Oak Lawn Police are investigating two frauds where business owners both received phone calls stating that their electricity was about to be shut off if they didn’t purchase “Green Dot” money cards to pay off the utility company.
The first incident occurred on April 16, when a local business owner received a phone call from an unidentified man who advised he worked with Commonwealth Edison collections, police said.
The caller told the business owner that his account was not up to date and the owned $376.21 for the month of March. A crew was on their way to shut off service unless the business owner complied by going to a Walgreens or CVS to purchase a “Green Dot money card,” according to a police news advisory.
Police said the caller remained on the phone as the business owner drove to Walgreens to purchase a Green Dot money card in the amount owed. The business owner was instructed to provide the caller with the serial numbers on the back of the money card.
When the owner returned to the the business, he notified ComEd and learned that he had been the victim of a scam, police said.
Police said the caller’s phone number is 773-455-5196. The caller spoke with a thick accent, origin unknown, and research of the number yielded negative results.
On the same day, another local business was contacted by the caller using the same phone number. The caller advised that the ComEd bill was late and the business owner need to purchase a Green Dot money card in the amount of $998.32. The owner was told to provide the serial numbers on the back of the card to him to avoid shutdown in service.
Police said both calls were placed between 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on April 16.
Business owners and residents are cautioned to beware of any scams of involving Green Dot money cards. Neither ComEd nor any other utility will demand payment from a third party. Police believe the scam to be an overseas operation, Oak Lawn Police Detective Tom Cronin said.
“Make all employees aware of this scam and notify police and file a report if you receive contact from anyone making these demands,” Cronin said. “A simple call to the proper authority can prevent you from becoming a victim.”