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Sex offenders targeted in phone scam

Two registered sex offenders residing in Rochester Hills were targeted by perpetrators of a phone scam who posed as sheriff's officials in order to steal hundreds of dollars in fraudulent bond money, authorities said.

Oakland County sheriff's deputies on Wednesday, August 1, spoke with a 60-year-old Rochester Hills man who reported he was the victim of fraud. The man, who is currently a registered sex offender with the state of Michigan, was contacted by phone by a person who claimed to be a sergeant from the sheriff's office. The victim didn't answer the initial call, but the suspect left a voicemail requesting the victim return the call and provided a phone number.

Upon returning the call, the suspect told the victim he was allegedly involved in an incident in Birmingham and that he needed to post a bond of $1,000. The suspect instructed the victim to use Google Play cards to pay the bond, or he would be arrested.

The caller instructed the victim to drive to the store and purchase several Google Play cards, which the victim did and then returned the call and was transferred to an alleged sergeant at the sheriff's office. The man posing as the sergeant told the victim that the cards didn't work and instructed him to purchase more.

The fraudulent sergeant was able to provide the victim with his offender SID number, the FBI number, prison identification number and Michigan Sex Offender Registry Number, all of which are available on the state's Offender Tracking Information System (OTIS) website. The alleged sergeant also had the victim's bank information and other personal information, which isn't publicly available.

The victim's wife contacted a neighbor who is a police officer. He advised the couple that the activity was suspicious and not legitimate. The neighbor police officer met with the victim at the Comerica Bank in Auburn Hills and also spoke with the man posing as the sheriff's sergeant on the phone. When the neighbor identified himself as a police officer, the suspect disconnected the call.

The sheriff's office said the suspect's phone number was similar to a number used by the sheriff's substation in Pontiac, and that the automated voicemail identifies itself as the Oakland County Sherif's Office (OCSO) with law enforcement related prompts. The names provided are also similar to those of current sheriff's personnel, a former Michigan Department of Corrections Parole Agent and a current federal agent. The number has since been disconnected per the sheriff's office detectives.

A second incident involving a registered sex offender occurred on Wednesday, August 3, about 9:14 p.m.

In the second case, a deputy responded to a 59-year-old Rochester Hills man, who is also a registered sex offender with the state. The man said he received a call from a man who identified himself as Sgt. Kopeck with the OCSO, claiming to be investigating a criminal sexual assault case involving the man. Again, the suspect instructed the victim to purchase Google Play cards to post bond over the phone or be arrested. Again, the victim complied, purchasing $500 in cards.

An actual sheriff's deputy responded to the complaint and, while interviewing the victim, answered another call from what was displayed aa a valid Oakland County phone number. The deputy answered the phone pretending to be the victim's brother. The suspect identified himself as Sgt. Newsom from the sheriff's office's warrants division. The suspect demanded more gift cars.

The deputy, while still pretending to be the victim's brother, told the suspect that deputies were arriving at the residence. The suspect then stated, "Detain him!" and the phone was disconnected.

The sheriff's office said the number used in the second call, 248.858.5000, is the sheriff's office's information line and was cloned by the suspects.

The sheriff's office said residents should be reminded that neither law enforcement nor the IRS will call on the phone and demand payments in order not to be arrested.

"If you receive any such phone calls, immediately call your local police department or sheriff's office that patrols your community to report," the sheriff's office said in a statement.

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