Detroit/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on May 28, 2024
Michigan Woman, 72, Defrauded of $40,000 by Fake FTC Agents, Two Illinois Men Charged in Elder ScamSource: Ionia Co. Sheriff's Office

An elderly Michigan woman was swindled out of more than $40,000 by scammers impersonating Federal Trade Commission (FTC) agents, police said last week. The 72-year-old from Easton Township believed she was safeguarding her funds from identity theft after her tablet device was remotely locked on May 8, displaying a number to call for "Technical Support," which led her down a costly path of deception.

According to the FOX 17 report, the scammers convinced the woman that her financial accounts had been compromised and urged her to withdraw her bank funds for "safe keeping" to be picked up by so-called federal agents. Duped into compliance, she handed over the cash on May 9. The incident came to light after a relative suspected foul play and reported to the authorities.

The Ionia County Sheriff's Office staged an undercover operation in response to the scammers' brazen return attempt for more cash. Two men from Illinois were arrested when they arrived to collect what they thought would be an additional box of money. Both Jainav Sanjaykumar Patel, 25, and Alonzo Lee Waheed Jr., 27, have been charged with conspiracy to commit false pretenses, with bonds set at $25,000 each, WZZM 13 reports.

In a revealing confession, one of the men admitted being part of a larger fraud ring, indicating a wider network of deception that officials are still investigating. Officials said an overseas mastermind using anonymity apps and call spoofing to mimic the FTC was behind the phone calls to the victim. Locating the stolen money remains challenging since it was taken in cash, although officers found evidence on the suspects' phones linking them to the crime.

"These scam artists are really good, and even provided her with the type and color of car that was to arrive at her home to pick up that money to make things seem more official," the Ionia County Sheriff's Office stated in a release reported by WOODTV.

The authorities are continuing their efforts to recover the lost funds and unravel the extent of the fraud ring's operations. They urge anyone who believes they may be a victim of a similar scam to report it to local law enforcement, reminding the public that no government agency will ever request large sums of cash for safekeeping.