A group of fraudsters sourced electricity bills from about 25 consumers in Bansilalnagar,Aurangabad made fake ones, distributed them and also collected the bill amount. They took advantage of some confusion after the bills' distribution system changed hands in the area.
The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) took over power distribution from GTL Urja in the city recently. It has been struggling to make arrangements for distribution of electricity bills.
Many residents of areas like Beed bypass, Jyotinagar, Garkheda, TV Centre, Jalgaon T-Point, Harsul, Mukundwadi and Samarth Nagar have not received bills for October. The MSEDCL has failed to take the readings of meters in these areas.
Raju Bagde, a consumers' representative, produced the fake bills in the district electrification committee meeting on Saturday. The committee directed the power distribution company to carry out a detailed inquiry and lodged a police complaint.
Bagde said many residents had been duped. "Pretending to be the employees of the power distribution company, some men distributed copies of electricity bills in the area and recovered money from 20-25 consumers. However, when we verified the receipts, we realized that the bills were fake," he said.
He said more cases would surface. "At present, there are reports of fake bills from only 20-25 people, but other localities may also be affected as the current bill distribution system has collapsed," he said.
Shinde said consumers may call the customer care centre of the company to verify their bills. "Although we have not yet come across any case of fake bills, the company will take steps to prevent such wrong practices. We will also examine the receipts and lodge police complaints," he said.
Shinde said the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited has opened 14 collection centres in the city. "Eight more collection points will be set up in the next 15 to 20 days. Consumers can also avail the online facility for a soft copy of the bills and make online payment. The consumers may also pay bills through their cellphones," he said.