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  • Schuette: Flint Residents Should Be Aware Of Potential Water Crisis Scams


    Schuette’s Consumer Protection Division released a consumer alert to help Flint residents protect themselves, their families and neighbors by being aware of common scams attempted during crisis situations. The consumer alert offers tips on avoiding scam artists and criminals who may attempt to exploit emergency situations like the one in Flint.

    "The outpouring of support and volunteerism in Flint is a reassuring sign of the warmth and compassion Michiganders have for one another, especially during a crisis, and I strongly encourage those in need to seek help,” said Schuette.  “But, even in these times of generosity and need, we must be aware of the common scams that could further hurt Flint families and those attempting to assist them.  That can be done with a few simple steps before taking action.”

    Flint water tower

     



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Schuette: Lapeer Man gets Life in Prison for 2011 Murder of Girlfriend

February 5, 2016

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that Kenneth Grondin, 23, of Lapeer, was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for the 2011 murder of his girlfriend Andrea Eilber, 20, of Otisville.

“Today’s sentencing brings an end to over four years of waiting in limbo for the Eilber family,” said Schuette. “In cases like this it is always our mission to ensure the family of a victim sees justice and today that was finally achieved.”

Case Background

Andrea Eilber was found dead on November 16, 2011 in the basement of her aunt and uncle’s home. Grondin, who was her boyfriend at the time, was the only other person with a key to the house, and there was no forced entry. He was also the only one who knew of her whereabouts at the time and the only person who did not participate in any searches to determine her whereabouts.  Grondin also made incriminating statements to the investigating officers placing himself at the crime scene and admitting to stealing items from the location, but denied killing Eilber. Eilber’s blood was also found with the clothes that Grondin was wearing the night of the homicide.

The Attorney General’s office took the case in October 2013 due to a voluntary disqualification by the newly appointed Lapeer County Prosecutor.

Grondin was convicted of First Degree Felony Murder on Oct. 23, 2015 after a three week-long trial before Judge Nick Holowka.

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Schuette Warns FlintWater.com of Potential Charitable Solicitation Violations

LANSING – As a follow up to this week’s consumer alert, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette issued a warning to the website FlintWater.com and its owner Daniel Price, of Waterford, due to potential charitable solicitation violations. The warning addressed the website’s unauthorized use of the logos of established charities and organizations. Schuette also said the website must account for all funds raised in the names of these charities.

“I would like to thank Senator Jim Ananich of Flint and the United Way for alerting me and making it possible for my office to take quick action,” said Schuette.

The website displayed the logos of the United Way, Pure Michigan, Flint Water Response Team and the American Red Cross without permission from the organizations or even notifying them of use. As of this time, the logos have been taken down. But, Schuette said this is an example of what he warned consumers about earlier in the week in regarding online contributions being solely used for donors intended purposes.

While he strongly encourages financial contributions and volunteerism, including many helpful uses of crowdfunding and websites, to assist Flint residents, it is important to be sure that funds reach well establish organizations that have the ability to truly help. Donors shouldn’t have to wonder if the website they are contributing truly represents the charitable names they know and trust.

The Michigan Solicitations Act prohibits representing or implying sponsorship as well as the use of a charity’s logo without permission from the charity. Violations of this law are subject to fines of up to $10,000 per violation.

“My priority is to protect Flint residents, especially while they are in a vulnerable situation through no fault of their own,” said Schuette.

Charitable Giving Scams

To help ensure the most of your charitable contribution is used to help Flint residents, take a minute to review the following steps:

  • Be cautious of requests for donations by unfamiliar organizations or people.
  • Beware of unsolicited phone calls, and text and email appeals on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Crowdfunding and other types of internet giving can be tools of tremendous good, but as with any type of giving it can be abused, so it's important to proceed with caution when donating online. A Consumer alert with additional information and advice on crowdfunding.
  • Continue to reach out and help Flint residents but be sure to choose established charitable organizations with a history of helping those in need. Search the Michigan charitable giving database.

