Scammers target commercial property owners, attorney general says

Scammers targeting commercial property owners are claiming the businesses need to immediately pay a several-hundred-dollar charge to their electric utility, Maryland's attorney general warned Thursday.

The scam is a variant of one aimed at residents. In this case, the callers pretend to be from Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., Pepco or other utilities and say the state is requiring a "GPS meter" be installed on all commercial properties, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said in a statement.

The scammers tell targets their power will be shut off unless they pay the charge — usually around $500 — by sending the money via a Green Dot MoneyPak debit card, which can be used to transfer funds to other debit cards, the attorney general said. The calls show up on caller ID as if they were from the utility, thanks to "spoofing" technology.

Gansler said many utilities don't accept Green Dot payments. He recommended customers ask callers for the name on the utility account, the address and other information that the utility would have — and scammers probably wouldn't.

BGE asked customers who get suspicious utility-related calls to report them to the company at 800-685-0123 as well as to the police.

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