AG

Top Story
  • Schuette Reminds Residents of Ways to File Consumer Complaints

    Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is reminding residents of the consumer complaint process. Complaints may be submitted three ways.

    1. Online by filling out a Online Consumer Complaint/Inquiry

    2. By mail to:

      Consumer Protection Division
      P.O. Box 30213
      Lansing, MI 48909-7713

    3. By fax: 517-241-3771

    Before submitting a complaint, remember to check the Complaint Directory to ensure your complaint is filed correctly as to avoid unnecessary delays.

    For detailed instructions on what to include when filing a complaint visit the Consumer Complaint Directory section of the website.

    If you have any questions, please call the Consumer Protection Division Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM at 517-373-1140 or toll free 877-765-8388.



RECENT NEWS

Press Releases
Schuette: Former Shelby Police Chief Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

April 24, 2017

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that former Village of Shelby Police Chief Robert Wilson has pled guilty to one felony count of Embezzlement $20,000 or more but less than $50,000, and one count of Motor Vehicle-False Certification.

Wilson entered his plea on Friday April 21, 2017 in front of Judge Robert D. Springstead of the 27th Circuit Court, covering Newaygo and Oceana Counties.

Wilson was charged following an investigation into the salvage vehicle inspections he conducted which revealed he was not turning the collected fees over to the Village of Shelby in Oceana County. Sentencing is scheduled for June 5th at 1:30 pm at the 27th Circuit Court.

Case Background

Wilson, who was terminated from his position as Village of Shelby Police Chief as a result of this investigation, performed 699 salvage vehicle inspections between December 2013 and November 2015 without turning the fees over to the Village of Shelby. Per Michigan statute, inspections done by Michigan law enforcement officers on salvage vehicles can cost up to $100.

Wilson did not inform government officials in the Village of Shelby that he was collecting inspection fees.

Michigan Salvage Titles

Salvage titles are issued for a vehicle that has become a "distressed vehicle.” A vehicle with a salvage title cannot be plated or used on public roads until it is recertified by a specially trained police officer and retitled.

###

Schuette: Owners of Orchard Lake Sushi Restaurant Charged with 67 felonies for Tax Embezzlement Scheme

April 21, 2017

LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced he had filed over 100 felony charges against Christina and Dong Hyun Chang, of Orchard Lake, and their business Sushi Samurai, Inc. for embezzling over $100,000 in sales tax paid by their customers and by underreporting their income by over $100,000.

Schuette filed the following charges against both Dong Hyun and Christina Chang and their restaurant Sushi Samurai, Inc. in Oakland County’s 48th District Court:

  • One count of Embezzlement over $100,000, a felony punishable by a maximum term of up to 20 years in the state prison and/or a fine up to $50,000, or 3 times the amount embezzled, whichever is greater;
  • One count of Conspiracy to Embezzle over $100,000, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in the state prison and a $10,000 additional fine;
  • One count of Possession of an automated sales suppression device, a felony punishable by 1-5 years in prison;
  • 59 counts of filing false monthly sales tax returns, a felony punishable by up to 5 years and/or a $5,000 fine, and;
  • Five counts of filing false joint income tax returns, punishable by up to 5 years and/or a $5,000 fine.

 “If the allegations are true, these individuals intentionally possessed illegal software to steal from the State of Michigan for nothing more it seems than personal greed,” said Schuette. “No one is above the law and those who believe they are will continue to face the consequences.” 

Dong Hyun, 46, and Christina Chang, 51, were arrested on outstanding warrants on Thursday, April 20, 2017. The Changs and their restaurant Sushi Samurai were arraigned late Thursday afternoon before Magistrate Julie Nelson-Klein in the 48th District Court.

Bond was set at $1 million cash/surety on 67 felony counts for both Changs and $100,000 personal recognizance bond was set for their business Sushi Samurai. As a condition of bond both Dong and Christina Chang must surrender their passports and wear a GPS tether monitors. Their next court appearance is a pre-exam conference before Judge Kimberly Small at 9:00 on May 1, 2017 at the 48th District Court in Bloomfield Hills.

Case Background

The Changs were charged after a joint investigation by the Department of Attorney General and the Department of Treasury.

