Scam tries to bilk donors to slain Detroit Police Officer Loren Courts

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — A swindler is reportedly trying to take advantage of the kindness of people who contributed money to help the family of a fallen cop.

The organizer of a memorial foundation raising money to help the family of slain Detroit Officer Loren Courts is warning donors Wednesday to beware of the scam.

Slain Detroit Police Officer Loren Courts

The Collin Rose Memorial Foundation, named for the Wayne State University Police K9 officer who was gunned down in 2016, launched a Loren Courts Memorial Fundraiser social media effort after Courts was killed July 6 in an ambush.

Rose's former partner, foundation organizer and St. Clair Shores police officer Chris Powell, said someone cloned the group's Instagram account.

"They're emailing people who made a donation on our platform thanking them, and if they respond, they're running the typical Amazon gift card scam (in which the grifter asks the recipient to purchase Amazon gift cards and give the scammer the serial numbers)."

A screenshot of a fake account that was set up to scam donors who gave money to help the family of slain Detroit Police Officer Loren Courts

Powell said he doesn't think anyone has fallen for the hoax.

"We learned about it (Tuesday) and called it out pretty quick and ended the fundraiser," Powell said. "It was going to expire anyway, but we just ended it 12 hours earlier to be safe."

Powell said people may still donate to the Courts family through the Foundation's website at www.collinrosememorial.org. 

The scam is being investigated, Powell said.

Chris Powell, president of the Collin Rose Memorial Foundation

"It just seems foolish — we're all active-duty police officers," he said.

Between the social media campaign, selling "Challenge Coins" and other fundrasing efforts, Powell said his foundation has raised close to $25,000.

"We expect to give a check to the Courts family Friday," he said.

While the survivors of officers killed in the line of duty are provided benefits that include a one-time payment of between $350,000-$425,000 through the federal Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program, it often takes months — sometimes years — to cut through the red tape, Powell said.

"The bills still are coming in, and the family still has to put food on the table," he said.

The family of Rodney "Hot Rod" Jones, a Detroit police officer who died during a department-related motorcycle competition in 2013, only recently received the federal benefit, Powell said.

"Little things can hold it up,"  he said. "After Collin was shot, the doctor used fentanyl as a painkiller, and because it was in his system they initially denied his benefits. They had to go through the medical records and prove who had prescribed it to him."

Families of slain officers also have to deal with funeral costs. Powell said Greater Grace Temple charged the Courts family $5,000 for use of the facility for three days.

"The Roses had to pay about $20,000 out of pocket for Collin's funeral," he said. "Those costs all add up."

ghunter@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2134

Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN