By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff WriterPublished: February 17th, 2015

If a Google Calendar invitation pops up in your inbox, and it claims to be from your electric cooperative, you would be wise to call the co-op before clicking on it. Luckily, some members of a Colorado co-op did just that when they received an email that flunked the sniff test.

Co-op members should beware of a scam using an email meant to look like a Google Calendar item. (Photo Composite By: Michael W. Kahn)

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La Plata Electric Association has so far heard from a couple of dozen members who received the strange email. It claims to come from “Google Calendar” and has the subject line, “Your La Plata Electric bill is available.”

It’s that last part that is most frustrating to Dennis Svanes, chief financial officer of Durango, Colo.-based LPEA.

“A lot of our members are now accustomed to getting emails from us,” said Svanes, noting that this one “is relatively similar in appearance” to the monthly notifications LPEA sends out.

But there are some eyebrow-raising characteristics to this message, which includes an email address “@plantationcable.net.” That domain belongs to Plantation Cablevision, a Georgia-based cable television company. A man answering the phone at that company said the email address “could easily be spoofed” by being in the address book of an infected computer.

No one at LPEA clicked on the links in the email out of concern about viruses, and Svanes said that as far as they know, no members clicked, either. He said the email has all the earmarks of a phishing scam, with someone likely looking to steal members’ information.

“The other assumption is that when they make a payment—it is a payment reminder—it’s going to send money to [the scammers],” Svanes added.

LPEA quickly issued a press release to warn members. Svanes said the co-op constantly hears from members about suspicious activity, and he encouraged consumers to always call their co-op if any communication doesn’t look or sound right.

“There are a lot of different scams. It seems like every week we’re getting notified by our members of something a little unique,” Svanes said.

“I don’t want a single dime of our members’ money going to a scam.”