BC Hydro Scam Cheats Tsawwassen Pub Owner Out of Thousands
23 April 2015
As Delta police warn local residents about scammers who are making calls pretending to be utility company BC Hydro, one business owner has come forward to the media about her own experience with the scam. Shelley Metrow, owner of Tsawwassen’s Rose and Crown Pub, says that she was cheated out of approximately $3,600 by scammers using sophisticated technological techniques to make their calls appear to be coming from BC Hydro.
In an increasingly common fraud tactic called “phone spoofing”, fraudsters can use apps they download from the internet to cause their number to show up as a different number or name on their victims’ call displays. This tactic was used by the scammers who called Metrow in late February, claiming that her bills were overdue and power would be cut off to the pub if she didn’t provide payment immediately. The call display showed the caller as “BC Hydro”, and the callers knew everything about Metrow’s account, convincing her that the call was genuine.
The scammers encouraged Metrow to purchase PayPower prepaid cards to pay over the phone. Once she had purchased 11 $350 cards, she called back the 1-800 number given to her by the scammers, which led to a genuine-sounding answering service with an “operator”, who collected the financial information from Metrow and then hung up. It was only once she called BC Hydro’s main number to confirm her payment that she realized she’d been scammed.
The BC Hydro scam has been becoming more common across Canada in recent months and has begun to target small businesses like Metrow’s. Customers are encouraged to call BC Hydro directly at 1-800-BCHYDRO if they suspect a scam.