by Mark Curtis, ABC6 Chief Investigative Reporter
Laura Rivera is burning mad after her disabled mom got ripped off, by a phone caller claiming to be from National Grid.
He called Saturday, saying the power would be shut off in 45 minutes over unpaid utility bills.
Rivera said, "My mom told them she did not owe them, and said 'hold on' and she got her bills."
Satisfied that she had paid, the caller then blamed the error on faulty electric meters saying they must be replaced immediately, or the house could catch fire.
Panic stricken, the victim was told to buy a $200 dollar "Green Dot" pre–paid credit card, so she could pay up - right away, over the phone.
She did as told and got ripped off.
Her daughter Laura River said, "I am devastated. I am also angry, because I can't believe people can actually do this."
ABC6 Investigative Reporter Mark Curtis said, "Now here is a good consumer tip if you get one of these calls threatening to cut off your power or gas. Ask the person for their number so you can call them back. When you are done with that call, call National Grid or the local police and find out if that number is legit."
It's a nationwide scam.
If you get a call from phone number (559)–800–8582, don't fall for it.
Call National Grid...and call police.
Tammy Miller is Director of the Consumer Protection Division of the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office. She said, "Nobody is going to really demand that you stop what you are doing, go out and get a Green Dot Card or get a Western Union for that. It's a huge red flag!"
So far Pawtucket Police have received two complaints, but many more victims may be out there.
The scammers are Spanish speaking and appear to be targeted low-income Latino families.