Schuette: Michigan to Receive more than $1 Million in National Settlement with Uber over Data Breach

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that he, along with the other 49 states and the District of Columbia, has reached an agreement with California-based ride-sharing company Uber Technologies, Inc. (Uber) to address the company’s one-year delay in reporting a data breach to its affected drivers.

As part of the nationwide settlement, Uber has agreed to pay $148 million to the states. Michigan will receive $1,803,472.49. In addition, Uber has agreed to strengthen its corporate governance and data security practices to help prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

“Companies have a responsibility to be upfront and transparent with their customers, employees, and stakeholders,” said Schuette. “Uber failed to do that and now they are seeing the consequences of their actions.”


Uber learned in November 2016 that hackers had gained access to some personal information that Uber maintains about its drivers, including drivers’ license information pertaining to approximately 600,000 drivers nationwide. Uber tracked down the hackers and obtained assurances that the hackers deleted the information. However, even though some of that information, namely drivers’ license numbers for Uber drivers, triggered Michigan law requiring them to notify affected Michigan residents, Uber failed to report the breach in a timely manner, waiting until November 2017 to report it.

Michigan Settlement Details

Michigan will provide each Uber driver impacted in the state with a $100 payment. Eligible drivers are those drivers whose driver’s license numbers were accessed during the 2016 breach.  Some of those drivers may not still be driving for Uber today.  A settlement administrator will be appointed to provide notice and payment to eligible drivers.

The settlement between the state of Michigan and Uber requires the company to:

  • Comply with Michigan data breach and consumer protection law regarding protecting Michigan residents’ personal information and notifying them in the event of a data breach concerning their personal information;
  • Take precautions to protect any user data Uber stores on third-party platforms outside of Uber;
  • Use strong password policies for its employees to gain access to the Uber network;
  • Develop and implement a strong overall data security policy for all data that Uber collects about its users, including assessing potential risks to the security of the data and implementing any additional security measures beyond what Uber is doing to protect the data;
  • Hire an outside qualified party to assess Uber’s data security efforts on a regular basis and draft a report with any recommended security improvements. Uber will implement any such security improvement recommendations; and
  • Develop and implement a corporate integrity program to ensure that Uber employees can bring any ethics concerns they have about any other Uber employees to the company, and that it will be heard.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia are participating in this multi-state agreement with Uber.

Two Michigan Lakes Contain Toxic Algae

Blue-green algae has been confirmed by health officials in two Michigan lakes, Belleville Lake and Ford Lake. This toxic algae is deemed harmful to people and pets.

Harmful algae blooms occur under certain weather conditions, including high light and nutrients. When these blooms contain toxins or chemicals, they become harmful.

Reactions to Toxic Algae

Blue-green algae can cause skin irritations and rashes, allergic reactions, sore throat, blisters, and runny eyes when people come in contact with the water, or even get misted by it. Swallowing the water can have a more severe reactions, causing diarrhea, stomach pain, toxic kidney and liver, as well as general weakness, numbness, dizziness and difficulty breathing.

How to Protect Against Blue-Green Algae

  • Don’t drink lake water. The toxic effect isn’t even removed by boiling the lake water.
  • Avoid swimming in areas where the algae is visible.
  • Don’t eat fish from the contaminated lakes.
  • Be aware of what the foamy algae blooms look like. The scum on top the of the lake is usually green or blue, but can also be reddish brown.
  • Since Belleville Lake and Ford Lake have been identified as having toxic algae, extreme cautions should be used on these lakes.
  • If exposed to the toxic algae, rinse the affected area with fresh water and seek medical attention.

Testing was done at the boat launch on September 12th at both lakes and the toxins were present, as well as visible signs of the blue-green algae. Officials say that is its safe to boat and water ski in the affected lakes, but people should do so using caution and follow the posted signs regarding beach closings.

Schuette Alleges Maryland Charity is Defrauding the Public in Nationwide Sweepstakes Fundraising Scheme

Charity mails sweepstakes notices asking for donations to combat disease; but charity has no real charitable programs

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced a Notice of Intended Action and Cease and Desist Order against National Emergency Medicine Association of Edgewood, Maryland for over 600,000 violations of the Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act. Violations included operating a fundraising scheme to defraud the public and diverting funds raised to other purposes. Over 30,000 donations – totaling nearly $200,000 – were received from Michigan donors.

