Scammers Upping The Ante In Mid-Michigan

By: Liam Martin Email
By: Liam Martin Email

ST. JOHNS -- A DeWitt man lost nearly all his life savings in a scam.

"It wasn't spam, so I figured it was legal," he said of the original e-mail he received in June. "So I contacted this lady and asked about the winnings."

In that e-mail, the victim, who asked News 10 not to identify him, was told he'd won the lottery in the UK. When he asked if it was a scam, they sent him a series of documents (including the lottery certficate and identification of an FBI agent who was supposedly verifying the transaction), ostensibly proving they were legitimate.

"And then later on, she started asking for money to clear the check, things like this," he said.

Then they asked for more money to pay fees and taxes, even a plane ticket to send someone to deliver his winnings. The total damage by the end of it? Some $30,000.

Det. Sgt. Fritz Sandberg with the Clinton County Sheriffs OIffice says these scams are becoming more common as they become more sophisticated -- he received 11 cases in just the past few months.

"Usually, it's in the thousands -- between $2,000 and $4,000, that's the norm we're seeing," Sandberg said Wednesday.

One of the more common scams, along with lottery winnings, is a simple phone call to an elderly woman. The scammer will tell her he's her grandson, he's in jail and needs money.

"Your gut reaction is to do anything you can do to help," Sandberg said.

And of late, the scam-artists are becoming more aggressive -- threatening victims if they don't comply.

"It's a threat that they know where they live and they would come and assault them," he said. "That's notched up a bit."


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