AP NEWS

Greenwich police warn of phone scam

February 20, 2019

Greenwich police have a new post up warning people about phone scams — this one from bogus utility companies.

The warning, posted on Facebook this morning, reads: “It’s an old scheme. Someone calls and pretends to be from your local utility. You are informed you are behind on your bill and if you don’t pay immediately, service will be cut off. If you fall for the ruse you immediately pull out your credit card and give them the billing information. Worse still, you might give them a way to access your bank account.”

Utilities companies, police remind residents, do not usually call someone who is overdue in payment.

“Someone who demands immediate payment over the phone is probably scamming you,” they warn.

Scams like the one described above are very common. Police departments in the region frequently release reports of complaints about scammers.

Last week, one emerged out of Stamford. A North Stamford grandfather was out $7,000 after being taken in by the “Grandfather Scam.”

Stamford Sgt. Robert Shawinsky said the grandparent filed a compliant with police Feb. 13 after a he was called earlier in the week by a man purporting to be a Florida attorney named John Rodriguez. The “attorney” told the city man that his grandson had just hit a pedestrian while driving drunk in Florida. He said he needed $15,0000 to keep the man’s grandson out of jail. The Stamford man told police that he began negotiating with the attorney and was able to get the price down to $7,000. He then wired the money to an account and thought the episode was behind him.

But the man could not reach the attorney after wiring the money and became suspicious. Shawinsky said the man called his son, who told him that his grandson was not in Florida and was not involved in an accident.

Earlier in the month, two Bronx men were arrested in Stamford as part of a similar scam. They allegedly tried to swindle a Virginia grandparent out of thousands of dollars.

Police said they had contacted a Fraquier County, Virginia man and claimed that man’s grandson was in jail and needed $7,500. The Virginia man sent the money but was told $15,000 more was needed to get the grandson out of jail.

The man was told to send the money to an address on Avery Street in Stamford. Stamford police were told about the scam and picked up the two men - Eduardo Santos-Cruz, 25, and Hector Rivera, 24 - while they allegedly were waiting for what they thought was an envelope full of cash. Police charged them with conspiracy to commit second-degree larceny.