Police in Pacifica are warning residents of a recently reported utility scam, which also has apparently victimized an elderly San Jose man.
The scam generally targets businesses, police said.
A person calls the business claiming to be a PG&E employee, informing the victim that he or she must immediately make a payment for an overdue bill or the service will be shut off, according to police.
The businesses are asked for bank account, credit card or pre-paid debit card information to pay the bill.
Doug Peters, who owns the venerable Peters Bakery in East San Jose, on Saturday told this newspaper he was out $1,800 after falling victim to the same scam. The fraudsters threatened to shut off power to his bakery unless he paid up.
Peters, who is in his 70s and disabled, said he was unable to visit a PG&E office in person to verify the claim. He explained: "When you get a phone call that says somebody's going to cut off your power right away..."
He transmitted the cash via money order, but two days later, the same men called to claim he owed more. By that point, Peters had gotten hold of his bookkeeper, who told him his account with PG&E was up to date. The men said they would send him a refund, which he has not received.
Police said PG&E has also noted a similar scam conducted by email under the same pretense.
News reports last month indicated that San Mateo County sheriff's deputies and PG&E officials had investigated after someone emailed and called a business in unincorporated Montara, about five miles from Pacifica.
PG&E does not ask for personal or bank or credit card information over the phone, police said.
Anyone receiving suspicious calls or emails may contact PG&E customer service at (800) 743-5000 or police at (650) 738-7314.
Staff writer Peter Delevett contributed to this report.
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