Newport restaurant falls victim to phone scam

Nicole Gerber



They are convincing people to pay overdue bills over thephone, in a scam that's been ongoing in Rhode Island for almost a year.

Scammers call, saying your bill is past–due, and if you don't pay up right away they'll shut of your services. They claim to be from National Grid… but they aren't.

And now officials say they seem to be targeting the East Bay, Newport County area.

In the midst of that area, the Hungry Monkey cafe has been a Newport staple for more than 5 years. Located right next–door to the Newport Police Department… it's only fitting that retired Sgt. James Quinn is theowner.

For decades he worked to protect the community fromcon–artists and scams.

He never thought his business would fall victim to one after one of his employees received a phone call fromsomeone claiming to be from National Grid.

“The individual stated that they had not received payment,and demanded immediate payment or utilities would be shut off to the business,” said Quinn.

Panicked, the employee made a payment over the phone of nearly $1500. Money lost to con-artists.

 This big of a financial hit during a point in time when Newport isn'tparticularly thriving, means they'll have to look elsewhere to makeup thefunds.

“You know having to go into our own personal finances to helpfloat the business,” said Quinn.

The Attorney General's office is working with local lawenforcement and national grid to try and track down the scammers…

They believe they're operating from out of state.

“And consumers to know that National Grid just doesn't utilizethat type of strong–arming to get consumers to pay a bill under the threat ofbeing shut off on their electric,” said AG Peter Kilmartin.

 If you get one of these scam calls, call National Gridcustomer service at 1-800-322-3223, and the Attorney General's office at (401) 274-4400 to report it.

And if you get a call but you're not sure if it's a scam, listen for how they ask you to pay.

If the caller won't take your credit or debit card, butdemand you get a pre–paid card, that's a serious red flag.

(c) WLNE-TV 2014