Thursday, March 3, 2016

'Front Porch' scam hits Milwaukee suburbs

Several attempts of “front porch scams” were made in some northern suburbs of Milwaukee County recently. The scam starts with a suspect approaching the victim saying they are a city worker or from a utility company.

One Glendale resident recently became victim of this scam. The resident was approached by a man pretending to be a city employee, explaining that he needed to do tree trimming in the resident’s yard. While the resident was distracted by this individual, the home was burglarized.

The Glendale Police Department advises that if anyone is approached in this manner to deny access to your home. These scammers sometimes change their approach and say they are We Energies employees.

“The first thing they do is earn your trust,” said Tom Eells manager of corporate security with We Energies. “They identify themselves and explain a story of an accident or power pole that came down that may affect the victim’s power.”

Usually, a second criminal comes into the home while the first is distracting the victim and quickly grabs items such as jewelry, money and other valuables.

This scam is not unique to We Energies customers. It has been reported by numerous other utility companies in the United States.

Impersonating a utility worker in Wisconsin is a felony. If convicted, the felon can receive a maximum fine of $10,000 and/or a prison term of three-and-half years. Eells helped create the law back in the 1990s.

We Energies did have contracted tree trimming crews in the area at the time of these incidents, and it’s possible the suspects saw them working and used their work as a way to start a conversation with the victims.

Be smart and stay safe with this tip:

 All of our employees and contractors carry an identification card. Every card displays a photo of the individual and our company name and logo. Some cards include the individual’s ID number and our company phone number instead of the individual’s name. Contractor ID cards also show the name of their company.

When in doubt, call us at 800-242-9137. We can help confirm an employee’s or contractor’s identity.

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