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Michigan couple loses life savings through phone scam

“Don’t be fooled by a scam, no matter how real it seems,” said Nessel. "It is much easier to protect yourself from a scam than to recover from one.”
Credit: 13 ON YOUR SIDE

LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan couple recently lost their life savings through a days-long phone scam involving three men posing as government officials.

Attorney General Dana Nessel said on Monday that the scam targeted a physical therapist. The men posed as investigators from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) and the FBI.

The therapist first received a call claiming that her license was in danger of "immediate temporary suspension." She was directed to a UPS store to receive a written notification, which she said was on official LARA letterhead. Her license number was also included.

The man posing as the "chief investigator" from LARA said that her name and license was found associated with 15 banks laundering $2.4 million. She was given the option of spending at least six months in jail without bond or signing a federal bond agreement with the Department of Justice.

She wire transferred money and was provided with an "application" to reinstate her license. Her husband found out after the money had been transferred and then reported the scam to the police. The couple was unable to recover the money.

“This kind of scheme shows the depth and breadth bad actors will go to while robbing well-intentioned people who are fearful of the results should they not comply,” said Nessel. “Do NOT fall for anyone who calls and threatens you unless you provide them with some form of cash – in this case, a hefty wife transfer. Be alert, be skeptical and hang up, no matter how often they reach out to you. And by all means, immediately stop any payments and alert local law enforcement to report them."

Nessel also said that victims should report scams to the Attorney General's Office so the public can be warned.

LARA Director Orlene Hawks said that other State of Michigan licensees encountered fraudulent websites impersonating LARA last fall. Hawks issued information for any licensees experiencing potential scams:

  • Licensees should be cautious of unsolicited requests for any of their personal information. LARA will not contact you directly asking for personal information.
  • Be suspicious of any unexpected emails or links to websites. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.
  • Do not respond to – or open hyperlinks in – emails or text messages about validating your personal data.
  • If there are any hyperlinks, check the URL before clicking. LARA websites will have “michigan.gov” in the URL.
  • If you suspect fraud, report it immediately to your licensing bureau.

“Don’t be fooled by a scam, no matter how real it seems,” said Nessel. “Do your homework and report anything that is even remotely suspicious to the proper authorities. It is much easier to protect yourself from a scam than to recover from one.” 

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