Updated: May 07, 2020 12:37 AM
Created: May 06, 2020 10:57 PM
NORTH GREENBUSH - Earlier this week a North Greenbush resident reported being scammed out of thousands of dollars in a driveway paving scheme. National Grid is also warning customers about scammers who are threatening to turn off power if a payment isn't made immediately.
National Grid addressed the scam reports in this statement released Tuesday:
“National Grid is warning customers to beware of a new phone scam where imposters are demanding immediate bill payment and threatening service disconnection. This latest scam, which is targeting customers already facing hardships due to COVID-19, involves callers who pretend to be National Grid representatives. They tell customers that unless payment is made within 30 minutes, their power will be shut off. The customer is then directed to call “the direct billing department to make a payment and avoid power disconnection.
The scammers use sophisticated phone systems that display National Grid on the customer’s caller ID. Additionally, the phone number customers are instructed to call closely resembles the company’s recorded messaging and phone prompt directions. These elements make it difficult to differentiate an actual National Grid call from an imposter’s call. When in doubt, customers should hang up and call the National Grid customer service number on their bill.
National Grid reminds customers that on March 13, the company temporarily suspended collections-related activities, including service disconnections, to lessen any financial hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company continues to encourage customers struggling to pay their bills to take advantage of bill payment options or to call to speak with one of our Consumer Advocates.”
Police are also seeing schemes unrelated to the pandemic. North Greenbush Police Chief David Keevern said on Tuesday a resident reported a paving scam. He said the victim paid $5,500 for job that should’ve only cost $1,000.
Keevern said the scammers claimed to be with a company called R&A Paving. The scam was reported in Wynantskill in the area of Palo Lombardi's restaurant, but Keevern believes the culprits have carried out the same scam in other places.
"We'll see if we have more in town,” he said. “We definitely know by these guys, based on all the information we have, the descriptors, the similarities of everything really matches up with a number of other places throughout the Capital Region."
Normally these cases would be handled in small claims court, but Keevern said this instance is a little different.
"It was obvious that there was never an attempt to complete the work as agreed to,” Keevern said. “So at this point we will push it as a grand larceny."
Keevern said it's also possible the perpetrators could face scheme to defraud charges. They'll need to prove a similar scheme occurred or was at least attempted on a separate occasion. Keevern said with continued the help from the public that shouldn't be difficult to do.
He said though the schemes are quite different, they similar in the fact that they both attempt to force potential victims into making hasty decisions. Taking your time to investigate a claim bit more can help you avoid becoming a victim.
"Everybody's always looking for the deal and unfortunately it's often not real,” Keevern said.
It's believed the paving scam has been going on for at least a week. If you believe you have any information that could help the investigation you're asked to contact North Greenbush police at 518- 283-5323.
National Grid has COVID-19 safety tips listed on their website. They also gave these tips for avoiding scams:
• National Grid representatives will know your account number; never offer that information to a caller.
• Ask the caller to provide the last five digits of your National Grid account number.
• National Grid will not contact customers demanding immediate payment by wire transfer, Green Dot Money-Pak or any other pre-paid card service.
If you believe you've been scammed by someone impersonating a National Grid representative, contact a consumer advocate.
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