“This group has been scamming people for years, preying on the generosity of Michigan’s donors and inflating the numbers on their financial statements,” said Schuette. “Donors can also protect themselves by researching charities before donating, and by reporting suspicious solicitations to my office.”

National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA) has seven days to comply with the cease and desist order and 21 days to respond and work on reaching an appropriate agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached the Attorney General intends to bring action in court.


National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA) came to the attention of the Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Section through an audit of its charitable solicitation registration and IRS Form 990. The Charitable Trust Section questioned certain statements on the IRS Form 990, including that almost all NEMA’s reported charitable programs were “educational” and resulted from aggressive “joint cost” allocations of fundraising expenses to charitable programs. While joint cost allocations can be justified if certain conditions are met, past investigations have revealed misuse of these allocations as a way of inflating a charity’s reported activities.

The Attorney General’s investigation required NEMA to produce its solicitation materials, to document its charitable programs, and to justify its joint cost allocations. NEMA’s responses revealed numerous violations.

For years, NEMA has been mailing millions of sweepstakes fundraising mailers nationwide using the names National Heart Council, National Stroke Council, and National Alzheimer’s Council. The mailers generally inform the recipient that they are “approved” to win a major prize of $10,000 or $1 million, that the winner has been selected, and that they simply need to respond or they will miss their chance to win. The recipient is also asked to include a donation to help fight heart disease, stroke, or Alzheimer’s. Some mailings specify that donations will fund vital research or fund other grants. Using these tactics, NEMA has regularly raised more than $1 million per year, sending between 1 million and 2 million mailings per year.

Where Donations Actually Went

However, the money raised by NEMA does not actually go to grants or research to fight these diseases, instead it almost exclusively goes to sending additional sweepstakes and fundraising campaigns, which it categorizes as its “educational program.” But these so-called educational campaigns are really fundraisers sprinkled with a few generic educational slogans usually placed on the back of a sweepstakes announcement and under the small print legal disclosures.

Apart from these “educational” fundraising campaigns, NEMA does not have any programs to fight stroke, heart disease, or Alzheimer’s. NEMA’s responses to the Attorney General admit that their last equipment grant to combat stroke was in 2002, last stroke grant for education was in 1995 and their last research grant was in 1994. Despite this, NEMA told donors that it had recently “expanded” its stroke education grants and that funds raised would be used to “help fund vital research to find a cure” for Alzheimer’s disease.

Even though NEMA’s nearly exclusive activity has been sending millions of sweepstakes mailers they have not had a sweepstakes winner since 2013.

In addition, in the past three years, NEMA had just six grants totaling $13,965, two of which were $200 grants to send disabled children to the circus—a purpose not mentioned in any mailings. In 2015, NEMA raised nearly $1 million in donations, but reported just $650 in grants. They admitted, however, that this overstated their grants for the year, which were limited to one $200 grant for the circus.

Despite making minimal charitable grants and having almost no meaningful charitable programs (and few sweepstakes winners), during the years 2006 to 2016, NEMA’s President Kelly Herzog received total compensation and benefits of $1,786,826, an average of $162,438 per year.

Michigan a Leading State in Fighting Charitable Solicitation Fraud

Over the last two years, Attorney General Schuette’s Charitable Trust Section has ramped up its enforcement of Michigan’s law prohibiting deceptive charitable solicitations.

Below are some of Michigan’s recent charitable solicitations fraud actions:

  1. Schuette Leads Multi-State to Shut Down Deceptive Veterans Charity
  2. Florida Charity to Pay Over $100K to Breast Cancer Research, and is Banned From Soliciting in Michigan for Ten Years Due to Deceptive Fundraising
  3. Utah Fundraiser to Pay $90K and Cease Michigan Solicitations Through 2020 for Fundraising Misrepresentations
  4. Schuette: Deceptive Charity to Cease Operation after Misleading Donors
  5. Schuette Obtains Fine Against Dearborn-based Fundraiser for Illegally Operating Clothing Donation Bins
  6. Schuette: Texas-based Fundraiser Pays $75,000 for Operating Deceptively Labeled Clothing Bins
  7. Schuette alleges deceptive solicitations violations against Florida-based veterans charity
  8. Schuette Seeks Dissolution of Opus Bono Sacerdotii Charity for Lack of Governance, Diversion of Assets, and Deceptive Fundraising Practices

Charitable Solicitations Resources

Complaints regarding charitable solicitations may be filed through the Attorney General’s online complaint form, or by mailing the Charitable Trust Section at P.O. Box 30214, Lansing, MI 48909-7714, or by emailing the Charitable Trust Section.

