Dallas Local News

North Texas cities sound alarm on water utility fee scam, residents and businesses should be aware

Dallas, Texas – In a rapidly escalating series of fraudulent activities afflicting numerous cities throughout North Texas, authorities are issuing heightened alerts to residents and businesses concerning a sophisticated scam centering on spurious assertions about overdue water utility fees. A Lewisville-based hotel recently fell prey to the scam, thereby exacerbating the urgency of the situation. Earlier this year, a sophisticated scam targeted cash-strapped North Texans.

Lewisville hotel has been scammed and the city now urges local residents to be aware

Last week, law enforcement officials in Lewisville disseminated a cautionary message via their social media channels, in the wake of a surge of businesses being meticulously targeted by these cyber-marauders. The insidious subterfuge was initiated when representatives of a local hotel received a seemingly innocuous telephone call. During this conversation, the caller erroneously alleged that the hotel’s water utility bill was in arrears and demanded immediate payment to forestall the cessation of water services.

“During the conversation, they were sent a link to an online cash app payment place that when you open the link, it showed the City of Lewisville logo as the icon, and then an amount of $8,500 was requested to prevent the water from being shut off,” said City of Lewisville Spokesperson Matt Martucci.

Regrettably, the hotel’s staff proceeded to settle the stated amount, wholly oblivious to the malevolent swindle being perpetrated at their expense. It was only post facto, in a moment tinged with disquietude, that they questioned the authenticity of the transaction.

“They found it weird enough that they actually came into our water department to talk to someone in our billing department, and that’s how we all found out what was going on,” said Martucci.

Subsequent investigative endeavors have disclosed that the perpetrators are utilizing caller ID spoofing technologies to impersonate official municipal telephone numbers, thereby further obfuscating their fraudulent undertakings. Martucci revealed that at least four additional Lewisville hotels had been subjected to similar deceptions. Each incident featured phone numbers that seemed to originate from legitimate city offices.

Water bills scam issue persists in Dallas-Fort Worth, but in surrounding cities too

Adding to the alarm, the malefic scam appears to be proliferating throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. Subsequent to the City of Lewisville’s public admonishment urging vigilance, corroborative reports have emerged from multiple municipalities, affirming their residents’ and businesses’ subjection to analogous scams.

Amid the pervasive water utility scam plaguing the North Texas region, the City of Dallas has likewise entered a state of heightened vigilance. The municipal government took to its official water utility webpage to issue an unequivocal admonition, urging customers to “exercise discernment concerning scam phone calls and text messages” that maliciously assert imminent service disconnections due to purportedly overdue payments.

Concurrently, the City of Irving is disseminating warnings specifically aimed at its business community, noting an alarming symmetry with the tactics employed in Dallas and Lewisville. Deceptive callers have been brazenly instructing local businesses to facilitate expedited payments via Zelle to avert the shut-off of water services. The city’s official website unambiguously clarifies that they “do not sanction payments through this particular cash app,” a point Matt Martucci, the spokesperson for the City of Lewisville, categorizes as a “salient red flag.”

Martucci further articulated, for the benefit of the wider community, that under no circumstances would the city request or endorse cash payments, nor would it direct residents to download a cash-based mobile payment application. According to him, any such entreaty should be promptly identified and dismissed as fraudulent activity.

Despite the extensive dissemination of warnings and advisories, the law enforcement agencies involved have yet to apprehend any individuals in connection with this elaborate and expansive scam targeting water utilities across North Texas. The absence of arrests to date amplifies the need for sustained public awareness and scrutiny, even as investigations continue to unfold in an effort to halt this nefarious scheme.

Carlton Doyle

At his current position at the Dallas Metro, Carlton brings his extensive experience and sharp intellect to every story he covers. His writing is crisp and compelling, and his attention to detail is unparalleled. Whether he's delving into hard-hitting investigative pieces or writing about lighter topics, Carlton always brings his A-game.

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