Look out for Imposter Scams
May 18, 2023
LANSING – In her latest scam alert, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel warns residents that they may be targeted by scammers claiming to be representing government entities.
The Department has received reports that a missed jury duty scam is currently being perpetrated in Oakland County. In this scam, fraudsters call unsuspecting residents and tell them that they have failed to appear for jury duty in federal court. The caller threatens the person with arrest if they don't pay a "cash bond," which has reportedly been as high as $5,000.
"The public should remember that delinquent jurors are never contacted by phone to pay fines for missed jury duty," Nessel said. "You would receive a notice by mail with specific instructions on what to do next, not a demand for immediate payment under threats of jail."
So far, two complaints involving the missed jury duty scam have been reported to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office. In both cases, the scammer claimed to be an Oakland County Sheriff's deputy. Though in both instances cash was demanded to keep the call recipient out of jail, neither person paid. Instead, they turned themselves in only to discover that there were no arrest warrants sworn in either case.
Another imposter scam involves letters mailed to residents that appear to be from a state agency. The letters, which indicate that they are a "final demand for payment" related to a tax lien, threaten potential foreclosure unless payment is made.
One such letter sent to a nursing center in Detroit from the "Tax Lien Group Tax Processing Unit" indicated the "State of Michigan may seize [the] property for nonpayment of taxes." The amount listed on the letter was $27,622, but no tax debt was owed to the State. The letter contained an 800 phone number commonly used to perpetrate similar scams.
"Residents should verify any correspondence that demands immediate payment, particularly for debts," Nessel said. "A letter demanding payment should contain specific information about your account. If it doesn't, it's most likely a scam."
The individuals perpetrating these scams may expand the deception to other agencies, such as the FBI, IRS, or some other state or federal government entity. If you are concerned that you are being targeted by a government imposter, you can protect yourself by doing your own internet research. Looking up the phone number for the government agency allows you to call and inquire without relying upon information provided by the scammer.
Residents can also simply do an internet search for the phone number they are being asked to call. This may help determine whether it actually belongs to a government agency or if it is one being used in scams. AG Nessel wants all Michigan residents to be on the alert so they can avoid being scam victims. See Government Imposter Scams alert.
For more information about popular consumer scams, or if you believe you've been a victim, residents can contact the Consumer Protection Team Monday-Friday at 877-765-8388 or complete our online complaint form.