Michigan: Postal fraud stopped

Discussion in 'North American scam news' started by Jessica, Jul 24, 2009.

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  1. Jessica

    Jessica Administrator Staff Member

    Midland banker's suspicion thwarts $25,000 scam of 80-year-old
    Paul Egan / The Detroit News, Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    A Midland bank manager took customer service to a new height when he followed an elderly woman who withdrew $25,000 and helped bust an alleged fraud artist, officials said Monday.

    Carl Ahearn, manager of the main branch of Chemical Bank in downtown Midland, became concerned when 80-year-old Marion Case made the large cash withdrawal last December.

    Case told Ahearn she was taking the cash to a friend, who was going to fly to Oklahoma and give it to her son.

    But Ahearn remained suspicious. He followed her as she walked to the nearby post office, where Case bought an Express Mail envelope addressed to a man in New Jersey. Ahearn shared his concerns with postal officials, who opened an investigation and arrested a man Monday for fraud.

    "We have long-term relationships with a lot of our customers," Ahearn said Monday. "We know what they do and what they wouldn't normally do."

    Case had been the victim of a phone scam in which she was told she had won nearly $1 million in a sweepstakes but had to pay certain "processing fees," according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Bay City. The $25,000 she sent that day was on top of $25,775 she had already sent since she was targeted a month earlier.

    Elan Saraf, 45, of Newark, N.J., a flight attendant with Continental Airlines, was arrested Monday and charged with mail fraud as he landed in New Jersey on an international flight. Two other current or former Continental flight attendants are identified as having been involved in the alleged fraud, but have not been accused of wrongdoing.

    "The investigation is still ongoing and the case has the potential to be much larger," said Wylie Christopher, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Detroit.

    "We're just grateful that citizens are willing to go above and beyond to make sure those who do things wrong pay for their actions."

    Case addressed her Express Mail package to Ron Robinson, a former Continental flight attendant who rents a Newark apartment building and "receives large amounts of Express Mail packages from people all over the world," according to an affidavit attached to the complaint.

    The envelope full of cash was picked up by a third Continental flight attendant, David McQueen, the affidavit said. He told investigators Robinson called him and asked him to pick up the package and give it to Saraf, the affidavit said. Investigators watched McQueen deliver the package to Saraf.

    Julie King, a spokeswoman for Continental, said the airline does not comment on personnel matters but is cooperating with investigators.

    A search of public records shows a Ronald C. Robinson, 50, listed at the Newark address. He could not be reached for comment. Shown living in another apartment at the same address is David W. McQueen, 49, who also could not be reached.

    Case, who declined to be interviewed, has not gotten her $25,000 back, but she will. For now, "it's in our custody" as potential evidence, Christopher said. It's not clear whether Case will recover the cash she sent earlier, he said.

    Ahearn and other bank officials would not discuss specifics of the case, citing bank privacy laws. The details were spelled out in the federal complaint.

    "We do train all of our employees ... in recognizing signs of suspicious activities and we have established procedures in place," said Chemical Bank spokesman John Hatfield.

    Ahearn's actions are commendable, said Jason Moon, a spokesman for Michigan's Office of Financial and Insurance Services. "It's common that you see these scams with people just trying to take advantage of seniors," he said.

    "Community bankers know their customers," Moon said. "We hope that all state bank managers would take the same initiative."

    [pegan@detnews.com] (313) 222-2069

  2. Templar

    Templar Super Moderator

  3. what happened to David McQueen ? In other reports the picture did not match David McQueen I knew from continental . I meAn David and I were roommates for continental in Honolulu and moved together when HNL closed to FLL and were commuters to that Skaggy base EWR ( rat hole base).
  4. blade

    blade Guest

    hey what happened to Bobby Edington ,we went to Australia together on continental first class baby. and had a water fight in the hotel . ha ha ha
  5. Nanook

    Nanook Administrator Staff Member

    This is an 8 year old story. If you have something new to add to it, please do.
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