To assist individuals in making wise decisions regarding which charitable donations to support, Attorney General Schuette established an online searchable database for charities. The Attorney General also publishes an annual professional fundraising charitable solicitation report, available at on the Attorney General website. Through these resources, users have access to information to aid them in determining which charities are worth supporting—and which are not. The Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Section is also available at 517-373-1152 to answer inquiries about a charity.

Schuette: Former 36th District Court Officer Pleads Guilty to Two Counts of Embezzlement by a Public Official

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that former 36th District Court officer William Blake, 47, of Redford, has pleaded guilty to two counts of Embezzlement by a Public Official – $50 or more.

“Mr. Blake broke the law for personal monetary benefit,” said Schuette. “His plea today means he will now be held accountable for his actions. I applaud my Public Integrity Team as well as the FBI’s Detroit-Area Public Corruption Task Force for their continued hard work in making sure public officials obey the law and are held accountable when they do not.”

Blake pleaded guilty before Judge Vonda Evans on Monday, September 24, 2018. As part of the plea, Blake who was formerly both a Detroit Police officer and Highland Park Police officer, will relinquish his MICOLES certification. A sentencing date has been set for January 14, 2019.

The charges were filed by Schuette’s Public Integrity Unit in February following an investigation by the FBI’s Detroit-Area Public Corruption Task Force.

Case Background

Between September 2013 and October 2015, Court Officer Blake, first as an employee of the court, and later independently contracted by the court, embezzled judgment money paid to him in his capacity as a court officer. In a lawsuit when the court determines that a plaintiff is owed money from a defendant the court issues a judgment. The court then issues orders to seize property. Court officers are assigned to collect these judgments from defendants and pay it to the plaintiff using the power of the court. As a court officer, Blake was assigned writs of executions as well as orders to seize property to collect funds such judgments. Blake collected judgment money from defendants. Instead of paying it to the plaintiffs, he pocketed a judgment of approximately $19,700.00.

In one instance the investigation found that Blake appeared, with his court issued badge and gun, to the East Lake Baptist Church in Detroit. Blake identifying himself as a court officer and demanded an immediate payment to him of $5,000.00 on an outstanding judgment. The Pastor could only pay $1,000.00, which the Pastor paid Blake took the money and pocketed it. The investigation also revealed that Blake did not file the required documents about such collections with the court. By not filing the proper documents, the court would not know about his collections or his failure to pay the money to the court or the appropriate plaintiff.

The investigation also revealed that Officer Blake had been trained by and worked with then Court Officer Marlon Cleveland.  Officer Cleveland was also investigated by the FBI’s Detroit-Area Public Corruption Task Force and the Attorney General’s PIU for similar conduct that Blake engaged in. Marlon Cleveland was charged and convicted by the U.S. Attorney for his thefts of 36th District Court judgment monies and sentenced to prison.

Rare Floating Lotus Flower in Full Bloom at Kensington Metropark

The American Lotus or Yellow Lotus is a rare blooming plant that grows in marshes. There are few spots in Michigan that boast having these beautiful flowers, but at Kensington Metropark, they are blooming in abundance.

Part of the Lily family of flowers, the American Lotus flowering plant has been on the endangered species list. The bright yellow blossom can reach a foot wide and the inner receptacle is a darker yellow. These flowers grow in the shallow waters of marshes and wetlands and have leaves that are similar to that of a lily pad. Interestingly, the petals of the flower actually repel water. They are rare in Michigan, but they end up spreading vastly in the few areas that do have them.

It is no surprise that the Yellow Lotus is thriving on Kent Lake in Kensington Metropark. The same area ends itself well to the waterfowl. Egrets, herons, sandhill cranes, and other birds already call this park in Milford, MI their home. They too enjoy the shallow march environments. In fact, they are an invasive species, in fact, and that is evident when you take a boat ride through Kent Lake to see the large area filled with these colorful floating flowers. They have been known to take over shallow waterways, preventing fishing and even making it difficult for boats to pass through.

