The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Department is warning residents about a scam in which a suspect represented himself as an Arizona Public Service (APS) employee who was able to convince a business owner to pay an electric bill or risk power shut off.
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Department reports that on Friday, November 18, 2016, an unknown person called a Village of Oak Creek business claiming they were behind on their bill and the power was scheduled for shut off. The owner dismissed the call as a scam and did nothing.
On November 21, 2016, a man came into the business wearing a shirt and hat displaying “APS” lettering who stated he was there to shut off power. The owner requested information to prevent this from happening and the man/suspect provided a contact phone number before leaving. The suspect was described as white, heavy set, 5’ 6” to 5’ 8” in height, with a full beard. The owner called the provided number and was directed to buy ‘MoneyGrams’ at a local pharmacy to cover the $1200 bill. The owner went to the pharmacy while remaining on the phone with the “APS employee,” aka scammer, who directed her through the process of paying the “bill.” The payment was made at a kiosk via a MoneyGram money transfer.
A short time later, the owner realized she had been scammed and attempted to stop the payment. Unfortunately, it was too late as the money had been withdrawn and could not be recovered.
A Yavapai County Sheriff’s Department deputy contacted APS corporate security to advise them of this incident. Similar situations involving suspects presenting themselves as APS employees have occurred around the State over the past few years. The scam phone number is fairly consistent in recent reports –the partial number, 866-438-XXXX
If you have contact with a suspicious person representing themselves as an APS employee, call your local law enforcement office immediately. If they leave the premises, attempt to note a vehicle license plate.
In October, APS issued a warning about the scam. The company said that while it is impossible to know how many customers have been targeted or have fallen for the scam, APS security had received reports of more than 90 incidents across the state at the time.
APS provided the following guidance:
- APS never requires payment via a prepaid card.
- The only valid phone numbers to call the APS Customer Care Center are listed on customer bills and at aps.com.
- If there is ever a question about the validity of an email, website or person claiming to be an APS representative, call the APS Customer Care Center immediately at (602) 371-7171 to verify this information.
- Recognize the signs of a phishing email: mismatched fonts, missing hyperlinks, improper grammar and misspellings.
Never share credit card information with an unverified source. APS customers who pay by credit card at aps.com will be directed to the KUBRA EZ-Pay website, which asks them to enter a “captcha” validation code. A “captcha” typically uses a set of letters and numbers that the user is required to manually retype and submit. Any other credit card payment site is fraudulent and should not be used.