During the investigation, it was determined that the sales in Sushi Samurai’s records were allegedly significantly higher than those reported to the state. The “zapper” software essentially deletes sales from the Point of Sale records (usually a cash register). This is allegedly what the Changs did according to the audit.  It is alleged that thousands of sales receipts had been deleted.

After further investigation it was determined that in total the Changs allegedly embezzled over $170,000 in sales tax receipts alone. In addition, over $2.5 million in sales were allegedly never reported or accounted for in income tax filings between 2012-2016.

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

Christina Sang Chang   Dong Hyun Chang

###

Schuette: How to Spot IRS Debt Collection Scams

April 18, 2017

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced new tips on how to avoid falling prey to a debt collection scam in light of the IRS’s announcement that it will begin using private debt collectors to collect back taxes.

The new program, authorized by Congress in December 2015, allows private debt collection agencies to collect overdue taxes on behalf of the IRS. Taxpayers being assigned to a private collections agency have already received numerous contacts from the IRS, and have not yet resolved overdue taxes.

The program allows collection agencies to identify themselves as contractors of the IRS collecting taxes and requires the agencies to respect taxpayers’ rights and follow the protections for consumers in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Payments by check should always be payable to the “U.S. Treasury” and sent directly to the IRS, not the private collection agency.

The alert issued today reminds Michigan residents to stay vigilant and look out for any unexpected contacts from anyone claiming to be collecting on behalf of the IRS.

Even with the new collection plan, remember the IRS does not accept pre-paid debit cards, gift cards, or wire transfer payments.

Private Debt Collection of IRS Tax Debts


Under the new procedure, the IRS will assign private collection agencies to work on accounts where taxpayers owe money, but the IRS is no longer actively working the case.

The IRS, not the private collection agency, will give taxpayers and their representatives the first written notice that their accounts are being assigned to private collection agencies. The agencies will then separately send a second letter to the taxpayers and their representatives to confirm the transfer of the IRS accounts to that agency.

Employees of the collection agencies must follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which, among other things, means that:

  • A debt collector may not contact you at inconvenient times or places, like before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m., unless you agree to it.
  • A debt collector may not contact you at work if they are told (orally or in writing) that you’re not allowed to receive calls there.
  • A debt collector cannot pretend to be someone else.
  • A debt collector cannot harass, threaten, or deceive you.

How To Avoid Being Scammed


Scam artists can be very sophisticated, and their tactics can be aggressive. For helpful tips on what to look for in a scam, read the Michigan Attorney General’s Consumer Alert on IRS Phone and Email Tax Scams.  Important tips include: 

  • If you are unsure whether you owe back taxes go to the IRS Account Balance and Payment History website.
  • If you do not want to work with an assigned private collection agency to settle your overdue taxes, you must submit a request in writing to the agency.
  • If you receive an unexpected call and you do not owe taxes, hang up immediately. 
  • Remember that caller ID can be spoofed to make it look like the IRS is calling.

What to Do if You Get an Email or Phone Call Purporting to Come From the IRS


First, if you don’t owe taxes, hang up immediately or delete the email without opening it. Report any suspicious solicitation to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration hotline at 800-366-4484.

If you do owe on your taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 if you need federal tax assistance.

You may forward emails to phishing@irs.gov, the address established by the IRS to receive, track, and shut down these scams. Detailed instructions for how to send the emails are available through the IRS. You may not receive an individual response to your email because of the volume of reports the IRS receives each day.

You may also report misuse of the IRS name, logo, forms, or other IRS property using the Treasury Inspector General's website or hotline at 800-366-4484.

Remember that the only genuine IRS website is www.irs.gov. You should never get to this site using a link embedded into an email - instead enter the address in your browser. A website link embedded into an email can easily take you to a fake site.

Consumers may contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at:
Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
517-373-1140
Fax: 517-241-3771
Toll free: 877-765-8388
Online compliant form

 ###

Schuette: Former State Employee Charged with Embezzlement for Stealing over $70,000 She Requested for a Memorial Statue in Lansing's Riverfront Park

April 18, 2017

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced he filed felony embezzlement charges against Maria Louisa Mason, of Williamston, for allegedly stealing money from a state fund designated for a memorial statue.

“I have said it before and will continue to, public officials are held to a higher standard,” said Schuette. “Ms. Mason was allegedly using funds dedicated to a memorial statue to instead fund her personal expenses and now she is facing the consequences.”

