Alleged ‘grandparent scammers’ arrested in Warwick

Posted 3/14/24

A pair of alleged “grandparent scammers” have been arrested by Warwick Police.

According to Warwick Police Detective Capt. John McAniff, local victims nearly taken for more than …

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Alleged ‘grandparent scammers’ arrested in Warwick


A pair of alleged “grandparent scammers” have been arrested by Warwick Police.

According to Warwick Police Detective Capt. John McAniff, local victims were nearly taken for more than $50,000 before investigators stepped in.

According to Warwick Police, on March 7, a victim reported to the department they were the victims of a scam now commonly known as a “grandparent scam.”

“Officer Chretien identified this scam as ongoing and brought Detectives in to assist,” according to WPD. “A plan was formulated to attempt a controlled delivery to the suspect on March 8 … at the victim’s residence.”

Capt. McAniff explained that the victims received a phone call from someone posing as an attorney. The fake attorney tells the victim that their grandson or daughter has been involved in a car crash and that they needed money for bail. The alleged scammers then send a courier out to the victims’ home to pick up the money.

“Hey look, your grandson or daughter’s been involved in an accident,” Capt. McAniff said, giving an example of how this scam sometimes works. “They hit another car and they need money for bail. If you can raise the money, we’ll come pick it up.”

According to Capt. McAniff, the fake lawyer first told the victims to get $18,000 ready. Then, following the pick-up of those funds, the fake lawyer called back with a more outrageous story.

“Then courier calls back and says, ‘Unfortunately the car had a pregnant female inside and she miscarried,’” Capt. McAniff said. “(They) asked for $50,000 more. (The victims) said they could only come up with $40,000, and they said, ‘That’s fine.’”

“Then we came up with a sting,” said Capt. McAniff. In the past, according to Capt. McAniff, prospective victims have been told to go out and purchase gift cards. “Maybe that played itself out,” he said earlier this week. Now the scammers mostly seek cash.

On the morning of March 8, “members of the Warwick Police Department’s Night Detectives, Special Operations Group, Financial Crimes, and Criminal Investigations units began working with the victims to ensure the suspect was still planning on receiving the victim’s money,” according to police.

Around 2 p.m., Warwick Police Detectives inside the home spotted “a subject walking up to the residence matching the description of a suspect from a similar scam that had just been reported in Coventry.”

Following the delivery, Warwick Police “Detectives Arico and Sarkisian took the subject into custody after a brief foot pursuit,” according to police. “Detectives conducting surveillance apprehended the suspected getaway driver. Both suspects were taken into custody for Obtaining Property Under False Pretenses … and Conspiracy-Felony.”

Police identified the suspects as Jason Rhodes, 34, of Flushing, New York (the alleged suspect at the residence) and Robert Munoz, 29, of Miami, Florida (the alleged getaway driver).

Capt. McAniff noted that the fake attorney on the phone used the name of “Trump’s lawyer … Michael Cohen.”

“As part of the investigation, a court-authorized search warrant for a Warwick hotel room registered in Munoz’s name was executed,” according to Warwick Police. “Detectives seized evidence connecting the suspects to other ‘grandparent scams’ as well as a large sum of US currency. This remains an active investigation. Detectives are looking at other evidence to try to locate other victims, as this scam is being reported throughout Rhode Island.”

Warwick Police urge anyone who believes they may have been the victim “of this or a similar scam to contact their respective police department.”

Grandparents, especially, should be on the alert for possible scams.

“As law enforcement, if we’re ever looking for someone to post bail, we’ll never send a courier,” Capt. McAniff warned city residents. “We’ll ask people to come here with the bail. We won’t send people to random people’s houses to pick up cash. That should be a red flag.”

The scam has been reported in communities throughout the region.

“It’s pretty much happening all over New England right now,” Capt. McAniff said. “Obviously.”

“This is OUTSTANDING work by the WPD!” Warwick Mayor Frank Picozzi posted on his social media accounts. “Criminals that scam money from senior citizens are the lowest of the low. We as a city are so proud of our police department!”

grandparents, scam


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