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Hunt continues for phone scammers

No one in Burbank falls for the deception. Four in Glendale are deceived.

March 15, 2011|By Veronica Rocha,

Investigators are still trying to figure out who posed last week as city representatives to ask utility customers for credit card information to pay for phony past-due balances, officials said Tuesday.

As of Monday, Glendale city officials still were receiving calls from customers who received the bogus calls about utility accounts, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said. So far, 27 customers have notified police and Glendale Water & Power that they received the calls.

Similar calls were made to Burbank Water and Power customers. Officials said no personal account information appeared to have been given.


Three to four Burbank customers, mainly nail- and beauty-salon businesses, were targeted, officials said.

“Nobody fell for it,” Burbank Police Sgt. Robert Quesada said.

In Glendale, eight customers provided the callers with their credit card information, Lorenz said. But since victims immediately discovered the scam, he said any monetary losses likely were prevented.

Burbank and Glendale officials last week issued public warnings about the phone scam, in which customers were asked to give their credit card information to prevent their utilities from being shut off.

The callers identified themselves to Glendale customers as Linda James and Michelle Williams. Calls were made from (818) 548-3301, a phone number that was registered to the city but that falsely showed up as the caller ID, officials said. They speculated that the scammers used an unidentified Internet computer program to falsely identify the phone number.

Burbank customers got calls from (818) 238-3701, also city number that officials rarely used, said Jeanette Meyer, a Burbank Water & Power spokeswoman.

Both cities have discontinued those numbers.

Glendale police detectives have been contacting various software companies to determine the callers’ identities, Lorenz said.

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