African Gold Scam Takes $70,000 from Michigan Credit Union

Last week 63-year-old Kenneth J. Plonski was charged in a Michigan court for defrauding the Copoco Community Credit Union of more than $70,000. Plonski claims he was also duped by a “friend” into wiring cash to Africa to buy gold. However, Plonski claims he never received any African gold.

The alleged scam is a classic case of “robbing Peter to pay Paul”. Plonski allegedly took out a mortgage with the CCCU in 2014 and began making his monthly payments. Court records show Plonski also used the mortgage to secure a Visa gift card with a $20,000 line of credit, according to a local Michigan network.

This is basically how the scam worked: beginning in the spring of 2016, Plonski allegedly began making large payments with the Visa card’s line of credit and sending them through an online bill pay service like PayPal. After a day or so went by, Plonski would then fund that line of credit with a cash advance taken from the CCCU. After the advance funds made it into the credit card’s balance, Plonski would then reverse the charges on the payments and the bank was left holding the bag.

The scam worked by shuffling debt from one lender to another and using the transaction times in between deposits to take advantage of reversing the charges.

But what was Plonski doing with this cash? Well, he thought he was buying gold from Africa. Turns out, while Plonski was busy scamming the CCCU, someone else was scamming him.

Scamming the Scammer

In addition to being an admirer of gold, Plonski was also an online game enthusiast. It was while playing a particular “farm” game that the Michigan man met and befriended another individual claiming to be from the western African country of Ghana. The stranger enticed Plonski with promises of cheap gold from Africa, which he could then sell in the US for a profit.

According to the scammer, gold was so plentiful in Ghana that it was hardly worth anything. Finally convinced, Plonski began sending the man the money he was taking advances on for the purposes of buying cheap African gold. As is usually the case, the African scammer began demanding more and more cash, which Plonski produced.

He then gave the man his passwords and access to his computer to complete the online transactions. Plonski argues he believed the transactions to be legitimate because the banks continued to advance him cash. In all, Plonski is said to owe an estimated $72,413.67 to CCCU.

One Michigan man’s story is really a cautionary tale for a culture addicted to easy money, fiat currency, and central banking. Shuffling debt is something Americans seem to have a natural aptitude for, and Plonski’s story shows the dangers of buying gold from sources claiming to have a deal too good to be true. Always buy gold and silver from trusted names like GoldSafe.

Online scam

About three years prior, Plonski started playing a farm game on Facebook through which he befriended a man who claimed he lived in Ghana, a country in western Africa. The man told Plonski his father worked in African gold mines and that, because gold was so plentiful on the continent, it wasn’t worth much and could be purchased for very little, then sent to the U.S. and sold for a sizable profit, court records show.

Plonski began wiring money to an African bank, he told police. His Facebook friend started asking for more and more cash, however, telling him more money was needed to insure the gold and to ship it to the U.S.

“Ken advised he never received anything for his payments except for promises,” court records state. “Ken states that he allowed (the man) to ‘take over’ his computer and provided passwords and account numbers to him. He would utilize Ken’s computer to make transactions and Ken, believing the transactions had been made, would be instructed to pick up the cash following the transactions. Ken advised he believed the transactions were legitimate because the banks allowed him to obtain the cash. Ken would then wire the cash back to (the man).”

Plonski on April 22 opened a savings account at Chemical Bank and on several occasions, deposited large sums of money and then wired them to the man, court records show. He last attempted to wire cash overseas on July 15, after he was told by police and his attorney that he was being scammed, court records show.

Plonski on Thursday, Feb. 9, appeared in Bay County District Court for arraignment on one count of false pretenses between $50,000 and $100,000. The charge is punishable by up to 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $25,000 or three times the value of misappropriated money.

The arraigning judge set Plonski’s bond at $5,000 cash-surety and scheduled his case for a preliminary examination for 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23.

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