PG&E Phone Scam Targets Chico Businesses

Oct 15, 2013 4:16 PM

By Nick Dobis, News Web/ Social Media Producer

PG&E has confirmed several businesses in Chico have been the targets of a phone scam asking them to make emergency payments on their PG&E bills or face losing their services immediately.

This afternoon Action News Now received a phone call from David Whyte of Kona’s sandwich shop located on Nord Avenue. Whyte stated around 12:15 p.m. he received a phone call from a male with a Hispanic accent claiming to be a payment center representative for PG&E. The man then reportedly told White if his business did not make an emergency payment on his bill, PG&E services to Kona’s would cease immediately. Whyte found the phone call suspicious as Kona’s has two solar panels which feed back into PG&E’s power grid. White then contacted PG&E who told him the call was a scam.

Becky Dawson, a manager of Papa Murphy’s on Eaton Road in Chico, also notified Action News Now their business had also been targeted by the phone scammers. Dawson stated she received a phone call today from a man who said he was from PG&E and Papa Murphy’s service was scheduled to be shut off within the hour for payment delinquency. The man said the payment needed to be made "right now" to avoid having their power shut off. Dawson also said the man even confirmed the address and name of the business. Dawson stated the number that showed on her caller ID was 760-820-8914. PG&E also confirmed with Dawson the call was a scam.

Paul Moreno, PG&E Spokesman, said these types of scams have generally ebbed and flowed in recent years, but this specific scam has targeted residents and businesses in this coverage area fairly recently.

“It is hard to discover who exactly is behind these particular scams,” Moreno said. “But we are continuously working with law enforcement to learn more about these scams and who may be behind them.”

Moreno also stated these scammers have even contacted Mexican restaurants in the north state speaking fluent Spanish.

According to Moreno, the scammers contact the account holder, either a business or resident, and state if they do not make an emergency payment via a pre-paid card, cash card, or Pay Pal account, their services will be immediately shut off. Moreno said this should be a first tip the call is a scam because PG&E does not accept pre-paid cards for account payments.

We are awaiting a phone call back from the Chico Police Department’s Detective Bureau to confirm exactly how many Chico businesses have reported being a target of the phone scam.


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