Watch CBS News

Scammers Tell Businesses: Pay Up -- Or Lose Power

(CBS) -- It's an elaborate scam targeting ComEd customers, and it could cost you big.

Already, several businesses have been hit.

CBS 2's Chris Martinez reports.

At the start, the call sounded legit. Then came the threat: Pay or your power will be shut off.

That's when Max Mankiewicz at Udo's Car Wash began to question the woman on the other end. She claimed a glitch caused a problem with his bill, and keeping the power on would cost him big: $1,788.

Unconvinced, Mankiewicz never paid the money.

But Dominique Schewevach did.

"About 1,200 dollars," she says.

The phone call to her Gold Coast bakery delivered a similar ultimatum.

"The disconnection team was on their way, they will be there in 45 minutes," Schewevach says.

What made the call seem so legit to here were details only she and ComEd should know, such as when she paid her last bill and the amount for that bill. The Caller ID said ComEd was calling.

It was enough to convince her to pay.

"Either someone is leaking information from the company, or someone has managed to enter the system," she says.

How do you know if the call is legit?

ComEd says utility representatives will never ask a customer to immediately pay a bill over the phone.

Also, customers at risk of losing service will first get a warning letter, followed by an automated call.

The Illinois Attorney General's Office says they are now tracking this scam.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.