Springfield -

Con artists are making calls and claiming to be with City Utilities.

They tell CU customers their bill is late and if they don't pay now they'll cut off power.

About two years ago Arianne Jones opened her own restaurant the Brown Egg in downtown Springfield. When she heard about the fraud alert, she was grateful for the warning.

"My first reaction would be, put the brakes on. I pay my bills. I know this isn't an issue, but the biggest thing is I need to make sure my team has been communicated to so this doesn't happen and it doesn't cause panic," said Jones.

The crooks tell owners like Jones, CU will cut power in 30 minutes if they don't send money. The con artists instruct folks to go to a convenience store and pay using an online account number.

"That is not the way City Utilities operates.  That's not the way most utilities would operate. You are going to have a lot of communication from us before we ever get to that point. It's not an immediate process," said Joel Alexander, with City Utilities.

A threat that hits too close to the kitchen.

"It's essential. It's against health code if you don't have electricity to keep the doors open," said Jones.

CU says the scam artists don't have a specific target.
They have called a hand full of businesses across the queen city.

CU workers encourage customers not to give out personal information if they get a similar phone call. They ask customers to call CU to report it.

Many of the calls have come from a 314 area code.

CU says they spend weeks talking with customers before they get to a shut-off point. Customers get several letters. CU workers always properly identify themselves.