New phone scam targets Bellevue and beyond

by: David Solano Updated:

BELLEVUE, Wash. - A new phone scam is targeting the Eastside and beyond.

And this one involves not only the IRS, but also Puget Sound Energy.

KIRO 7 went to Bellevue and found out police may be stumped on this one.

 

 


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Claire Sumadiwirya, who owns Bellden Café in Bellevue, just received a phone call from someone claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service.

"They said, 'Call us back on this number and have the payment method ready,’” Sumadiwirya said. “And then [they kept on saying] I have to pay them, otherwise we will be in jail.”

She knew it was fake right away.

"No company would ask you for payment right off the bat,” Sumadiwirya said.

“They target people based on fear,” said Alycia McKinney, a Bellevue Police Department spokesperson. “And the fear that they use is that they're going to shut down their utilities, that they might arrest them or they might even deport them."

Jean Cho, the owner of Silhouette Hair Salon and Spa, told Bellevue police she was scammed by a man posing as an Puget Sound Energy employee.

Cho told KIRO 7 that man said she needed a new smart meter.

"I said, 'I'll pay with my credit card.' [He replied and said] 'No. It has to be cash.,’” Cho said.

When asked what Cho had to pay, she said “$400. So I just did that. The girls [who work at my salon] said it was a Puget Sound [Energy telephone number on the caller ID]. [He also told us] the work order number [and] his name. It just sounded so legit."

As it turns out, scammers are using technology that displays Puget Sound Energy's name and phone number on the caller ID.

Puget Sound Energy said there's been a huge spike in reports of people trying to get money out of customers. 

"We got about 150 calls this week,” said Janet Kim, a Puget Sound Energy spokesperson. “Those are [the] reports of calls, and that's compared to about 150 we got the entire month of June.”

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