State Police warn of bail-call scams

Daily Mining Gazette file photo Phone scams involving bail requests are becoming rampant, according to the Michigan State Police.

The Michigan State Police Calumet Post has been receiving a high volume of calls, a release stated, regarding telephone calls received by local residents.

Residents report callers are claiming to be a grandchild or relative, saying they are in jail. The initial caller may hand the phone off to a second party claiming to be the relative’s attorney.

Either the initial caller or the second party will ask for bond money in order to be released from jail. There are different methods, but the objective of the call is to convince the recipient to provide credit card information or some other means of obtaining money.

The system of arranging bail does not work that way in Houghton, said Detective Lt. Josh Saaranen of the Houghton County Sheriff’s Office.

Once arrested, the individual is allowed to make a phone call, he said.

“So, typically, the person on the other end of the line recognizes who they are,” said Saaranen, “and to be bonded out, they have to have an individual come to the Sheriff’s Office here at the jail, to pay, or they can pay online.”

However, paying online is not possible in jail. That would need to be done by a third party, he said.

In Keweenaw County, the system is slightly different, said Keweenaw County Sheriff Bill Luokkanen.

“If it’s a set bond, say for DUI (driving under the influence) or something like that,” said Luokkanen, “the magistrate sets the bond, and if you don’t have money to pay that bond, you can contact friends or family to get that money to you, or you could contact a bail bondsman.”

The bail bondsman is loaning the arrested person the bond money, provided the individual has collateral equal to the amount of the bond.

The Keweenaw County Sheriff also accepts bond money by debit or credit card, Luokkanen said.

Attorneys will not call on behalf of the individual because an attorney is not retained, in most cases, until after the individual has posted their own bond.

State troopers are reminding the public that these calls are not legitimate. Troopers advise to immediately hang up. Do not give out personal information, and do not re-contact any number provided.