Scammer bilks Fairfax County residents out of hundreds

WASHINGTON – A new scam in Fairfax County has some residents worried they better pay up or their electric meter might explode.

Dozens of residents and small business owners tell police they got a phone call from someone telling them their meter was broken and their electricity would be shut off and the meter might explode if they don’t pay — sometimes more than $500 dollars.

The scammer instructs the victim to purchase a prepaid debit card at a convenience store and call him back with the card’s number, police say.

The scammer speaks in Spanish and on several occasions has identified himself as “Jose Martinez.” The suspect appears to target all ethnicities, but recent targets have largely been Latino residents.

Fairfax County police urge residents to call their utility company as well as police if they receive such a call.

Additionally, they remind residents to never give out their social security number, credit card number or banking information to anyone who initiates contact.

“If you receive a call from someone claiming to be your utility company and feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up and call the utility to report the incident,” says a press release.

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