We can now hear the voice of the serial caller reported to have targeted dozens of female real estate agents with unsettling conversations across at least 13 states over the past six months.
A Realtor in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, has come forward to share audio recordings with Inman, said to be from three voicemails left for her on March 24 and 26 by a man identifying himself as “Dwayne Bergeman” — the same name given by a caller to other female agents across the U.S.
The caller’s urgency, as well as his deep voice, have raised alarm bells among agents, prompting local Realtor associations in Boston, Pittsburgh and Little Rock to issue safety alerts to members over concern the caller may pose physical harm to agents.
Banal as the messages may be — “I’m looking to buy a house. Please call me back.” — the audio may provide the first published evidence of the man’s voice for agents trying to determine if they, too, have been targeted. The Realtor said she was motivated to share the audio after reading Inman’s recent news coverage of the caller. She provided the audio, and Inman made the decision to keep her name anonymous for safety reasons.
“He said he didn’t have a lender but that he had a bank account,” the Detroit Lakes Realtor told Inman, noting that she later notified police in Detroit Lakes and real estate association in the area. “I told him I’m not going to show you any properties unless you’re qualified with the lender, and then he said, ‘Well, I’m coming Monday to look at properties.’ And I told him I wouldn’t show him anything, but he kept on saying ‘I’m coming on Monday. I’m going to be there.’”
The nine-minute conversation on Saturday was the only discussion the woman had with the man, but he nonetheless called back within two minutes, she said, leaving a message in which he claims to have found a lender to help him with the purchase of a home in the $500,000 range.
“Uh, Hi, this is Dwayne again and I just spoke to a lender and he is going to call me on Monday,” the man says. “If you hear this give me a call back as soon as you get this. Thanks.”
Sunday went by with no word from the man, but on Monday he called eight times from two separate Oregon area codes, leaving a pair of messages that the woman said caused her to fear he had arrived in her town of fewer than 10,000 residents, located about an hour east of Fargo.
“I’m looking to buy a house,” he says. “[Inaudible]. Please call me back. Thanks. Bye.”
The third and final message came shortly afterward. In it, he indicates that he missed a call from the broker, but the woman said she never called the man back after the initial conversation on Saturday.
“Yes,” says the man. “Hi. Just missed your phone call. If you can, please call me back. Bye.”
While the man never said anything inappropriate to the woman, the conversation left her unsettled, she said.
“It’s a weird feeling because when you are a rural Realtor, you go out all the time. I have to,” said the woman, who added that she believes the man may be using audio tools to manipulate his voice, which at times sounds mechanical and is frequently disrupted by static feedback. “So now I have this sense of fear, and I don’t want to be dramatic about it, but it is there. So it’s really unfortunate that he’s affected so many people because I can imagine other people are feeling the same way I am. I’m sure he’s just a weirdo, but it has affected the way I think.”
The Detroit Lakes Realtor is hardly alone in having her alarm bells raised by the man’s sense of urgency in his calls.
There is concern from real estate safety advocates — including Carl Carter, the son of murdered Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Carter and founder of his mother’s namesake Beverly Carter Foundation dedicated to agent safety — that Bergeman and similar callers may pose physical safety threats to agents, particularly women.
So far, the caller hasn’t made any threats, but the rushed nature of his desire to see properties with agents, and his apparent spree of calls to female agents across the country, have caused agents to view him suspiciously.
“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 a Tempe, Arizona-based Realtor in a Facebook post last week. “After the call, I Googled his name and found him in lots of different articles.”
“He called me out of nowhere, and it really was just the way he was talking to me that I could tell something was off about him,” the Tempe, Arizona-based agent told Inman last week, adding that she informed police of the calls shortly thereafter. “When he called me he was very, very weird. He was short with me, and he was vague — he just said he wanted a house.”
The Arizona call follows previous incidents in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Salem and Portland in Oregon; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Boston, Massachusetts; Little Rock, Arkansas; Greenwich, Connecticut; Detroit Lakes, Minnesota; Denver, Colorado; Nashville, Tennessee; Columbia, South Carolina; Las Vegas, Nevada; and parts of North Carolina and Hawaii, according to news reports and brokers who reached out to Inman over the past week to share their own stories.
In Boston, at least four female real estate agents from Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty and a fifth from another brokerage reported calls from “Bergeman” in October, according to John Dulczewski, executive vice president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors.
In each case, the man “expressed an urgency in wanting to see property as quickly as possible” and in one case he called one of the agents multiple times, Dulczewski told Inman.
“Despite the strength of the market here, it was that urgency that raised red flags,” said Dulczewski, who added that his association has since reached out to all of its members and other associations across Massachusetts to alert them to the phone calls.
“The concern,” he added, “would be some sort of physical attack and the risk posed to the agents’ safety by interacting with an individual they have no prior familiarity or contact with.”
Email Jotham Sederstrom