Scammers target East Bay businesses

By: Melissa Toupin

1776 Liquors in Bristol does what ever it can to ward off thieves, but earlier this week the threat wasn't inside their shop. Instead it was on the phone. Scammers, pretending to be National Grid, called the store out of the blue.

“They mentioned that there was a work crew in the area that was going to shut off our power if we didn't pay up,” said Manager Thomas Sousa.

The man on the other line said the liquor store owed $1,400 in outstanding bills. Sousa knew something was up. He's been a National Grid customer for 40 years, and always pays on time. Sousa hung up and did his homework. That's when he learned it was a scam.

“We had a lot of things going on. We're short staffed. And like I said, it's very easy to get taken,” said Sousa.

According to Bristol police two other people in town have already fallen for it. They turned over more than $1,500 before realizing they were being tricked.

ABC6 News called the number that the scammers had left with some of the businesses. The person on the other end of the line answers as National Grid. As soon as we identified ourselves as members of the media the line went dead.

Half a dozen other East Bay businesses say they too received phone calls from the scammers, and are thankful they didn't give in.

“It was just the manner that they were pushing their information at us. The persistence. It just didn't seem very professional,” said Rob Browne who owns a bagel shop on Hope St.

The phone calls are made from pre-paid phones with out of state phone numbers.

National Grid is aware of the scam and say they never demand payment over the phone.

(C) WLNE-TV 2013