UPDATED Thursday, July 12, 2012 --- 2:36 p.m.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Thousands of Americans have fallen victim to a fast-moving scam that claims to be part of an Obama administration program to help pay utility bills in the midst of a scorching summer.
The scheme spread quickly across the nation in recent weeks with help from victims who unwittingly shared it on social media sites before realizing they had been conned out of personal information such as Social Security, credit card and checking account numbers.
People from all corners of the country report being duped, from New Jersey to California, Wisconsin to Florida and all parts in between.
The scam benefits from being cleverly executed and coming at a time when air conditioners in much of the country are running around the clock to tame record-high temperatures.
Posted Thursday, July 12, 2012 --- 10:59 a.m.
Press Release from the City of Madison:
The Madison Water Utility is warning customers about a scam that claims President Barack Obama is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills through a new stimulus program.
The scammers are telling customers that a new federal program will pay their utility bills in exchange for personal information. The victims are given fraudulent bank information to use when paying their bills online.
The utility says that they do not make unsolicited calls, texts or email messages asking for Social Security numbers or bank account numbers. Payments made using the routing numbers identified with this scam will not be accepted by the utility, and the money cannot be applied to customers' bills. If utility customers have been victims of this scam, they should call the Wisconsin Consumer Protection hotline at 224-4953.