Not a drug lab, but a black money scam found in Providence hotel room

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Police released more information Friday morning about a suspicious scene found in the Providence Hilton Garden Inn. What was originally thought to be drug lab is now being labeled as a black money scam by officials.

The scam involved making victims think they’re making fast cash, Providence Police Maj. David Lapatin explained in a media briefing Friday.

Lapatin said the suspects befriend a stranger in a restaurant or a bar and begin talking about money. The suspects then claim, according to Lapatin, they are from another country, have dyed American cash black to get it across the border, and now need money to clean the black stacks of paper. The victim is then offered a cut of the cash for helping to buy the chemicals necessary to clean the money. To prove their point, a real $100 bill is dyed black and cleaned.

A Providence man nearly lost thousands of dollars, Lapatin said, but a chemical reaction went wrong as the crime progressed, causing a chemical smell in the Hilton Garden Inn last Tuesday. That’s when the building was evacuated.

Police were initially called to the hotel room because smoke was seen coming out from under the door. Lapatin said it was steamed ammonia.suspecthiltoninn

Initial investigators found towels, blue dye, and a hazmat suit in the hotel room.

Providence police say they are looking for the two suspects seen in a surveillance picture. The suspects are described as two African American males.

According to Lapatin, the men claim to be from West Africa and to have brought a lot of cash over with them.

The Secret Service, FBI and DEA are all investigating.

Police are still looking for the suspects.