WARREN, Mich. (WJBK) - Scammers in Oakland County are targeting senior citizens and families in Warren and are ripping people off of millions of dollars in some cases.
Police say transient criminals have no permanent address, they travel the country, and are currently targeting families in Warren.
Three men all dressed in pink shirts knock on a door of heir target: a senior citizen. The men have struck here in Metro Detroit and across the Midwest. They have fake businesses - including cement coating,roofing, and even pose as utility workers.
Investigators say these transients are all related and have one job: to rip people off.
To avoid getting caught they have multiple names and give out phone numbers for burner phones and business addresses are linked with empty lots. At least 14 people were involved in one scam this summer in Macomb County alone.
Warren police deputy Commisoner Matt Nichols says the first red flag: $289 a pound for cement.
"You're looking at buying an 80 pound bag of instant cement for five dollars or less. When you're looking at $289, you measure that out it's like $23,000 for the same 80 pound bag of cement" he said.
Seniors are falling for the fraud. The shoddy work is done instantly and money is demanded on the spot.
A task force was created to investigate and combat these crimes, In surveillance set up by family members, an elderly woman is distracted by a member of the crime network while his partner swipes her purse from under the table, grabs money. She's looking out the window while the fake contractor distracts her.
The criminals are even harder track because of their transient lifestyle.
"You're not going from Warren to Sterling heights to commit a crime, you're going from Chicago to Detroit or you're going from Detroit to New York. If you steal some jewelry in a home invasion in Detroit you're not going to pawn it in Detroit - you're not going to get it rid of it in Detroit, you're going to go several states away," Nichols said.
Also making it hard is seniors who are often afraid to say anything because they fear what people will think. The inability of seniors to pick suspects out in a lineup is also a factor.
Experts say to ignore their pressure and sales tactics and that your answer should be simple: no.
"If it's a good deal today it will be a good day tomorrow so there's really no pressure. and to enter into some agreement to do some work on your home or on your car or a utility company if there some pressure to it, it should add to that level of suspicion," Nichols said.