FOX 32 NEWS - It was a beautiful day: sunshine, shorts and the beach. They’re all signs that summer is almost here.
And while you dust off the grill and break out the sunscreen, scammers are busy at work.
More than 700 people have been targeted by crooks posing as ComEd and other utility employees, and this year, the thieves are targeting a specific segment of the community.
Norma Chilaca is a small business owner who's out 500 bucks after a scam artist, posing as a ComEd employee, called her up and told her if she didn't pay her bill immediately, the power at her Garfield Park hot dog shop would be shut off immediately. It was a call Norma had no reason to suspect was bogus.
"You'll get a call and the caller ID will be spoofed. It will say ComEd, leading the person to answer the phone thinking it is COMED,” said ComEd’s Vice President.
ComEd is warning Chicagoans to be on the lookout for another common scam: the "deceptive door knocker,” which is people dressed like utility workers who often wear id badges that look to be the real deal.
"They look very credible, people are typically very charming, they have a good story to tell, and this lack of awareness and people wanting to believe people are doing something good for them lead them to fall prey to these scams,” VP of ComEd said.
Norma became a victim after agreeing to purchase a pre-paid credit card and once they had their hooks in her, the scammers came calling again.
"Another gentleman calls me..his name was Bill and he stated that he was a manager of ComEd and that apparently there was a mistake and that the young lady who had called me earlier had made an error and that I owed 3-thousand dollars...I broke down...I don't have 3-thousand dollars,” Norma said.
ComEd says scammers are not targeting people at random. They’re preying on Latino customers, and on Latino small business owners. And if they're successful, the crooks often come back for more.
"Once they feel that you are a sucker, you will go on a sucker list and they will continue to try and get more and more money from you,” the BBB said.
There are tip-offs to the rip-offs: ComEd never calls its customers and demands immediate payment and they don't knock on doors looking for payment by pre-paid debit card. Anyone who is suspicious of a call or a door knock should call the 800 number listed on the ComEd website and speak to an authorized representative.