NEW YORK, NY -- Con Edison is warning customers about a scam in which a caller says the company will shut off power for an extended period unless the customer immediately pays a deposit for a smart meter.
The scam usually targets business customers and the scammers often request payment by bitcoin.
Con Edison does not require deposits for smart meters and does not accept payment by bitcoin.
“This is a new one,” said James Duggan, a section manager in Con Edison’s Corporate Security department. “It shows once again that scammers are always looking for new ways to take advantage of our customers. Information and awareness are the best tools our customers have to protect themselves.”
Twenty-seven customers have reported being targeted by the scam. Of those, 12 made payments and lost money.
Con Edison began installing smart meters in Staten Island and Westchester County last year and is working in Manhattan and Brooklyn this year. All the company’s electric and gas customers will have smart meters by 2022.
Con Edison notifies customers in advance that workers will be showing up to exchange meters. Customers can make appointments at a time that is most convenient for them.
The scam usually works like this: A person claiming to be from Con Edison calls a business that cannot afford to lose power – such as a restaurant just before dinner time or a medical office. The scammer says Con Edison personnel are about to come out to install a smart meter and will have to turn off power for two hours.
When the customer says the business had no advance notice, the scammer e-mails or faxes fake documentation that purports to show Con Edison had an appointment and that the customer owes a refundable deposit.
But, the scammer says, Con Edison will postpone the installation until a convenient time if the customer pays the deposit immediately. The scammer tells the customer bitcoin is the best way to pay and directs the customer to a location to make the transaction.
The owner of an auto repair shop in Brooklyn reported receiving an e-mail with what appeared to be a bill demanding a $750 deposit in bitcoin for a meter. The owner went to a bitcoin machine and made the payment. The scammer then sent the shop owner a phony receipt.
This is just the latest scam targeting Con Edison customers. Scammers sometimes call customers at home or at their business and say the customer is delinquent on bills. These scammers say the company will shut off power unless the customer immediately pays by pre-paid card.
Once the customer puts money on the pre-paid card and provides the scammer with the card number, the scammer steals the money. The company does not accept payment by pre-paid card, so any caller demanding payment by this method is a scammer.
Never arrange payment or divulge account or personal information, including debit or credit card information, unless you are certain you are speaking to Con Edison. If you are unsure whether the person is from Con Edison, call 1-800-75-CONED to check.
Learn more on scams and see Con Edison's approved options for bill payment.