Nationwide, energy customers are being caught up in an electricity prepayment meter fraud. Criminals are using cloned keys to top up credit illegally.
Some people are being offered £50 of electricity meter credit for a cash payment of just £25. Energy companies can always tell when they haven't received payment for the electricity that has been used. Any customer buying credit from a criminal will end up paying twice, first to the criminal and then to their energy company. Only the criminal benefits.
Over 120,000 households have been involved already. Customers of British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, ScottishPower and SSE* are affected. Energy UK, working with the energy companies and Consumer Focus, have launched a national campaign called Top-up Safe. It gives advice to electricity prepayment meter customers to top-up only through PayPoint, Payzone and The Post Office.
Top-up Safe warns customers through messages on receipts that customers get when they buy electricity top-up from official outlets. Companies are contacting their customers to let them know about this illegal activity. Regional promotional campaigns have targeted areas where many people have been affected by this fraud.
Energy companies never sell electricity top-up door-to-door. There is evidence of serious and organised criminal activity. The police are targeting those thought to be involved in cloning pre-payment electricity keys. A reward of £10,000 is offered for any information leading to arrests and convictions.
See a video of a Police raid of premises in Tottenham March 2011.
For more information please see the Top-Up Safe website.
*SSE brands include Southern Electric, Scottish Hydro, SWALEC and Atlantic