Police: Scammers posing as Seattle City Light bill collectors

SEATTLE -- Investigators are warning that an old scam where thieves pose as Seattle City Light bill collectors has resurfaced around the area again this month.

The scammers call business around Seattle, threatening to cut their power if they don't pay their overdue bill, which in reality isn't really overdue. The scammers then demand the customers make payment immediately or else they'll be plunged into darkness.

But in a new twist, the thieves demand their victims to go to local stores, purchase pre-paid debit cards -- which are difficult to track -- and provide the pre-paid card numbers over the phone.

The scam last surfaced in April and is back again, and appears to be targeting small Asian businesses and restaurants around Seattle.

Fortune Garden Restaurant was one who received the call last week.

"About 45 minutes they said they would disconnect our power," said Wendy Huang.

So far, no one has fallen for the scam, but fraud investigators received reports of five new attempts just this week alone, and 15 total since the end of May.

City Light wants to alert its customers that these kind of urgent demands for payment and threats to cut off the power at once are not how they do business.

"We always provide written notices, at least two written notices," said spokesperson John Gustafson. "The prepaid debit card or the credit card information is something we just don't ask for over the phone."

Seattle police say if you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a City Light bill collector, or if believe you've already been targeted in this scam, to give their detectives a call at (206) 625-5011. You can also contact Seattle City Light customer service representatives at (206) 684-3000 if you have questions about your account.