Another Bitcoin Scam Surfaces Targeting Utility Customers


Another Bitcoin scam has surfaced in Las Vegas where power utility customers are told they will be disconnected unless they immediately pay in crypto.


An old scam has gotten a cryptocurrency twist over the last year. The scam in question is the old utility payment scam, and it has recently cropped up in Las Vegas.

A Crypto Update on an Old Con

The MO of this particular shakedown is that a customer receives a call from someone pretending to be a representative of a utility company, such as power, water, or phone. The “rep” tells them that their account has not been paid in months and that the service will be disconnected in an hour or two unless immediate payment is made.

In the past, the scammer would ask for a credit card payment or perhaps an over-the-phone check payment. The rise of cryptocurrency has added a new wrinkle as scammers are now asking for a payment in Bitcoin.

The latest instance of this Bitcoin scam takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada. Reports have surfaced that customers are getting calls from a scammer pretending to be a representative for NV Energy, the local power company.

One man, Jose Ontiveros, was almost a victim. He detailed how his family got a call that their power would be disconnected in 30 minutes unless he paid in Bitcoin. The scammer gave him instructions to go to a nearby Bitcoin ATM and make a payment. Ontiveros avoided the Bitcoin scam as he’s familiar with cryptocurrency and that the scammer kept calling back every 2 to 3 minutes to ask if he was getting ready to send the payment.

Bitcoin Scam Alerts!

The exact same Bitcoin scam happened on the West Coast and in Hawaii. Power company “reps” would call customers and attempt to get them to make an immediate Bitcoin payment in order to keep their service from being disconnected.

The level of detail can be quite astonishing in cases. In Hawaii, a spokesperson for the local electric company said:

They sound so convincing. Even when they ask you to call back, they have prompts that sound or mimic our prompts when we have automated calls or recorded messages. They’re very convincing, so we just want to make sure the public is aware of these calls, and what we’re asking them to do is please do not call back the number that you see on your caller ID.

This type of Bitcoin scam is a drop in the bucket compared to other cryptocurrency scams, such as phishing and ICO scams that earned over $2.3 million in the second quarter of 2018. However, the con of a disconnected utility hits a person in their home and causes a great deal of angst. Remember to always call your actual utility company to confirm the standing of your account before taking action. Also, no utility company will demand payment only in cryptocurrency.

Have you been a victim of a Bitcoin scam? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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