A Fremont restaurant fell victim to a phone scam Thursday morning after a woman claiming to be with PG&E told them their power would be shut off if they didn't transfer $500, police said.
Officers responded to the Country Way Restaurant about 9:40 a.m. after employees reported a suspicious call they received from a woman claiming to be a PG&E representative, police spokeswoman Geneva Bosques said.
The woman on the line told the employee that the restaurant's power would be shut off unless a $500 payment was received within 30 minutes, Bosques said, and that the only method of payment they would accept was a MoneyPak. A MoneyPak is a "cash top-up card" that allows customers to make same-day payments to major companies, reload prepaid cards, and add money to a PayPal account without using a bank account.
The caller instructed the employee to go to a 7-11 store right away and perform the transaction, Bosques said. The business, afraid of having their power turned off, went ahead with the transaction and later realized that it was a scam.
Police confirmed that the call, which came from an 866 area code, was not legitimate and noted that PG&E does not demand payment via MoneyPak. The MoneyPak website warns of scams like the one called into the Country Way Restaurant, and urges consumers to only send their MoneyPak number to companies on their approved list.
Residents are urged to be cautious of anyone demanding a payment via MoneyPak for any utility or outstanding debt, to always check records before sending a payment and to call the company directly with questions or to verify a phone call, police said.