Police warn of phone scam targeting Spanish speakers - East Side

St. Paul Police Department’s Eastern District noticed a string of reports of a phone scammer on the prowl.

Police said Spanish-speaking adults have reported someone claiming to be from “Xcel Energy” had called them. The scammer would tell the victims they are past due on utility bills, and that their power will be shut off.

The scammer would then instruct the individuals how to pay the bill, by purchasing pre-paid credit cards and giving the card’s information to the scammer.

Jon Lozoya, East Team patrol commander, said his district received five such complaints from East Siders. This prompted a search of police reports, which revealed the problem was citywide.

The common denominator among victims: they were Spanish-speaking only.

At least two East Siders have fallen victim to the scam, Lozoya said, paying as much as a couple hundred dollars in fear that their electricity and natural gas service would be shut off.

Police encourage residents to contact Xcel Energy directly if they have questions about their bills. They can call 1-800-895-4999 or visit the power company’s website at www.xcelenergy.com.

Police urge anyone who receives a similar phone call to report it at 651-291-1111.

—  Patrick Larkin

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