LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Operation homeless is sweeping the nation. Criminals are targeting homeless people, promising them money if they cash counterfeit checks.

One local mother says her son was recently the victim of this scam and is in jail because of it.

The woman told 6 News her son had been staying at a homeless shelter when he was approached about doing some construction work for cash, but once it was time for him to be paid, things took a turn for the worse.

“I feel bad for him, and I feel bad for anybody it’s happening to,” Shannon said.

Shannon doesn’t want her face shown out of caution but she says her son was conned and then threatened after he became the target of scammers.

“So these people are actually coming to the homeless shelters asking people if they want work. And once the job is done, they promise ‘Oh we’ll give you so much money out of this check if you cash this check for us,'” said Shannon.

Shannon says this happened to her 33-year-old son who’s been homeless for more than three years.

She says he was approached by two men while staying at a homeless shelter in Grand Rapids, Mel Trotter Ministries. They offered to pay him and another homeless person if they did construction work in Cadillac.

Her son was arrested for trying to cash a $6,000 check at 5th Third Bank in Suttons Bay. He was promised $900 of it for his labor.

Many homeless people have fallen victim to this scam in cities like Nashville, Green Bay, Los Angeles, and most recently in Providence, Rhode Island.

This past June, four men from Georgia were caught giving counterfeit checks to homeless people in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maine.

It’s happening here in Michigan, too.

The executive director of Haven House in East Lansing says those staying in shelters should always double-check with a case manager.

Shannon wants people to know what happened to her son, so those struggling with homelessness do not fall for this.

“That way, they don’t end up in jail over these people too, because like I said, these people are coming from out of state,” she said.

Shannon’s son is in Leelanau County Jail. He is planning to take his case to trial, saying he did not know the check was fake.
If convicted, she says he faces six months to two years behind bars.