There have been reports of several different scams that have been attempted in the Cumberland area and throughout the State of RI. The following is a list and brief description of common scam schemes that have been reported to the police:
National Grid Scam: The Attorney General's office has issued an alert to be aware of a new scam that is going around. This scam involves a caller posing as a representative from National Grid who tries to convince you that your account is delinquent and money is owed immediately. Business owners have been the main target in this scam but anyone could fall victim. Like other scams, the caller tries to be intimidating stating that your utilities will be turned off unless payment is made immediately. The requested form of payment is iTunes cards. National Grid does not demand direct payments over the telephone especially in the form of iTunes cards.
Grandchild Arrested: The caller states that the call recipient's grandchild was arrested and is in jail, usually in a foreign country or another state in the U.S. The request is for money to account for bail, attorney fees, or to pay for damage to property or vehicles. The caller asks for money through a Money Gram, Western Union, pre-paid credit cards, or iTunes cards. They then direct the caller to wire the money to them or give them the 16 digit codes on the back of the credit/iTunes cards. Once the caller has this information, there is no chance of getting your money back. Please check with family members and make sure they are safe and not in jail before thinking about wiring money to anyone. Multiple victims have fallen prey to this scam and the usual take of money is between $2000 - $4000 dollars. The caller will ask you to purchase these services at a local drug or grocery store.
IRS Warrants: In this scam the caller poses as an IRS agent and states that you are delinquent in paying and if money is not received they will issue a warrant for your arrest. The IRS does not ask for money over the phone or use the tactic of threatening to get a warrant for your arrest. Do not send money to anyone posing as an IRS agent.
Lottery Winner: This scam, which has been around for a long time, tries to coax you into thinking you have won a large sum of money from a lottery or you have been named a prize winner. They ask for money to process your winnings. Spoiler alert - you did not win a lottery!!
Death Benefits: This is the most reprehensible scam/crime becoming more prevalent. This scam tries to take advantage of people who are grieving the loss of a loved one. The callers make the statement that money is owed on an insurance policy and in order to receive any death benefit, a sum of money needs to be paid to satisfy what is owed on the policy. Please check with your insurance carrier before sending money to anyone making this claim.
How Do I Protect Myself From Scams?
If you receive a phone call that is asking for money to be wired via Money Gram or Western Union, it is most likely a scam. Other methods of payment that are asked for include purchasing iTunes cards or any variety of pre-paid debit/credit cards. Please be vigilant and always do your part to check first before sending any payment. Tell the caller that you need to check things out before you send them money. They will be aggressive. They will try to pressure you into making that payment. Don’t do it. Tell them to call you back and that you want to make some phone calls to confirm their request. If in doubt, call the police.