HERCULES — A frozen yogurt shop in Hercules was defrauded of $1,500 on Tuesday by a suspect claiming to be from PG&E who demanded immediate payment via pre-paid debit card, a police detective said.
An officer responded around 3:20 p.m. Tuesday to a report of the fraud at the Tutti Frutti store at 3700 San Pablo Ave., according to Hercules police Detective Connie Van Putten.
Van Putten said a store employee told police she had received a phone call from a man who identified himself as a PG&E representative and said the store’s account was past due.
The suspect told the employee that an immediate $1,500 payment was required or PG&E would shut the store’s power off.
After several additional calls from two other suspects claiming to be from PG&E, the victim bought a Green Dot prepaid $1,500 debit card, called the suspect back and gave him the card number to access the funds.
The victim later became suspicious of the phone calls and found that the Green Dot card had already been cashed.
Van Putten said the PG&E scam is ongoing and resembles other scams in which a person claiming to be from the IRS demands someone’s personal information or immediate payment via a prepaid service.
Suspects in these types of scams tend to target “people with foreign-sounding last names” and the elderly, she said.
Police are reminding the public that PG&E does not ask customers to pay bills with a prepaid service such as a re-loadable debit card or PayPal.
PG&E customers who receive similar calls are encouraged to contact the utility directly by calling the number on their monthly bill rather than returning the call of someone claiming to be from PG&E.
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