Mason was arraigned Tuesday, April 18, 2017 before Magistrate Laura Milllmore in 54A District Court. Her bond was set at $10,000 personal recognizance bond. Mason’s next court appearance is a pre-exam conference scheduled for April 27th at 9:30 a.m.

"The Michigan State Police is committed to protecting the citizens of Michigan and that includes holding public officials accountable if they abuse their power,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the Michigan State Police. "The MSP does not tolerate any type of criminal behavior.”

Case Background

Maria Louisa Mason, 80, is the former Executive Director of the Michigan Hispanic/Latino Commission within the Department of Civil Rights. A complaint was filed with the Michigan State Police by the Department of Civil Rights after it was suspected that Mason had stolen money that had been given to the state to construct a Cesar Chavez Memorial statue in Lansing.

MSP began an investigation that revealed Mason allegedly embezzled over $73,500 from February 2013 until June 2015. She retired in December 2015. It is alleged that Mason took State of Michigan money that had been given to the Commission to build the memorial statue in Lansing. She arranged to have the funds transferred to a non-profit and a local community center. Mason allegedly had control of the bank accounts for both organizations. Neither used the money for the Chavez statute. Instead Mason transferred the funds to her personal accounts and personally took numerous cash withdrawals. The monument has not been built.

Ms. Mason allegedly used her ill-gotten gains, to pay her numerous credit cards, including AMEX, Capital One, Chase, Discover, Macy’s, and Bloomingdales.  She also paid her University Club Fees, her State of Michigan and City of Lansing taxes, her auto insurance, DTE and cell phone bills, and for shoes, among other items.  

The executive director is selected by the commissioners, who are appointed by the Governor with advice and consent from the Senate.

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

 

Mugshot of Mason

 

 ###

Schuette Encourages Senate Education Committee to Vote in Favor of OK2SAY

LANSING –Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today encourages the Senate Education Committee to vote to continue Michigan’s student safety initiative, OK2SAY. Senate Bill 267, introduced by Senator Judy Emmons, would remove the Student Safety Act sunset. The program has already received more than 7,300 tips; 1,200 tips in just the first three months of 2017.

“The results of this program are incredible,” Schuette said. “More students feel empowered to break the code of silence and speak up with the help of OK2SAY, stopping a situation from turning into a tragedy. With the help of the Michigan State Police, schools, local law enforcement, and others, OK2SAY is saving lives by giving students a place to turn for help. We must ensure OK2SAY continues to be there for Michigan students.”

In 2016, OK2SAY received 3,359 tips—up nearly 55% from 2015. Tips were received in 29 of 30 tip categories including:

  • 800 tips on bullying;
  • 569 tips on suicide threats;
  • 480 tips in the “other” category (e.g. anxiety, stress, depression, harassment);
  • 307 tips on self-harm; and
  • 279 tips on cyberbullying. 

The Key Features of OK2SAY

  • Confidential Reporting: State law protects the confidentiality of the reporter’s identity. The identity of the reporting party will not be disclosed to local law enforcement, school officials, or the person about whom a tip is offered, unless the reporter voluntarily chooses to disclose his or her identity. If the reporter is a minor, the parent or guardian must also consent.
  • Comprehensive Technology: Anyone can confidentially submit tips 24/7 using any of the five tip methods detailed below. Multi-media attachments like photos, videos, and links to additional information are encouraged.
  • Coordinated Intervention: Upon receipt of a tip, specially trained OK2SAY technicians at the Michigan State Police screen and forward tips to an appropriate responding agency including: local law enforcement, schools, local community mental health organizations, or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Accountability: Each responding organization is asked to complete an Outcome Report detailing the nature of the tip, how the tip was handled, and whether the tip situation was resolved or required ongoing attention. This provides local entities an opportunity to illustrate that student safety threats are tracked and taken seriously. The 2015 Annual Report details the types and numbers of tips handled throughout the year.

For more information about the program, please visit the OK2SAY website.

How to Submit an OK2SAY Tip

OK2SAY encourages confidential tips on criminal activities or potential harm directed at students, school employees, or schools. Tips can be submitted through the following ways:

Call: 8-555-OK2SAY, 855-565-2729

Text: 652729 (OK2SAY)

Email: ok2say@mi.gov

Web: www.ok2say.com

OK2SAY Mobile App: Available for download in app stores for iPhone and Android.

 ###