Crypto Extortion Alert: Electric Utility Phone Scam Threatens To Cut Users Power In Hawaii
Crypto Scammers Target Hawaii Utility Company Customers
Utility company customers in Hawaii are the new targets of a crypto scam. Scammers are relying upon the anonymity offered by crypto to get the job done. The process works like this: scammers contact customers of Hawaii’s utility companies, such as Hawaii Electric Light, Maui Electric and Hawaiian Electric claiming that there is an overdue bill. The scammers then threaten the customers with immediate disconnection if the customer does not pay the bill.
Unfortunately, the scam has been quite successful. Khon 2, a television station, reported that since the start of the scam, hundreds of fraudulent calls have been placed and three businesses responded to the scam by paying hundreds of US dollars at bitcoin ATM machines.
Shannon Tanganon, the director of Hawaiian Electric stated, “They weren’t even overdue, but the scammers sounded so convinced that these business owners were willing to pay. . . . They actually went to a bitcoin machine as directed by these scammers and fed the cash into the machines.”
Most of the scammer’s targets were concerned that they’d be left without power. The utility customers had received disconnection notices featuring power companies’ outdated letterheads and the emails also featured a QR code that needed to be scanned at a bitcoin ATM machines.
As a result of the scenario, utility companies warned their customers to be on the lookout for scams. As Jim Alberts, senior vice president of customer service stated,
“This is simply a new twist on an old scam but our same advice applies: just hang up. Whether it’s bitcoin, gift cards or money orders, our companies aren’t going to threaten you or have you running around to meet unorthodox payment demands.”
Though bitcoin has provided industries with many benefits, this story highlights the darker side of cryptocurrency. It is being used as a tool for fraud with more frequency and hopefully such activity can be curbed by awareness.