Sheriff’s detective impersonator scams resident

GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities in Kent County are warning residents of a scam involving a law enforcement impersonator.

The victim told police she was contacted by phone on Wednesday by a female stating she was trying to collect a debt. The victim was told that if she failed to pay immediately, a warrant would be issued for her arrest.

A short time later, a man arrived at the victim’s home in the 9800 block of East Paris Avenue SE in Gaines Township.

“He identified himself verbally as a detective from the Kent County Sheriff’s Office,” Capt. Kevin Kelley — who actually is with the sheriff’s office — said. “He told the victim that she needed to go to a department store purchase a prepaid credit card for a certain amount of money.”

After the man threatened to arrest her, the victim went to a local retail store, bought a card and returned home, where the man was still waiting. The victim gave the man the numbers on the back of the card and he left.

The victim did not request police identification and took the suspect at his word that he was a detective, according to a press release from the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

The suspect identified himself by the first name of “Mark” and was wearing a black business suit. He had greying sideburns and a southern accent and last seen driving a black Dodge Charger-style vehicle with no markings that could have been mistaken for an unmarked cruiser. No police badge or gun was seen.

There have not been any arrests in the case.

If you are contacted by someone identifying themselves as law enforcement, you are encouraged to ask for police identification or credentials. Kelley said the victim did not do that.

“The message we need to get out to the public is that if anyone claims to be associated with law enforcement, the Kent County Sheriff’s Department in particular, that detective will always identify themselves, they will always carry several pieces of identification,” Kelley said.

The sheriff’s department also said it would never ask anyone to obtain a prepaid credit card to pay for fines.

“We are not in the business of debt collection and that should be a flag to anyone that is trying to operate this scam or is a victim of this scam,” Kelley said.

For questions about the Kent County Sheriff’s Department or to verify a call, please contact Dispatch at 616.632.6100 ext. 1.

24 Hour News 8’s Steve Kelso contributed to this report.

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