Beware of Scammers Demanding Bitcoin Payment for Utilities, Attorney General Warns | Chicago News

Beware of Scammers Demanding Bitcoin Payment for Utilities, Attorney General Warns | Chicago News

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Cryptocurrency transactions are nonetheless one thing of the Wild West, and scammers are utilizing that to their benefit.

In line with a warning from Lawyer Normal Kwame Raoul, thieves claiming to be affiliated with ComEd are contacting Illinois residents and threatening to close off their electrical energy until a purportedly “past-due” invoice is paid instantly. The victims of the rip-off are being informed to make their fee through Bitcoin, a type of foreign money that’s nearly unattainable to get well, even as soon as the con is found.

“Scammers are demanding cryptocurrency as a result of it’s instant and irreversible — by the point you make the switch, it’s too late,” Raoul stated in a press release. “It’s crucial that folks keep away from changing into a sufferer by being conscious that ComEd won’t acquire funds at kiosks that problem cryptocurrency.”

Digital foreign money is exchanged on-line, with out going via an middleman comparable to a financial institution. Within the absence of such an middleman, there’s no entity to handle issues throughout transactions or stop fraud, the lawyer normal’s workplace acknowledged. Moreover, Bitcoin funds don’t include the authorized protections that accompany credit score and debit playing cards. 

In line with Raoul’s workplace, the speed of cryptocurrency scams has skyrocketed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching a complete of $64 million in losses nationwide between Oct. 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.

It’s at all times a crimson flag if a scammer threatens to disconnect service, Raoul stated. Illinois legislation requires utilities to offer at the very least 10 days’ discover, in writing, earlier than taking such an motion. One other tip-off you’re being scammed: requests for fee through pay as you go money card, wire switch, reward card, cellular app or cryptocurrency. 

To report a possible rip-off, name the patron fraud hotline: 800-386-5438 (Chicago), 800-243-0618 (Springfield), or 800-243-0607 (Carbondale).

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 |  [email protected]

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