Julie, Julie, Julie

A journey down the Nextdoor rabbit hole

I fell down a rabbit hole last week and couldn’t claw my way out. Not surprisingly, it began with a post on Nextdoor.

A victim of credit card fraud, Julie Dee, asked people whether they’d also experienced fraud. If so, she would contact them. The Mill Valley Police Department is investigating a local business, she said.

“I am doing the legwork to identify other possible victims since the police detective (Mill Valley has two) does not have the time,” Julie wrote.

Scores of folks responded “yes.” Others pleaded for the name of the business. Julie refused to reveal it.

With so many people falling prey to fraud, I smelled a news story. I called Sgt. Shaun McCracken at the Mill Valley Police Department. They didn’t have a fraud report from Julie Dee and hadn’t asked anyone to gather information, McCracken said.

I posted McCracken’s statements. Julie pushed back, suggesting she was using a fake name on Nextdoor and saying the police knew she was identifying victims. Nextdoor promptly removed her account for using an alias, and the post disappeared.

The next day, Julie and the deleted post returned, this time under a different last name. Within hours, she changed her last name to an initial.

“I thought she was legit until the 3 versions of her last name,” a Sausalito neighbor posted.

Soon there were hundreds of comments. Some questioned Julie’s motives. Julie lashed out, often at me. Suffering from I’m-Always-Right syndrome, I repeated the facts. Back and forth we went.

Sources messaged me: Julie alleges the business is a nail salon. I posted that. Clearly, not all these people were defrauded by a manicurist.

“This is officially the weirdest Nextdoor post I’ve seen ever,” a Mill Valley resident wrote.

The Mill Valley police posted their own statement after receiving calls about a private citizen investigating fraud. They confirmed an investigation; however, they never asked a citizen for assistance. Crime victims should file a report with the police, not a private party, they said.

Julie said the police posted the statement at her request and only two people had called the department. Nope. McCracken told me the police received “a number” of calls. He knew nothing about Julie asking them to post a statement.

“Someone is McCracked up and it’s not the sergeant,” a Larkspur woman wrote.

Julie’s post garnered a whopping 375 comments before it was shut down. It turns out the frenzy was for naught.

“At this point, there is one single victim,” McCracken said. “We haven’t been able to detect a pattern of fraud from this business.”

My advice: pay cash. Oh, and stay off Nextdoor.

Nikki Silverstein
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