Common Scams

If you think you have been a victim of one of these or any other scam, contact our Consumer Protection team at 401-274-4400 or


“Grandparent” Scam

  • Targets older adults
  • Usually starts with a phone call – a con artist poses as a grandchild or a person calling on behalf of a relative in trouble and in urgent need of money.
  • In every case, the caller claims that an emergency has occurred and requests that money be sent immediately via wire transfer.
  • Sometimes the caller claims to be a lawyer or a close friend of the child, whose alleged problems range from being in prison in a foreign country, to being in a car accident, missing a wallet, losing an airline ticket, or having a credit card stolen while traveling.  

Rhode Island Energy Scam

  • Individuals claiming to be from Rhode Island Energy contact a business owner or a residential customer to demand immediate payment or else the company will shut off the power supply.
  • In some instances, the scammers have been able to provide the customers with detailed information such as last payment date and amount.
  • REMEMBER: While Rhode Island Energy may contact customers with past due balances by phone to offer payment options, the company NEVER demands direct payment immediately over the telephone.

"Windows Support" Scam

  • You receive an unsolicited phone call from individual posing as Microsoft Windows tech support letting you know your computer has "corrupt" files and needs to be fixed.
  • Caller then walks through a series of computer commands, allegedly fixing the issue, but actually installing malware or other software that allows the scam artist to remotely control your computer.

IRS Phone Scam

  • Individuals claiming to represent the IRS contact taxpayers via telephone, telling you that you owe back taxes and demanding that you pay the money immediately with a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer.
  • Caller often threatens victims with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver's license.

"Notice of Appearance in Court" Scam

  • You receive emails claiming that you are ordered to appear in court.
  • The fraudulent email with the subject line "Notice of Appearance in Court" is purportedly sent from a "court clerk" with a fictitious name instructing recipients to appear for "illegal software usage."
  • The emails may also include the domain name of a legitimate law firm and contain an attachment, purportedly a copy of the court notice, which may link to a computer virus.
  • The emails request that you bring an "identity document" on the specified court date.

International Lottery or Sweepstakes Scams

  • Foreign lottery scam e-mails typically notify you that you’ve have won a large sum of money and that, in order to collect it, you must wire a processing fee using Western Union or Money Gram.
  • The sender will often ask for money more than once to process the bogus winnings.

Bogus Check/Mystery Shopper Scams

  • Typically, a scam artist will send an unsolicited letter or email offering you an opportunity to earn money while acting as a “secret” or “mystery” shopper.
  • The scammers will then send you a legitimate-looking check with instructions for you to deposit the check at your bank, then withdraw and send back a portion to them either through a prepaid debit card or a wire transfer.
  • The check, however, is bogus. You are left responsible for any bank fees associated with the bounced check and out the money you wired to the scam artist.