BOERUM HILL — Scammers posing as Con Edison officials are tricking Brooklyn business owners with an elaborate fraud to steal their money, police said.
The impostors are calling locals to say they owe money to Con Ed and then threatening to turn of their electricity or gas if the payment isn’t received immediately, police said.
The fraudsters ask victims to put their money in a reloadable “MoneyPak” debit card — an untraceable card that can be purchased at local drugstores, police said. Victims are then told to provide a unique serial number on the card through which scammers can withdraw the cash.
“As soon as you hear the word 'pack,' that should be a light bulb,” said Crime Prevention Officer John Kenny at the 84th Precinct’s community council meeting Tuesday night. “They’re not going to send someone down in 35 minutes to turn off your power."
Some thieves are also using cellphone apps that can program Con Edison’s phone number to appear in the customer’s caller ID, police said.
“It’s new wrinkles on an old scam,” Kenny said.
The GreenDot MoneyPak scam has spread across the country and affected thousands of victims in the city and in at least 10 other states, sources told DNAinfo New York.
The 84th Precinct covers Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Vinegar Hill and the Farragut Residences.
A similar crime pattern has also emerged in South Brooklyn, according to police at the 76th Precinct, which covers Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook and parts of Gowanus.
Earlier this month, owners of Ruben Liquors, located at 241 Court St., were contacted by a Con Ed fraudster speaking Spanish, police said.
The shop’s owners did not respond to requests for comment, but police said management did not give any money to the scammers.
Police cautioned locals to confirm suspicious requests with Con Edison officials before making payments.
Con Edison has warned customers of the scam since 2012. The company does not accept payments through pre-paid debit cards like the GreenDot MoneyPak, said spokesman Allan Drury.