By Mary Drier
THUMB AREA — Between scams and crashes, law enforcement departments in the Thumb have been busy over the last few days.
Tuscola County Sheriff Detectives are requesting anyone with information on two breaking and enterings in Tuscola County to contact them. On Jan 20th, a funeral home near Vassar was broken into. TVs, a snow blower and other items were stolen. Around that same time another funeral home in Fairgrove was broken into and items stolen.
Anyone with information on these crimes can contact Det. Scott Jones at (989) 673-8161 ex 2233.
The Tuscola County Sheriff’s Department warns about a scam coming from an 876 Area Code, and that some seniors are being taken in because the Area Code looks a lot like a toll-free number.
According to Sheriff Lee Teschendorf, the number looks like the call is coming from the U.S., but it is a Jamaican area code so if you do not have friends, relatives, or business associates in Jamaica, it is probably a scam.
Scammers are very persistent and in some cases verbally abusive, threatening to harm victims if they do not send money.
Approximately 30,000 calls are made from Jamaica into the United States each day. Victims are congratulated for winning the Jamaican lottery or a new car and then are directed to send a fee of up to $4,000 to process the lottery winnings.
The victims are told that once the fee is received, money will be wired to their bank account and the car will be delivered to their home. Scammers often use Google Earth to identify local landmarks and make the scam more believable.
The Tuscola County Sheriff’s Department warns about a“Moneypak” cards scam that is going on and that a resident “lost a considerable amount of money recently.”
“The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers to be on guard for a rising tide of scams involving Green Dot MoneyPaks, reloadable debit cards that are widely available nationwide at more than 50,000 locations,” said Sheriff Lee Teschendorf. “MoneyPaks can be used for funding PayPal accounts and to pay phone, cable or credit card bills.”
However, the BBB in several states warn that criminals are also using them to fleece consumers.
The BBB and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) have recently noted a “significant increase” in various schemes where fraudsters tried or succeeded in collecting payments via MoneyPak for merchandise, advance fee loans or sweepstakes prizes — all of which turned out to be either fraudulent or nonexistent.
“Both of our agencies are noticing that more and more scammers are moving away from seeking payments via wire transfer and instead asking consumers to give them money via MoneyPaks,” Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB, said in a statement. “We feel this is likely due to the fact this form of payment is quite convenient – for both consumers and scammers — and untraceable.”
To avoid falling for MoneyPak scams, Teschendorf says consumers should: Be wary of websites or Craigslist advertisements linking to websites where customers are specifically asked to pay with a MoneyPak card.
Never give their MoneyPak number to someone they don’t know.
Remember that advance-fee loan offers are illegal and targeted at customers and companies struggling with debt and poor credit.
Remember that if you’re told you have pay to a fee — via MoneyPak or wire transfer — to collect a cash prize or sweepstakes winnings, you’re being scammed.
Avoid offers that don’t accept credit card payments and require you to purchase a MoneyPak and provide the card number via e-mail or by phone.
Beware of websites requesting MoneyPak as a form of payment even if they display the MoneyPak or Green Dot logo. Consumers should check www.moneypak.com for a list of approved MoneyPak partners.
Treat their MoneyPak cards like cash. Unlike credit cards, MoneyPak transactions can never be reversed.
Michigan State Police from the Caro Post assisted the Sanilac County Sheriff’s Department with a single – vehicle injury accident that happened about 5 p.m., Tuesday.
According to the preliminary police report, a 49-year-old Sandusky woman was traveling northbound on N. Sandusky Road in her 1996 Chrysler Town & Country van when she lost control after hitting her brakes causing her to leave the roadway and enter the east ditch and overturn.
The driver along with her 42-year-old passenger, also of Sandusky, were transported to McKenzie Memorial Hospital by Sanilac EMS for non-life threatening injuries.
Deputies and troopers were assisted by Sandusky Fire Department and Sanilac EMS.
At about 3:13 p.m. Tuesday, the Sanilac County Sheriff’s Department responded to a two vehicle personal injury accident on Van Dyke Road (M-53) near Mayville Road in Marlette Township.
According to deputies, a 1996 Ford Thunderbird driven by a 33-year-old Flint woman was traveling northbound on Van Dyke Road when she failed to stop in assured clear distance and collided with a northbound 2013 Volvo semi-truck and trailer driven by a 71-year-old man from Milan, Ohio, which was slowing down to make a right hand turn.
The woman was transported to Marlette Hospital by Marlette EMS for non-life threatening injuries. The Ohio man was treated at the scene by Marlette EMS and was released. Both subjects were wearing seatbelts, and the accident remains under investigation. Deputies were assisted by Marlette EMS, Marlette Police, and Marlette Fire Department.
John Squire, 69, of Caro is charged in Lapeer County with counterfeiting and forgery.
According to preliminary information, Squire allegedly sold fake Morgan Silver Dollars to Genesee Valley Gold and Silver in Lapeer for about $5,000.
Depending on age and condition and other factors, Morgan Silver Dollars can be worth up to half a million dollars or at least $15 each for just the silver content.
Mary Drier is a staff writer for the Tuscola County Advertiser.