryburn said.
Police warned businesses and residents about these scams, which have been reported numerous times in recent months.
Utility customers have four methods to pay their bills, officials said, including by mail, in person at utility offices, through payment boxes located throughout Glendale and Burbank, and online at burbankwaterandpower.com and glendalewaterandpower.com.
Anyone with questions about how to make a utility payment can call Burbank Water and Power at (818) 238-3700 and Glendale Water & Power at (818) 548 3300.
Businesses that may have received a call from an impersonator are encouraged to call Burbank police at (818) 238-3210 and Glendale police at (818) 548-4911.