You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Deputies warn against over-the-phone money wiring scams

By Kyle Feldscher

Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office deputies are warning area residents to be on the lookout for a scam asking people to wire money via Western Union.

According to a crime alert sent out Thursday afternoon, at least one person has called multiple people and told them various stories on why they need money wired to them.

Deputies are urging people who do get these phone calls to get as much information as possible, including a phone number and then call police.

Police have been well aware of these types of scams for a long time, and they are reported frequently. According to the Saline Police Department, between three and four scams involving Western Union are reported every week and twice that number go unreported.

Anyone seeking more information on these scams is encouraged to call the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office at 734-971-8400.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

These scams are prevalent on craigslist too. I listed some electronics a couple of months ago and I got at least 10 people telling me that they not only wanted me to ship my stuff out to some European country, but we needed to go through western union. I can see through all of this scams from a mile away, but I would imagine they will eventually get some sucker.


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.

As Mohawk pointed out, it is very important to remember that once you wire money to someone, the wire transfer cannot be reversed. You also have an insanely short window of time to stop the transfer at the bank before it occurs. Many of these scammers can generate somewhat believable stories based on scraps of personal information that they've stolen from insecure websites or gotten from public records. If someone calls you asking for money and claims to know you, ask them questions that only they would know the correct answer to. Ask them to tell you a close relative's middle name, the hospital in which they were born, their mother's maiden name, where they went to college, where they vacationed in childhood, etc. - information that isn't publicly available. Better yet, do what Mohawk's father did and contact the person the scammer claims to be, or contact the police agency the scammer claims to be held by to verify the scammer's story. Just don't send any money.


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

I love it. I must be on the registered old timers list as I have had at least three of these scam calls in 10 days. The first was the most fun I've had for sometime. They started at 1:30 pm asking me to go to Western Union & wire the delivery charges to a Texas name / account ($286.83); so they could deliver my winnings from a Lottery I never heard of. Since I had some light computer work to do at the same time they started this scam I kept it going till 7pm the same night. I just finally told them they tried their scam i thought it was fair I tried mine. needless to say they were not happy. Twice more a similar attempt was made varing the story a bit. This time all I had to do was give them my ABA number from my checking account no cost to me. Admittly I laugh out loud thereby ending my fun with these idiots. Very difficult to impossible for the police to do much about these calls especially many are from overseas. Take up as much of their time as possible without giving them any more info then they have. I'll bet they can't wait for me to get older -I'm well past 70+


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

After reading the comments after my first one I now see how this could happen. Maybe if the article had this type of information it would be helpful to others. Just a suggestion.

dading dont delete me bro

Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

"Deputies are urging people who do get these phone calls to get as much information as possible, including a phone number and then call police." are deputies going to go to zimbabwe to arrest suspect scammers? no

Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

Received such a call on Thursday from young man pretending to be my grandson. He said he had a broken nose, which would have caused his voice to sound different. The story he used was incredibly detailed - went to party, was designated driver, rear-ended a car and was picked up for DUI and an attorney got that dismissed, but he was in a holding cell waiting for $2300 in damages to be paid to the other driver. There were a whole lot of other details about the incident. I told him I couldn't help and he hung up immediately, If I'd noticed the caller id said "unavailable" I wouldn't have answered the phone at all. These people are pretty good at what they do. Be very careful.

Dog Guy

Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

A caller self-identifying as CJI Research reportedly is attempting to steal peoples homes.


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

OK so I have to comment because my elderly parents actually fell for this scam. The scammers are very persuasive. They called my mother and a man claiming to be me was crying, saying he was in jail in Canada for being caught with drugs, and had cell phones confiscated. He claimed to need $3000 to pay for a lawyer and gave a Western Union account. My mother freaked out and did it. They then called back and asked for $10,000 more, then my father arrived and went to the local police, who told them to call me. I was at work and the scam ended. Once the money is wired, it is gone. They target houses that have had the same landline parents had the same number for 33 think you would never fall for something like this, but it happens when you panic and think your family is in danger!


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

I don't answer the phone for just this reason.


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

I'm a little confused here. Are these people strangers who are calling asking for money, and on what pretense? Maybe for a charity? I know I get various charities, some legit, calling but not send the money via Western Union. If this isn't someone you know asking for money for some trouble they're in then why would you send it?