The American Lotus is an edible plant. Natives used to cook the leaves and the seeds can either be eaten raw when they are young or they can be dried out and popped in the microwave, like popcorn. However, they are considered endangered and are, therefore, illegal to pick. It is the only aquatic wildflower in MI that is protected.  They tend to make their appearance and disappear over the years because the birds eat the seeds though. Also, as the season comes to end, the flower dies off, the stalk winds down into the base to form a bulb, and that attracts other animal life, like beavers, musrkrat, and deer.

While the American Lotus is an invasive wildflower, it is also a beautiful and protected aquatic plant. The peak time of year to see the American Lotus is late July through mid August and they are in full bloom at Kensington Metropark now.

Stranger Danger: Children Being Lured Into Meeting By Online Gaming

Children being lured into meeting up with strangers online is nothing new, and is something parents need to be very aware of.  However, the latest method that predators are using to meet young kids is through online gaming.

Online gaming is a complex and wonderful world of fantasy, but as players get younger and younger, there is a risk for child predators preying on them.  Even teenagers can be lured into meeting under false pretenses because not only are the predators skilled at what they do, but the teens have a hard time separating fantasy play from reality.

Since most games allow users to play in their virtual world with people they don’t know, including adults, it opens up the opportunity for predictors to become “friends” with the child and work to set up a meeting in person. They may tell the child that they are the same age as them or bribe them with freebies for the game. They also “groom” the child by becoming friends with their other friends and building a “relationship” so they feel comfortable telling them things and eventually meeting up with them.

Parents need to be aware of who their kids are interacting with, whether it is in person, in school, in their neighborhood, on social media platforms, and even in their online gaming. Parental settings can be controlled by their phone using an app. From the setting within the PlayStation menu, you can go to Parent Controls/Family Management and from there you can add restrictions. You can limit chat rooms to where the child has to start it, and they are not able to join or accept chats from strangers.

Whether you have a young child or a teenager who is playing online games, it is important to know the ins and out of the system and games they are playing, as well as who they are communicating with through the games. Talk about the ways that strangers could be trying to communicate with them in an unsafe way and make them aware that some people may try to get personal information out of them while playing the game. Also make sure they are not exchanging pictures with adults online.

If your child is contacted by a predator and has been asked to meet in person, collect evidence, take screenshots of the conversations, report it to the platform that the communication took place on, and file a police report.

Michigan Residents Should Use Caution Making Charitable Donations, Buying Used Cars Post-Hurricane Florence

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today warned Michigan residents to use caution in making charitable donations to Hurricane Florence recovery charities and when considering purchasing used cars in the days and weeks immediately following the storm hitting the eastern seaboard.

Schuette also encouraged those with family and friends in the disaster zone to review the After Disaster Consumer Alert for post-disaster information.


Vehicles with flood damage can appear for sale on the internet or at car lots, without any mention or obvious signs of the damage. Unscrupulous sellers can quickly move cars, trucks and SUVs from flood zones, clean the outside surfaces of the vehicle and get them on the market before rust and corrosion sets in.

Water can damage vital parts of a car including airbag sensors, brakes, and electrical systems —and the damage may not show up right away. Weeks or months could pass before evidence of damage is known, putting the purchase past warranty and leaving a driver without a car.

“In Michigan we are lucky to not have to experience disaster caused by hurricanes and our thoughts are with those impacted,” said Schuette. “However, flood damaged vehicles could end up in our state, and while most auto retailers wouldn’t sell a water damaged vehicle, there are some vendors who would use this time to take advantage of the trust people have in those selling used vehicles.”


Have the vehicle inspected by an independent, competent automotive technician who has no relation to the seller.  Since water damage can be hard to spot, paying an expert mechanic for an inspection is a good idea.

Check the vehicle history. Get the VIN (vehicle identification number) and trace its history through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System database for a small fee. The National Motor Vehicle Information System is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice. Some consumers also choose to trace vehicle history using commercially available reports such as Experian’s Auto Check or CarFax. A vehicle history should tell you if the car has been in a flood region or issued a flood or salvage title. Remember though, these databases do not always have up-to-date or complete information about a vehicle (which is why the independent inspection is critical). You can also read the Consumer Alert “Beware of Buying a Flood-Damaged Vehicle” for more information.

