Wrong Derek Sutherin?

Last Updated 9/17/2006

General Information

Employment History

Detective  - Traverse City Police Department

Detective  - Traverse City PD

Detective  - 

US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Agency

Web References  

Northern Physicians Organization

Detective Derek R. Sutherin, Traverse City Police DepartmentDetective Sutherin has been with the Traverse City Police Department for nineteen years.He spent 5 1/2 years working undercover as a Traverse Narcotics Team Member specializing in drug related activity.He has also spent the last nine years as a detective specializaing in embezzlement and fraud.Prior to his career in the Traverse City Police Department, he worked for the US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).In addition to working for the federal government, he was a Michigan State Trooper from 1974 until 1984.

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But if there is a mystery shopping provider in Northern Michigan, it's a mystery to Derek Sutherin, a Traverse City detective who has investigated these scams for years.
His advice: If you see an ad for a mystery shopper-especially if it's written in poor English-avoid it like a bad novel. Here's how it works: Just like a legitimate mystery shopper, you'll be asked to visit and evaluate several local businesses. But in the scam case, they're advertised more as dream jobs: Excellent money, part-time, and very flexible work hours. With the scam scheme, you'll receive-at some point-a cashier's check or money order for a large amount of money. The check is usually drawn on a well-known corporation such as Northwest Airlines or Wal-Mart. It makes no logical sense and might serve as a big tip-off, Sutherin said. You'll be told the check constitutes your weekly salary as well as money required to make purchases at the businesses you'll be spying on, Sutherin said. The bank will have to reimburse the corporation, and then call on the mystery shopper to make good on the check, Sutherin said. "They'll tell them they want their money back and they'll freeze the account until they get it," he said. Fortunately, the Western Union offices in Northern Michigan are familiar with the scam routine and will often slow down the transaction or alert the victim, Sutherin said.

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Often scammers visit websites such as match.com and develop a strong relationship with their victim before moving in, said Traverse City Detective Derek Sutherin.
A Suttons Bay woman, single and lonely, sought out friendship on an Internet chat room. A gentleman she "met" seemed like an interesting guy, writing about a bridge he was building in Africa. As their relationship bloomed, they talked about marriage and money. Out of kindness, he sent her five or six money orders from Wal-Mart. He told her she could cash them and then wire back a fraction of the check amount to him in Africa. But when the woman tried to open checking accounts in Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties with the money orders, she was stunned to find out they were fraudulent. In fact, Sutherin holds monthly meetings with area bank representatives, the FBI and Secret Service to discuss the most current frauds. He also makes sure that frauds are publicized in the newspaper and television. But no matter how much this issue is in the news, there always seems to be people who fall victim to obvious scams, he said. They start by looking in your mailbox to learn where you bank, Sutherin said. "They might call you and say, 'This is so and so with Fifth Third Bank, and I'm calling to notify you that there's an issue with your account. First, I'll need to verify your account information, and then ask you for your account information,'" Sutherin said.

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