Canuck phone scam hits Oxford couple

Law enforcement officials from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency are investigating a case with local connections.
According to ICE spokesman Greg Palmore, information at this time is ‘sketchy? concerning a phone scam that originated in Manitoba, Canada and involved an elderly couple in Oxford Township.
The Detroit office of ICE was informed of the scam by Oakland County Sheriff Deputy David Ross, who took the initial report. In that report, Ross wrote that an elderly couple from Worthington Street had received numerous phone calls from a man proclaiming to be, ‘Agent Miller of the U.S. Customs Service in Albany, New York.?
‘Agent Miller? told the Oxfordites they had won two lotteries and he was holding two $50,000 checks for them. The catch: the couple had to pay a ‘duty? on the checks so ‘Agent Miller? could route the money from New York, through Canada and into Michigan. The couple was to ‘wire? Miller ‘several thousand dollars.?
According to Ross? report, when the couple heard of their good fortune, they called their son, who in turn called the sheriff’s department. Deputy Ross called ‘Agent Miller? from the Worthington Street residence and asked to speak with ‘Agent Miller’s? supervisor. Deputy Ross reported he heard ‘Agent Miller? put the phone down and a few moments later the same voice came back on the phone, answering, ‘Agent Miller’s Supervisor.?
Deputy Ross then announced who he was and told ‘Agent Miller’s Supervisor? the scam had been discovered and not to call the Oxford phone number again. That call was then discontinued . . . but, according to Deputy Ross, ‘Agent Miller? was not finished.
He called back and angrily, ‘accused me of posing as a police officer,? reported Ross. Ross added that ‘Agent Miller? said the local home would soon be raided by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations, because posing as a police officer was a federal offense.
After the phone conversation Deputy Ross contacted both the FBI and ICE.
The scam artist’s phone area code was ?204? from Manitoba, Canada. When staff from The Oxford Leader called the number ‘Agent Bremner? answered. In the background other phones were ringing and being answered by other ‘agents.? It sounded very busy, which is how U.S. Customs Service describes these scams.
From their website is the following:
‘A telemarketing operation begins with a ‘boiler room,? which is a rented space with desks, telephones, and trained scam artists who place hundreds of calls daily to people all across the world. They use of a number of different schemes, but each one is designed to steal your money.?
The website further warns folks, ‘You may get a telephone call from someone you don’t know. This person will try to convince you that you’ve won a lottery that you’ve never played, or that you have won some other prize. All you have to do is pay an up front fee for Customs duties or taxes. Don’t be fooled. These lotteries and prizes don’t exist and Customs doesn’t call to collect duties on lotteries.
‘Call 1-800-BE-ALERT if someone poses as a Customs Officer and tries to collect money from you.?
According to an ICE fact sheet, in April of 1998, US and Canadian officials joined forces to fight telemarketing scams. Project COLT employs ICE agents and members of the Royal Mounted Police. Since its inception, Project COLT has seized and returned more than $13 million to U.S. and Canadian victims of telemarkeing fraud.
Canadian-based telemarketing fraud, the fact sheet states, results in the estimated loss of more than $700 million a year.

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