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BC Hydro says fraudsters posing as employees of the Crown utility conned customers out of thousands of dollars last year, making it the most scam-ridden period since frauds started gaining momentum in 2014.

Hydro says in a statement that it’s received nearly 6,000 reports of customers being contacted by swindlers in the last four years, and that 2,000 of those complaints came in 2018.

But the utility estimates the number of complaints is far lower than the actual number of scams, because it believes most attempted and successful frauds are not reported.

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It says customers provincewide were bilked out of more than $45,000 in 2018 alone, with Vancouver, Nanaimo, Surrey, Vernon, Burnaby and Richmond the most targeted communities.

Victims were contacted by phone, email or text, and were told that their electricity would be cut off if a payment was not received via prepaid cash or credit card, or through a bitcoin ATM.

Hydro is reminding customers that it does not accept payment in bitcoin or via prepaid cash or credit cards, and it sends notices by mail and automated telephone message if an account is in arrears.

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