In the wake of disturbing calls last week to female real estate agents in Arizona by a man identifying himself as “Dwayne Bergeman,” a Manhattan agent says a separate caller claiming ties to actress Sarah Jessica Parker has been targeting her brokerage for months.
A 25-year-old agent, who spoke to Inman on the condition her name and brokerage would not be identified, said that between January and March she and at least four other female colleagues received a deluge of disturbing calls from a man claiming to be a London photographer in search of an apartment. She received eight calls from the would-be client, usually from a blocked number, until she changed her own in March. She only answered two of them.
“It was weird,” said the woman, who described herself as a relatively new agent who deals with both rentals and condos. “He pretended he was a photographer for Sarah Jessica Parker, and that he was a shoe photographer, and then he was telling me he was doing a shoot where [the actress] had to step on these big cockroaches, and he was asking me how I felt about it, and he was asking me what size shoe I was, and then he was telling me about a photo shoot with her in Hawaii where he had to, like, machete boars. It was just these increasingly vulgar stories.”
Over the course of her first 20-minute conversation with the man — the first of two, before she stopped answering calls from blocked numbers — the talk circled back to questions about her feet multiple times, she said. He initially requested to see apartments starting at “$1 million” a month, but later adjusted his target rent to between $8,000 and $15,000, the woman said.
“He also complained that he wasn’t a good looking man, but he said, ‘I’ve been told I’ve got a good …’ He was talking about his junk,” said the woman, who described the man’s voice as British-inflected and said he snorted when he laughed. “After that I was, like, alright I gotta go.”
In the second and last call that the Manhattan agent accepted from the caller in February, the man spoke in a high-pitched voice and claimed to be gay in an effort to conceal his identity. During that call, the man circled back to the subject of shoes and in both calls he attempted to prolong the conversations. In a separate phone interview with Inman, the woman’s boyfriend corroborated some of the details, recalling her rising fear in January and February as the calls continued, unabated.
“It’s so creepy,” said the woman, who did not report the calls to police, but did call Verizon in an effort to track the blocked calls. “I don’t even want to walk to my office sometimes. I’ve started to work remotely from my apartment because I don’t know what kind of freak this is.”
According to the woman, at least four other colleagues also received similar calls from a man claiming to be Sarah Jessica Parker’s photographer, and conversations returned again to footwear. Ina Treciokas, a publicist for the actress, told Inman on Monday that no such photographer was aligned with Sarah Jessica Parker, and that she planned on reporting the incidents to local law enforcement.
“We don’t know anything about this but I would love and appreciate any information you can pass along because we need to probably report this to the police,” said Treciokas. She later added in an email: “I’m concerned at present regarding possible security issues.”
In a statement, Real Estate Board of New York President John Banks said members of the trade association have not reported similar incidents involving the Manhattan caller, but he emphasized that broker safety is paramount to the 17,000-member group.
“Safety is of the utmost importance across our industry,” said Banks. “We urge agents and brokers to actively communicate with their colleagues and managers to report and investigate unlawful harassment, including contacting their local authorities.”
News of the Manhattan calls come as authorities seek information on a series of strange calls to female agents in Arizona last week by a man identifying himself as “Dwayne Bergeman.”
The man, whose call to a Realtor in Tempe last week circulated on social media, has also targeted female agents in Massachusetts, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, North Carolina, Louisiana and Oregon, according to safety advocates and other brokers.
In those calls, the man typically attempts to schedule home showings with the broker, who in most cases he has called directly, often using a blocked phone number, or in other cases a number from an Oregon area code, agents and a safety advocate told Inman.
“A man with an extremely deep voice by the name of DWAYNE BERGEMAN called me today claiming to be a buyer and I could tell by how vague he was as well as how delayed his responses were that something was off,” wrote the Arizona Realtor in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “After the call, I Googled his name and found him in lots of different articles.”
In an interview with Inman, the Realtor said her conversation with the man was vague. He indicated only that he was looking for a single-family, three-bedroom home in north Phoenix with a pool and two-car garage, and he remained tight-lipped throughout the four-minute talk.
Since her social media posts, several other women in Arizona and Hawaii have come forward to claim similar calls from a man identifying himself with the same name, “Dwayne Bergeman.” And on Tuesday, a female broker associate in Connecticut reported receiving a call from Bergeman from an Oregon phone number. She relayed the information to her trade association in Greenwich.
Carl Carter, the son of Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Carter, who was kidnapped and murdered in 2014 after showing a home to a man who she believed was a prospective buyer, told Inman last week that in many of the incidents involving “Bergeman” agents have reported to local authorities a man with the “creepiest, deepest voice,” they’ve ever heard,
“He’s been hitting all over, from Baton Rouge in Louisiana to Portland, Oregon to North Carolina, and it’s just sort of odd what he’s doing,” Carter said. He founded the Beverly Carter Foundation after his mother’s death to help improve safety for real estate agents nationwide.
If you have more information about “Dwayne Bergeman” or a caller targeting women in New York, please contact your local authorities. If you’re willing to share your experience, email us.
Email Jotham Sederstrom