Licensing scam costs Michigan couple’s life savings

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The Attorney General’s office warned the public today of a licensing scam that cost a physical therapist and her family’s entire savings.

The AG’s office described the scam in a press release, saying:

“The scheme – reported to Nessel’s consumer protection team – took place over the course of several days and involved three different men who posed as an investigator from LARA, a chief investigator from LARA, and an FBI agent, respectively.  The men convinced the physical therapist that her license to practice was in danger of “immediate temporary suspension” and directed her to the nearest UPS store to receive notification in writing. According to the woman, the document the men provided her appeared to be on official LARA letterhead and even included her license number.”

The man posing as the “chief investigator” claimed that he was investigating a drug trafficking case, and that she would be stuck in jail for six months unless she signed a “federal bond agreement” and wired money to the scammers.

The woman did not tell her husband about the fraudulent investigation, but once her husband discovered the wire transfer he notified the police, who confirmed the “investigation” was a scam.

“This kind of scheme shows the depth and breadth bad actors will go to while robbing well-intentioned people who are fearful of the results should they not comply,” said Attorney General Dana Nessel in the press release.

“Do NOT fall for anyone who calls and threatens you unless you provide them with some form of cash – in this case, a hefty wife transfer.  Be alert, be skeptical, and hang up, no matter how often they reach out to you.  And by all means, immediately stop any payments and alert local law enforcement to report them.  You may also wish to report this conduct to our office as it helps us understand what scams are circulating so that we can warn the public about them.”

“No one from our office in LARA will ever reach out to you and threaten to suspend your license,” said Regulatory Affairs Director Orlene Hawks 

The State of Michigan has encountered several scams where scammers pose as LARA agents.

Hawks urges licensees to remember the following:

  • Licensees should be cautious of unsolicited requests for any of their personal information. LARA will not contact you directly asking for personal information.
  • Be suspicious of any unexpected emails or links to websites. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.
  • Do not respond to – or open hyperlinks in – emails or text messages about validating your personal data.
  • If there are any hyperlinks, check the url before clicking. LARA websites will have “michigan.gov” in the url.
  • If you suspect fraud, report it immediately to your licensing bureau.

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