LOWELL, Mich. — When 43-year-old Jason Faraj entered Collector’s Korner in Lowell, the smooth-talking antiques aficionado gained the trust of the store owner and left with more than $5,700 in merchandise.
Faraj paid with a check. It bounced 10 days later.
“He is one slick operator,’’ store owner Rodger Ackerson said. “One very, very good liar. One very good manipulator.’’
Police say the incident in Lowell is by no means unique. Faraj faces criminal charges in at least five Michigan counties and several states.
He’s being held in the Kent County Jail on two felony charges linked to the bounced check in Lowell.
“At the end of the day, it is a banking scenario,’’ Faraj told a judge Tuesday in asking that his $50,000 bond be reduced. It didn’t work.
“To be forthright with you, it won’t happen on my watch,’’ 63rd District Court Judge Sara Smolenski told Faraj. His two felony cases have now been moved to Kent County Circuit Court.
If convicted of the most serious charge, Faraj is facing up to five years in prison. That term could be enhanced because of prior convictions.
Meanwhile, Lowell police detective Gordy Lauren is staying in touch with police agencies in Michigan and elsewhere. They also have an interest in Faraj.
“It’s pretty much the same scenario,’’ Lauren said. “By the time the check is written and the person’s gone with the goods, the check bounces. And that’s basically what happened in this case.’’
Faraj, who lists an address in Dearborn Heights, has a criminal record dating back to his teen years. He’s been accused of financial crimes this year in Kent, Lenawee, Livingston, Oakland and Washtenaw counties.
Other states want a crack at him. Police agencies in Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin are interested in Faraj, Lauren said.
“The majority of the states already have warrants,’’ he said. “There are a few that I’ve found that are in the process of getting warrants.’’
Faraj targets businesses that deal in silver and jewelry; losses are believed to top $100,000, Lauren said.
Investigators say Faraj takes his ill-gotten gains to pawn shops. “I believe there’s around 50 pawn shops that he’s been to,’’ Lauren said.
Ackerson’s business on West Main Street is a fixture in Lowell. Shelves and counters are stacked with old stamp albums and coin sets. Ackerson says he naturally trusts customers and thought Faraj was a good risk.
“What made me trust him? I’m the kind of guy who likes to trust people,’’ Ackerson said.
After spending three hours in the store on June 6, Faraj wrote a check for $5,746. It covered sterling silver flatware, watches, watch cases and a 1995-W American silver eagle coin. The check was drawn off an auto repair business in Westland listed under Faraj’s name.
When the bank notified Ackerson that the check had bounced, he got ahold of Faraj.
“And he said he’d be here in four hours. I waited the four hours and he never showed,’’ Ackerson said. “And he said ‘well, I’ll be there next Saturday.' Alright. So next Saturday came and went and he never showed up.’’
That’s when Ackerson went to Lowell police.
“I don’t want him back here,’’ he said. “I want him in a cage where he belongs.’'
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