January 5, 2011 - State Police Investigate Fraud Scam Involving Government Fleet Contracts; Scam Discovered in Five Counties - More Victims Possible

Contact: Sgt. Kevin Hansz, Cheboygan Post, (231) 627-9973
Agency: State Police

Bruno Novel CHEBOYGAN. The Michigan State Police (MSP) Cheboygan Post is currently investigating a fraud/scam complaint in which a subject misrepresented himself as the new vendor for state and federal government vehicle fleet contracts.  Investigation determined the subject approached numerous small businesses in the automotive service industry in Cheboygan, Presque Isle, Alpena, Alcona and Iosco counties, promising the businesses they would be the exclusive automotive service providers for state and federal fleet vehicles.

In order for this to happen, the businesses had to sign a contract for a new credit card terminal.  This contract required personal identification information for the business owner, including the business' bank account information.  Believing their business would benefit financially by servicing more vehicles, several businesses signed the fraudulent contracts. 

Further investigation led to the identification and arrest of BRUNO VAL NOVEL, age 43, of Birmingham, Mich., and Texas.  NOVEL was arrested in Alpena on Jan. 3, 2011.  He was returned to Cheboygan County where he was charged with five counts of Fraudulent Activities, each a 10-year felony.  He was arraigned in the 89th District Court in Cheboygan and his bond was set at $200,000 cash. 

When making contact with the businesses, NOVEL often used the name PAUL NOVEL, and indicated he operated as the owner of Knight Industries Limited.  In addition to promising government fleet contract business, he also promised that participating businesses would receive a federal grant of $80,000 in February 2011. 

The MSP continues to investigate this complaint.  Confirmed cases involving NOVEL and this fraud are currently being investigated in Cheboygan, Presque Isle, Alpena, Alcona and Iosco counties; however, it is believed NOVEL may have conducted this fraud in many more areas around the state.  If businesses in the automotive service industry believe they have been a victim of NOVEL, they are advised to contact their local MSP post.

Arrest Photo (Above): Bruno Val Novel