Scam making rounds, Callers pretending to be PG&E


FORTUNA, Calif. (KIEM)-A woman in Fortuna falls victim to the latest phone scam making its round, she shared her story with Redwood News, so no one else would fall victim.  

Fortuna resident Jean Sanders is now extra cautious when she answers her phone.

“The phone rang Saturday morning, 11:20, and they said, “Good morning this is PG&E” and it starts out exactly like the real one does,” she said.  

So, when the caller threatened to cut off her power off – she panicked.

“In 20 minutes your electricity will be off, and you said that last night.”

Sanders is referring to what she heard on our newscast – that PG&E had planned outages for parts of Humboldt County, however, the outages have nothing to do with an outstanding power bill.  

For safety precautions, the utility company wanted to be proactive ahead of fire weather expected in the area.

“So it’s believable, so I said OK, so when will you turn it back on? How long will my electricity be off, and he said, not until you pay us $869,” she said.

Sanders says, she was in doubt but the man on the phone was aggressive – and took advantage of her during a vulnerable time – her son died Thursday.

“He said, I need the money now lady, don’t you understand, and I said, I was, I’m still in grief, my emotions are very fragile, I said OK, OK, I can’t handle the stress, so I got my credit card and I gave him my VISA credit card,” she said.  

Lt. Matt Eberhardt with Fortuna Police says, his identity has been stolen before, having been a victim himself, he can sympathize.

“It happens, it’s sad to see, and we definitely want people to be cautious,” he said.

Lieutenant matt Eberhardt says, these type scams -whether by phone, mail or online – can happen to anyone.

“I get several phone calls a day a lot of times,” he said.

Those often claim to be someone they’re not, according to Eberhardt.

Eberhardt says, unfortunately scammers are often operating outside of the United States – prosecuting them is nearly impossible.

“There is really no criminal recourse that we can deal with,” he said.

Cyndi Shook has been an elderly care provider for years -she educates her clients on what to look for. 

“Anything with the federal or the state, or anything like that, PG&E, anything like that, they will send you a notice in the mail,” she said.