Con-artists check wallets, not wires

By Abraham Miller

Halloween might be over, but some con-artists do not seem to think so. Their costumes are from your utility company and their treats are in your purse.

There are variations, but the one con that comes up every Halloween uses the guise of the Commonwealth Edison Company.

One masquerade typical of the Halloween con occurred several years ago to an unsuspecting woman.

According to an Edison press release, the woman allowed two men claiming to be a pair utility company employees to enter her home for a power system inspection. While she turned on all the lights in her living room at their request they rummaged through her belongings and walked away with $2,500.

But don’t expect this only in the trick-or-treating season.

“Similar cons also occur seasonally,” said Jeffery Madsen, company spokesperson for Commonwealth Edison. He also said the con artists can use any utility as a cover.

As the usual con goes, two men dressed in company uniforms arrive at a residence claiming they must make an inspection within the house. The reasons include a fall, spring, winter or summer inspection, or just simply a routine checkup.

Once in the home, one member will keep the resident occupied as another searches the residence for anything of value.

Another charade pulled off occasionally, in various communities, involves con artists arriving in the usual costume and claiming the company owes a refund, but they don’t have anything but a large denomination bill. The rest follows as a usual change-making scam.

Madsen also said although the reports show anyone could be a victim, statistics show the elderly are most commonly targeted.

When asked what people could do to protect themselves and their belongings, Madsen suggested householders having workers seeking entry to their home should ask to see the worker’s picture identification before allowing them in.

Madsen also stressed Commonwealth Edison customers should know the company does not perform unrequested wiring inspections, nor does it refund through any means other than check or bill credit.

If a person is still in doubt about a work order, they should contact Edison at 1-800-EDISON-1, or the local police.