Door-to-Door Sales and Repair Scams

While not wanting to interfere with legitimate services or visits from governmental entities to your home or business, Schuette noted that another common scam is door-to-door sales of services such as home or business repair, or scammers imitating government workers, such as inspection services seeking to gain entrance to your home or business. For example, scam artists could approach a home owner with promises of repairing plumbing or restoring clean water service to a home. To avoid falling victim to con artists, make sure to take following precautions:

  • Beware of door-to-door solicitors. Be cautious when someone appears at your door without a previous connection to you or without you having contacted the business in question beforehand.
  • Don’t make any rushed decisions. Do your homework and check out any contractor before you pay them anything or sign any contracts. Do not feel pressured into signing any documents at your door. A legitimate business will give you time to consider a proposal.
  • Ask to see the ID of anyone who wants to enter your home or business. It is completely appropriate to check them out by calling the governmental authority or the company they claim to represent.
  • Do not let anyone remove your water meter, and do not pay anyone for promising “alternative” water services involving your home plumbing. Under the Flint City Code of Ordinances, unauthorized parties who tamper with city water system equipment may be guilty of a misdemeanor.  
  • Check the company’s complaint history by calling the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division (toll free) at 1-877-765-8388.

A consumer alert with additional information and advice on choosing a building contractor or company for home remodeling.

To File a Complaint 

Complaints against a licensed builder may be filed with the Michigan Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Commercial Services, Enforcement Division. Complaint filing instructions and complaint form.  

Those who suspect fraud are also encouraged to report it to the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721.

Other complaints may be filed with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division:

Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30213 
Lansing, MI 48909
517-373-1140
Toll free: 877-765-8388
www.michigan.gov/ag online complaint form

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AG Schuette Charges Former Survivor Contestant with Possession of Child Pornography and Racketeering

LANSINGMichigan Attorney General today charged Michael Skupin, 54, of Oakland County, with six counts of possession of child sexually abusive materials five counts of larceny by conversion, and one count of Racketeering- Conducting a Criminal Enterprise for his role in allegedly running and promoting a Ponzi scheme.

“Not only did this man rob people of their hard earned savings with his financial scams but he victimized innocent children every time he looked at a piece of child pornography,” said Schuette. “This man seems to have no concept or caring for right and wrong and will be prosecuted under the full extent of the law for these horrific crimes.”

Skupin was arraigned Friday, February 5, 2016 in 52-2 District Court in Clarkston before Magistrate Daniel Schuman on the following twelve felony charges:

  • Six counts of Possession of Child Sexual Abusive Materials, a 4 year felony.

  • Five counts of Larceny by Conversion, a 5 year felony; and,

  • 1 count of Racketeering- Conducting a Criminal Enterprise, a 20 year felony.

Bond was set at $350,000. If bond is met, Skupin must wear a GPS tether, cannot have any unsupervised visits with children or leave the state. Skupin will next appear in court for a pre-exam conference on Friday, February 19, 2016 at 9 am.

Case Background

An investigation began into Skupin after victims from his alleged Ponzi scheme contacted a local news reporter. It is alleged that Michael Skupin recruited investors and friends to take part in his “gifting scheme” called Pay It Forward. Victims allegedly made $10,000 cash investments in the scheme. Their money would then cycle through a chart in which participants were eventually paid out of other new investors’ money.  The scheme was discovered when eventually there were no new investors signing and most people in the scheme lost all of their money.

Skupin’s laptop was searched in conjunction with the Ponzi scheme investigation. During the search, investigators discovered images of underage children in sexual situations. The images are alleged to belong to Skupin.          

A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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Schuette: Former Aramark Supervisor Gets Up to 5 Years in Assault-for-Hire Plot

February 4, 2016

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General today announced the sentencing of Michael Robert Young, 27, of Kincheloe, to 24 months to 5 years in prison after he asked an inmate at the prison where he worked to orchestrate the assault of another inmate. The former Aramark supervisor at Kinross Correctional Facility in Chippewa County, was found guilty in December of Solicitation to Commit Assault with Intent to Cause Great Bodily Harm.

Young was sentenced by Judge James P. Lambros in the 50th Circuit Court in Chippewa County.

 “Mr. Young chose to go around our justice system and take the law into his own hands,” said Schuette. “His actions mean he will have to deal with the very system he tried to avoid.”   

