Purported thief leaves flyers asking for donations to stop stealing

Published: Aug. 14, 2022 at 11:39 PM AKDT
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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) - Police are urging people not to send money after San Francisco residents found flyers on their cars claiming to be from a thief who wants to stop stealing and asked for help paying their bills.

Marcia Saephan found a flyer on her windshield when she parked near the University of San Francisco. It read, “I don’t want to steal anymore! But I still have bills to pay. Can you help me please?” The flyer then lists three ways to pay: Cash App, Bitcoin and PayPal.

Saephan believes the flyer amounts to extortion. She says she was afraid that if she didn’t pay, her car could get broken into.

Flyers distributed on cars in San Francisco read, “I don’t want to steal anymore! But I still...
Flyers distributed on cars in San Francisco read, “I don’t want to steal anymore! But I still have bills to pay. Can you help me please?” They then list three ways to pay: Cash App, Bitcoin and PayPal.(Source: Instagram/@ItsTheBay, KGO via CNN)

“I was actually a little scared, a little rattled. I didn’t know if they were going to come back to break into my car or anyone else’s car,” she said. “It was something I had to consider every time I came to work and actually adjusting the way I parked and where I parked. So, it did affect me, and it still does.”

Saephan says multiple cars had the same flyer. She says car break-ins around the area happen frequently, especially during the holidays.

Even though she decided not to pay, her co-worker who also got the flyer did send money.

Etay Maor, the senior director of security strategy at Cato Networks, is a cybersecurity expert. He said this type of crime involving crypto and apps is in some cases hard to trace.

“Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency based on a block chain, so while it’s impossible to know who’s behind a specific wallet, you can still follow traces and see which transactions reach which wallet,” he said.

PayPal confirmed the account included on the flyer is real. After investigating, the company is taking action to terminate the account.

“Any illegal behavior is a direct violation of the PayPal user agreement, and any violations of this nature will result in an account being terminated,” said the company in part.

San Francisco Police said this is the first time they have seen this criminal approach but confirmed the city is experiencing an uptick in auto burglaries. Police haven’t confirmed if the person behind the flyer is a suspect of any crime and urged people not to send money.

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