Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s latest woe came in the form of a fake website and a false news release that claimed its former CEO was donating $2.5 million to aid in recovery of the state’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire on record.
Aside from facing backruptcy and questions from state and federal regulators, PG&E confirmed Wednesday that someone re-created the San Francisco-based utilities company’s homepage and made up a press release with the headline “Former President and Chief Operating Officer Geisha Williams donates $2.5 million to wildfire response.”
A spokesperson for PG&E told NBC Bay Area that whoever created the website has also reached out to reporters to make sure the fake news release was seen.
The fake page appears exactly the same as the official PG&E website and all the links function and will lead you to the real web page, with the exception of the news release.
The news release made up a fake Williams quote that said “It’s my responsibility to be accountable in aftermath of this major fire — and I will do everything in my power to take that responsibility.”
Williams resigned just last week.
The URL pgecalifornia.com was first registered on Jan. 20, according to domain lookup website whois.net. It wasn’t immediately clear who was behind the hoax.
Cal Fire inspectors have blamed PG&E equipment for sparking a dozen fires across Northern California in 2017. Investigators are still looking into whether the utility’s equipment sparked the Camp Fire that killed at least 86 people.
PG&E announced last week it plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy because it can’t afford to pay at least $30 billion in expected damages due to deadly wildfires.
Under a PG&E bankruptcy, wildfire victims likely won’t get all of the money they have sued for, experts have said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This post was originally posted at http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Fake-PGE-Site-Falsely-Claims-CEO-Is-Donating-to-Wildfire-Victims-504768551.html.