CLEVELAND — Officials at the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs are sending out a warning to small businesses and non-profits to be on alert for a new kind of impostor scam. 

Callers are posing as Illuminating Company employees and requesting payment in Bitcoin, which is not a payment method accepted by the electric company.

The targeted companies are told they are behind on payments and their power will be shut off in hours unless they make an immediate payment.

At least two such scams directed targeted companies to make a payment through a Bitcoin ATM. One company lost $3,000. Another was able to avoid the scam because someone had taped a note warning about the scam to the ATM.

An industrial company, a digital firm, a bar and a church have reported similar calls in the last few days.

“Power companies do not make calls threatening people with same-day or weekend shut offs. Only scammers do that,” said Sheryl Harris, Director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs.

Consumer Affairs urges all business owners to instruct staff to hang up on any call threatening immediate electric shutoff.

Companies or residents with questions about their bills should contact their electric provider using the number on their bills.

Report these scams to local police or to Scam Squad at 216-443-7226.