How a Troy man lost $140,000 to a phone scam

Troy PD
Posted at 10:24 AM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 10:27:41-05

(WXYZ) — Troy police say a man was scammed out of $140,000 by someone pretending to represent United States Custom and Border Protection.

According to police, the victim received a phone call on Dec. 22 from a scammer who claimed his name was "Roger Miller" from the U.S. Custom and Border Protection. The scammer allegedly told the victim that there was a warrant for his arrest after his name was found in a package that contained drugs and money enroute to Columbia from Texas.

Police say the victim also had a conversation with another individual claiming his name was "Mark Hamilton" from the Troy Police Department, who told him not to go to the police station.

The victim was reportedly instructed to empty his bank accounts and wire the funds to two fake government accounts. Police say the victim wired $72,707 to a bank account in Hong Kong and about $45,000 to a bank in Thailand. He also bought about $20,000 in gift cards from Target and Best Buy at the instruction of the scammers.

In total, the victim, police say, was scammed out of about $140,000.

The Better Business Bureau offers these tips to prevent yourself from being scammed:

  • Do not answer calls from numbers you do not recognize. If it’s a legitimate contact, they will leave a message. If the message is from a contact who is not familiar or not on your contact list, delete it.
  • Use the blocking feature on your cell phone or contact your phone provider to see if they offer this service for a nominal fee or for free.
  • Be cautious of automated messages asking to “Press 9” to be taken off their call list or “1” to speak to an Operator. Don’t press a button; instead, simply hang up.
  • Be aware that scammers are calling and impersonating legitimate businesses, organizations, and charities. If you need to reach the organization, find the appropriate phone number and call them directly to speak to a representative. Be careful when searching for phone numbers online; it’s better to look for a number on a recent bill, the back of a credit card, or other direct source.