New Michigan Case Sparks Fresh Concern Over License Scams



A new case involving a Michigan physical therapist and scammers posing as officials from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has renewed concern for professionals required to maintain licenses in the state of Michigan. Phone scammers posing as government officials is nothing new, with the top fraud of 2020 being imposter scams according to Federal Trade Commission reports1. In fact, just last month the El Paso Times reported that FBI El Paso expressed concern over phone scammers spoofing legitimate numbers from companies and agencies to lend credibility to their calls and, in the case of government agencies, a substantial dose of fear.

"The main part of the government personation scam as we see is just another twist on extortion," FBI El Paso Division Special Agent Jeanette Harper said in March. "All they are trying to do is scare you, take you by surprise and try to part with your money. They want you to react and not think logically because they have your adrenaline up. They have you scared2."

According to The Detroit News, however, the perpetrators of this latest Michigan report not only relied on fear tactics, but also involved directions to retrieve a hardcopy notification of the pending ‘immediate temporary suspension’ of this physical therapist’s license from a UPS Store. The report states that the letterhead of the document appeared to be the official letterhead belonging to LARA and the contents included the physical therapist’s actual license number. A phone call is one thing, a trip to the local UPS Store that results in what appears to be an official document to corroborate the fiction is one insidiously clever detail too far. One that resulted in the loss of an entire life’s savings3.

Director of LARA, Orlene Hawks stated that no one from her office would ever call to threaten to suspend a license. “Our investigators have teamed up with Michigan State Police to put a stop to as many scams as possible — but we need our licensees to be alert to the possibility that the next text, email or phone call they get about their license may be someone trying to scam them3.”

The MICPA is invested in ensuring that our members licensed through LARA are protected against fraudulent behavior by keeping them informed of known threats. Knowing the process through which LARA will address issues related to licenses in Michigan is key to discerning attempted fraud with regard to your own. On its official webpage, LARA advises that licensed individuals consider the following to determine if a communication is legitimate:

“Be cautious of unsolicited requests for any personal information. LARA will not contact you directly asking for personal information.

Be suspicious of any unexpected emails or links to websites. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.

Do not respond to or open hyperlinks in emails or text messages requesting to validate your personal data.

Do not share your licensing, personal, or financial information over the telephone or via text message with a purported representative of the Department. If asked for sensitive information, please request the representative to contact you from a email account or provide you with an official request by mail. You may also contact us at the email address or phone number below to verify if the Department is requesting any information from you.

If there are any hyperlinks, check the link or URL before clicking.  LARA websites will have the “” domain name.

Correspondence from LARA will always include a contact number or email address.

If you suspect fraud, report it immediately online to”

“Don’t be fooled by a scam, no matter how real it seems,” Attorney General Dana Nessel advised. “Do your homework and report anything that is even remotely suspicious to the proper authorities. It is much easier to protect yourself from a scam than to recover from one.”

Indeed, the victim in this latest case is not able to retrieve the money that was lost. She isn’t alone. The FTC reports that in 2020 $1.2 billion was lost to imposter scams, with a median loss of $8501. If you ever receive a phone call, email or even a hardcopy letter from any government agency, the best practice is to end the call, avoid clicking on links or postpone reacting to paper mail and contact LARA directly. Specific questions or reports of possible scams can be directed to LARA at

  1. Vaca, Monica. “The Top Frauds of 2020.Federal Trade Commission. 4 Feb. 2021. Accessed on 27 Apr. 2021.
  2. Martinez, Aaron. “FBI El Pason Warns of Phone Scammers Pretending…El Paso Times. 24 Mar. 2021. Accessed on 27 Apr. 2021.
  3. Hicks, Mark. “Michigan Woman Loses Life Savings in Licensing Scam.The Detroit News. 26 Apr. 2021. Accessed on 27 Apr. 2021.

Source: MICPA

 Back to List