MACOMB TOWNSHIP, MI – On Wednesday February 21st, 2018, Detectives of the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office were given information by Detectives from New York reference criminal activity in Macomb County. During this investigation, Detectives from the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office uncovered a Criminal Enterprise operating in and around the Macomb County area.
The investigation revolved around a phone scam that targeted the elderly. Detectives identified Qingyu Wei, 27, (Asian female) and Xinfeng Zhu, 23, (Asian male) both out of Troy, as suspects. The pair told victims that a family member or a friend was involved in an accident, in jail and needed bond money. The scam was very elaborate; at times using others to act as the family member or act as an attorney. The victims, ranging in ages from 66 years old to 80 years old, were instructed to buy gift cards from Target to pay this bond. The victims then called Wei or Zhu and gave them the gift card numbers and pin numbers.
The pair would go into a Target store and purchase EBay and Steam gift cards with these Target gift cards. Between 01/29/2018 and 02/24/2018 they able to purchase $10,600.00 in gift cards from a single Target in Macomb Township with money obtained by false pretenses. The two used this money to buy high end merchandise and sell it via the internet to customers overseas.
“Telephone scams are real crimes that happen every day. The best way to not become a victim is to learn how to protect yourself from them. Never give out personal information over the phone such as credit card information or your social security number. If you believe the caller is giving you accurate information, take the time to verify it or ask someone you trust to help you. Do not feel rushed and know that if someone requests you to make payment with gift cards it is most likely a scam.” Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham.
The Macomb County Prosecutors Office authorized warrants for Wei and Zhu; one count of Conducting a Criminal Enterprise (20 year felony) and 2 counts of False Pretenses $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 (5 year felony).
Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith stated, “Everyone knows someone who has received a suspicious phone call or email asking to send money. Sadly, these scams target our seniors who are desperate to help out their loved one. However, what is so alarming in this particular case is the intricate scheme these defendants used to target senior citizens who resided vast distances from one another throughout the Country. Our office will work tirelessly to bring justice upon the couple that carried out these despicable acts here in Macomb County.” Smith added, “It’s a challenging topic. Yet, it is so important to speak to our parents and elderly in the family and advise never to send money of any kind without first confirming the source.”
On 03/12/2018 Macomb County Sheriff’s Office Detectives executed a search warrant at the home of Wei and Zhu in the city of Troy. Wei and Zhu were taken into custody without incident. During the search, Detectives seized electronics, vehicles, US Currency and a plethora of high end merchandise purchased with the illegal proceeds.
Wei and Zhu were arraigned on 03/15/2018 in the 41-A District Court of Shelby Township. Both are held at the Macomb County Jail with a bond of $250,000.00 and will need to surrender their passports before release. Wei and Zhu are scheduled to appear in the 41-A District Court of Shelby Township on 3/29/2018 at 8:30am for a probable cause conference.