Police warn of scam in Alcona County

HARRISVILLE — The Alcona County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement warning residents of scams that are targeting people via phone, email, and the U.S. Postal Service in an effort to get victims to send money.

According to the statement, some of the scammers are using the names of police agencies or court documents to trick victims into believing they are legitimate.

Sheila Gauthier, a clerk for the sheriff’s office, said it is happening in other counties, too, not just Alcona. She said that, while they get numerous calls about the scams, most people have realized it was a scam before sending any requested money.

The sheriff’s office reported complaints from residents that were contacted via telephone about arrest warrants and were told legal action would be taken if they did not send money. The sheriff’s office stressed that those calls are scams. When people are notified of real arrest warrants, it is done in person.

Some residents have also reported receiving calls from a police agency and being told that a relative has been arrested and needs bail money. They are then told that the family member cannot come to the phone because they are too embarrassed or suicidal.

In addition, people have claimed to have received calls informing them that they have won the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes, and they receive a check in the mail. Then, they are instructed to cash the check and send a portion back to cover fees and taxes. The sheriff’s office asks anyone that receives an unexpected check for a large sum of cash to discuss it with their bank before depositing it to ensure its validity.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stated that, in 2017, one in five people lost money to imposter scams, with a total of $328 million reported being lost. The FTC also reported that Michigan was one of the top states for identity theft.

If you have discovered any scams, they can be reported directly to the FTC.

Kaitlin Ryan can be reached at kryan@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 989-358-5693.