Case Background

In 2014, an inmate at the Kinross Correctional Facility, where Young was employed as an Aramark Supervisor, reported to the Michigan Department of Corrections that he was solicited by Young to find an inmate to assault another inmate incarcerated at a different correctional facility. At the joint request of the Chippewa County Prosecutor’s office and the Michigan State Police, the Department of Attorney General’s Criminal Division conducted an extensive investigation into the allegations with collaboration from MSP and MDOC.

The investigation found that Young told the inmate the target was serving a sentence for the murder of one of Young’s relatives and provided the inmate with details including the name, prisoner number, and location of the target inmate. Young offered tobacco products to the inmate in return for recruiting an inmate at the other facility to carry out the proposed assault. 

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Schuette: Flint Residents Should Be Aware Of Potential Water Crisis Scams

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today offered praise and thanks for the overwhelming outpouring of assistance offered to Flint residents as they deal with the hardships caused by the tragic and unthinkable contamination of their drinking water, but noted that crises like these can also create opportunities for scam artists targeting families, senior citizens and small businesses.

As a result, Schuette’s Consumer Protection Division released a consumer alert to help Flint residents protect themselves, their families and neighbors by being aware of common scams attempted during crisis situations. The consumer alert offers tips on avoiding scam artists and criminals who may attempt to exploit emergency situations like the one in Flint.

"The outpouring of support and volunteerism in Flint is a reassuring sign of the warmth and compassion Michiganders have for one another, especially during a crisis, and I strongly encourage those in need to seek help,” said Schuette.  “But, even in these times of generosity and need, we must be aware of the common scams that could further hurt Flint families and those attempting to assist them.  That can be done with a few simple steps before taking action.”   

Schuette said two common scams involve charitable giving and home and business repairs.  While Michigan residents and small businesses are always at risk of these scams, this crisis may draw the attention of more scam artists than usual. Schuette cautions home and small business owners to remain on guard and to be thorough in asking questions of any unannounced visitors or salespeople during the continuing water crisis.

Charitable Giving Scams

To help ensure the most of your charitable contribution is used to help Flint residents, take a minute to review the following steps:

Be cautious of requests for donations by unfamiliar organizations or people.

Beware of unsolicited phone calls, and text and email appeals on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Crowdfunding and other types of internet giving can be tools of tremendous good, but as with any type of giving it can be abused, so it's important to proceed with caution when donating online. A Consumer alert with additional information and advice on crowdfunding is available here.

Continue to reach out and help Flint residents but be sure to choose established charitable organizations with a history of helping those in need.  The Michigan charitable giving database can be searched at http://www.ag.state.mi.us/CharitableTrust/

 

Door-to-Door Sales and Repair Scams

While not wanting to interfere with legitimate services or visits from governmental entities to your home or business, Schuette noted that another common scam is door-to-door sales of services such as home or business repair, or scammers imitating government workers, such as inspection services seeking to gain entrance to your home or business. For example, scam artists could approach a home owner with promises of repairing plumbing or restoring clean water service to a home. To avoid falling victim to con artists, make sure to take following precautions:

Beware of door-to-door solicitors. Be cautious when someone appears at your door without a previous connection to you or without you having contacted the business in question beforehand.  

Don’t make any rushed decisions. Do your homework and check out any contractor before you pay them anything or sign any contracts. Do not feel pressured into signing any documents at your door.  A legitimate business will give you time to consider a proposal.

Ask to see the ID of anyone who wants to enter your home or business. It is completely appropriate to check them out by calling the governmental authority or the company they claim to represent.

Do not let anyone remove your water meter, and do not pay anyone for promising “alternative” water services involving your home plumbing.  Under the Flint City Code of Ordinances, unauthorized parties who tamper with city water system equipment may be guilty of a misdemeanor.  

Check the company’s complaint history by calling the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division (toll free) at 1-877-765-8388.

A consumer alert with additional information and advice on choosing a building contractor or company for home remodeling and repair is available here.

To File a Complaint
 

Complaints against a licensed builder may be filed with the Michigan Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Commercial Services, Enforcement Division. Complaint filing instructions and complaint form available at online at: http://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-63294_27723_27777_72411---,00.html

Those who suspect fraud are also encouraged to report it to the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721.

Other complaints may be filed with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division:

Consumer Protection Division

P.O. Box 30213

Lansing, MI 48909

517-373-1140

Toll free: 877-765-8388

www.michigan.gov/ag (online complaint form)

 

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