Two suspects were arrested Thursday after allegedly attempting to defraud at least two different Muskegon County seniors this week. The unnamed suspects are from West Palm Beach, Fla. and the county sheriff’s office is unsure if there are other suspects participating in such activities. The Safe Seniors Task Force, overseen by AgeWell Services and the county prosecutor’s office, also aided in the investigation.
The suspects were apprehended with aid from a Cedar Creek Township citizen who had been contacted in the alleged fraud. Already having received a complaint from a Blue Lake Township woman, the county’s Safe Seniors Task Force noted the similarity of the two complaints and arranged a sting with the Cedar Creek citizen to lure the suspects to their arrest. A third citizen in Sullivan Township also reported being contacted but was not taken in by the alleged scam; investigation had not yet confirmed a link to the other two complaints but police are optimistic phone records will show the three each had the same origin.
The three citizens each reported similar playbooks being used in the alleged scam. A man called the Blue Lake Twp. complainant Monday identifying himself as her grandson and claiming that he had been in a car crash, was in jail and required a $9,000 bond to be released. Believing the caller was her grandson, the woman retrieved the money and met a second person, claiming to be her grandson’s attorney, at her house.
The woman received a second call Tuesday from another person claiming to be the judge in her grandson’s case. The caller said the other person in the supposed car crash with her grandson had died and that the insurance company was demanding $25,000 to settle the matter out of court. After negotiating a smaller payout of $18,000, the woman again retrieved the money and shipped it to an address in Atlanta per her instructions. It was after mailing that money that the woman became suspicious and contacted the sheriff’s office. The investigating officer told the woman to reach out to UPS and have the shipment stopped and the money returned to her, which she did.
When a Cedar Creek Twp. citizen contacted police with a similar story, the two parties collaborated on the sting operation to apprehend the suspects.
Sheriff Michael Poulin requested if there are any other residents of Muskegon County who fell victim to this fraud, they should contact Detective Darric Roesler with the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office at 231-724-7135 or AgeWell Services at: safeseniors.info.