Water agencies from New Jersey to Oregon are warning customers to be on the alert for thieves posing as utility employees. Most recently, the city of Bayonne, N.J., released a statement which read, in part:
In the past week there have been three (3) incidents in the City where elderly residents have been victimized in their homes by individuals claiming to represent the City’s water utility company, United Water. All three instances occurred in the early afternoon hours, and resulted in the subsequent discoveries of cash missing from the homes. In two of these incidents the residents were approached while they were shoveling in front of their homes, while in the third incident the resident’s door bell was rung.
In all of the thefts, the individuals committing these crimes identified themselves as employees of the water utility, using fabricated United Water ID cards in two incidents.
That announcement followed similar incidents in Hillsboro, Ore., and Waco, Texas. In Oregon, police issued a warning about two male suspects who gained access to residential water customers' homes posing as utility workers. Business customers in Texas reported being contacted by individuals claiming to be collecting payments from Waco’s water department, city water utilities spokesman Jonathan Echols told the Waco Tribune.
An analysis in Water Online, looking into the issue also highlighted incidents involving the nation's largest publicly traded utility.
American Water, has done outreach around a scam that used President Obama's name to fool unsuspecting customers.
"The scam, which has been reported in a number of states, claims that President Barack Obama is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills. Customers are asked to provide their social security numbers to apply for the program. The scammers then give customers a phony bank routing number," the company explained.