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Utility scam targets immigrants in Virginia

Tuesday - 4/9/2013, 2:24pm  ET

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Some local residents have been bilked out of hundreds of dollars by a utility scam.

They have received calls from someone claiming to be from their utility company. They are told they have an overdue bill and that their service will be shut off if they don't pay. The victims are even given a number to call to verify the late bill.

The scam tactics are not new, but police say the scammers are targeting immigrant populations, Arlington police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck says. Latinos and Indians are especially at risk, he says.

"This cases in Arlington have resulted in losses ranging anywhere from $200 to $1,000 in the past month," he says.

A utility company would never threaten to cut off service for one late bill and you would receive several late notices first, Sternbeck says.

His advice is to check your last bill and then call the number on the bill to verify if you owe anything.

Although the latest victims were in Arlington, the scam has turned up in other areas across the D.C. region, including Fairfax County.

If you think you may have been a victim of this crime, police at 703-558-2222.

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