British Columbia

2018 was a record year for BC Hydro scammers, utility says

A statement said customers provincewide were bilked out of more than $45,000 last year alone.

Statement says customers provincewide were bilked out of more than $45,000 last year alone

BC Hydro says criminals posing as its employees scammed real customers across the province out of $45,000 in 2018. The scammers contacted people by text, phone or email. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)

BC Hydro says fraudsters posing as employees of the Crown utility conned customers out of thousands of dollars last year, making it the most scam-ridden period since frauds began gaining momentum in 2014.

Hydro says in a statement that it's received nearly 6,000 reports of customers being contacted by swindlers in the past four years, and that 2,000 of those complaints came in 2018.

The utility estimates the number of complaints is far lower than the actual number of scams because it believes most attempted and successful frauds are not reported.

It says customers provincewide were bilked out of more than $45,000 in 2018 alone, with Vancouver, Nanaimo, Surrey, Vernon, Burnaby and Richmond the most targeted communities.

Victims were contacted by phone, email or text and told their electricity would be cut off if a payment was not received via prepaid cash or credit card, or through a bitcoin ATM.

Hydro is reminding customers that it does not accept payment in bitcoin or via prepaid cash or credit cards, and it sends notices by mail and automated telephone message if an account is in arrears.

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