Scam, threats aimed at elected officials investigated

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published May 7, 2021

 Warren Mayor Jim Fouts cautioned friends and supporters after bogus social media accounts were created using his name and likeness.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts cautioned friends and supporters after bogus social media accounts were created using his name and likeness.

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WARREN — Many people get Facebook friend requests from people they’re already friends with, accompanied by vague questions like, “How are you doing?” It’s a sure sign that a friend’s account has been “hacked” for some unknown purpose by someone sitting who knows where.

But when the operators of fake accounts start asking for money, that’s crossing the line.

“I just urge citizens to disregard anything where I would be asking them for money or anything like that,” Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said on May 6. “Obviously, it’s a fraud. I guess they’ve been sending things to City Hall employees under my name.”

Fouts said he alerted Warren police, who are now investigating. He said some people online had speculated it could have been done by political enemies, but he said he had no proof of that.

“I’m not happy about it, but there’s not much I can do about it,” Fouts said.

On his Facebook page, Fouts posted photos of Instagram and Facebook notifications sent from bogus accounts.

Warren City Council Secretary Mindy Moore said council members have also seen their own city emails commandeered. She said she’s received emails from City Council President Pat Green that turned out to be fake.

“I got one from Pat that says, ‘Hey, I’m tied up in a meeting. Can you grab some gift cards today?’ It has happened twice with Pat,” Moore said.

In addition to the fake accounts, Warren police were also reportedly investigating threats from an actual person aimed toward at least two members of the City Council following a meeting last month.

Moore said she took a phone call at home that she thought was from a supporter. It turned out to be someone who was angry and claimed that he was cut off while speaking at the meeting.

“He just started screaming at me, saying, ‘I was waiting. You cut me off.’ He just went on, just went off,” Moore said. “He said, ‘You’re a member of a criminal enterprise and you better watch out for your kids and your family.’ I hung up on him.”

Moore said she told Green about the call and that he, too, had received one. Green notified the police, and an investigation resulted in a warrant for the caller, who is also facing charges for harassing court employees elsewhere in Macomb County.

“I’m not a person to overreact to this kind of thing, but he sounded off,” Moore said.

Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer confirmed the caller was named in a misdemeanor warrant on two charges of malicious use of a telecommunications device. The charges were authorized by prosecutors at the conclusion of the Warren police investigation.

“At this point, we’ve had communication with him. We’re trying to locate him, to turn himself in,” Dwyer said.

Dwyer said detectives were also looking into the fake accounts set up in the mayor’s name.

“It’s an active criminal investigation,” Dwyer said.

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