Be on the lookout for vehicles with tell-tale signs of being submerged in water. For example:

  • Musty or “over-perfumed” smell or signs of mold or mildew;
  • Water stains, mud or residue in the trunk, under the carpet, floor mats, gas and brake pedals, and in hard-to-reach places difficult to clean;
  • Title or registration histories indicating the car was in a flood area;
  • Car hesitates, runs rough, or shows signs of premature rust or corrosion in places where you wouldn’t expect to see rust, such as the upper door hinges, trunk latches, and screws on the console.
  • Always physically inspect the vehicle’s paper title before you buy. Check to see if it has been branded as “flood,” “junk,” “salvage,” “rebuilt” or another brand indicating the vehicle was severely damaged. But beware; a clean title does not prove the car is undamaged. The title may have been ‘laundered’ across state lines or altered to conceal the brand.


Consumers should file complaints against a used motor vehicle dealer with the Secretary of State, Bureau of Information Security, Regulatory Monitoring Division online or by contacting the Bureau of Information Security, Regulatory Monitoring Division at 888-SOS-MICH (888-767-6424).


Many Michigan residents will consider donating to charities in the wake of the hurricane. The Attorney General’s office advises consumers to do research before donating and be aware of the organizations they are giving too.

Before you donate, ask the following questions:

  • To whom are you donating? Are you sure of the asker’s identity? Could it be someone masquerading as someone else?
  • How do you know that the money you donate will be spent appropriately? Public charities are subject to auditing requirements and other disclosure rules; you can also research them at various sites, including AGCharitySearch.
  • Is your intended recipient similarly transparent and accountable?
  • If donating to an individual: Is it someone that you know? Someone that you trust? Is the amount being raised reasonable or does it seem excessive? When giving to an individual, it can be difficult to know for sure that the recipient will use your donation as you intend it to be used.

Use your best judgment; if in doubt, don’t donate.


Complaints regarding charitable solicitations may be filed through the Attorney General’s online complaint form, or by mailing the Charitable Trust Section at P.O. Box 30214, Lansing, MI 48909-7714, or by emailing the Charitable Trust Section.

To assist individuals in making wise decisions regarding which charitable donations to support, Attorney General Schuette established an online searchable database for charities. The Attorney General also publishes an annual professional fundraising charitable solicitation report, available on the Attorney General website. The Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Section is also available at 517-373-1152 to answer inquiries about a charity.

Consumers may contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at:


P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Fax: 517-241-3771
Toll free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form



64 Arrested in Multi-County Child Support Sweep, Combined Back Child Support Owed is More Than $1 Million

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that 64 individuals were arrested after a multi-county child support sweep led by the Department of Attorney General’s new Child, Elder & Family Financial Crimes Division. Those arrested owe a combined total of $1,080,768.03 in back child support to 94 children.

“Thousands of Michigan children go without food, clothing or housing every day because their parent refuses to help provide for them,” said Schuette. “My team and law enforcement across the state make every effort to collect money for children before we make an arrest. These people can pay but have decided they won’t pay.  We have one goal: make life better for Michigan kids by getting them the money they need to grow up to be healthy and happy.”

The total arrearage from the sweep amounts to approximately $12,000 per child. The sweep targeted individuals who owed past due child support, and had the means to pay, but had refused to do so.

In addition to failure to pay child support, a number of individuals arrested had previous convictions for crimes such as domestic violence, criminal sexual conduct, child abuse/neglect, or other felonies.

A total of 55 individuals were arrested on Michigan Attorney General, felony child support warrants.  Another five individuals were arrested on local child support, misdemeanor bench warrants.  An additional four individuals were arrested on teletype warnings sent to out-of-state police agencies for warrant pickups.

The joint effort was led by the Department of Attorney General and took place in Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Cass, Ingham, Jackson, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties from the evening of Tuesday, September 11 through the evening on Wednesday, September 12, 2018. Local officers and Friend of the Court deputies from Jackson, Cass, Barry, Berrien and Ingham counties participated as well as the Michigan State Police assisted Attorney General investigators in the sweep.

Among those arrested by Attorney General Agents include:

  • Veronica Aldrich, Jackson County, owes $49,956.61;
  • John Green, Kalamazoo County, $49,633.05;
  • Donzell Jenkins, Kent County, $49,340.10;
  • Todd Allen, Ottawa County, $46,817, and;
  • Timothy Harget, Jackson County, $44,084.08.

All defendants are being arraigned in the respective counties and bail/bond will be set by the court.

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

State Police Reports Decrease in Traffic Fatalities During 2018 Labor Day Holiday Weekend

LANSING, MICH. The Michigan State Police (MSP) announced that preliminary reports indicate
11 people lost their lives in 11 separate traffic crashes during the 2018 Labor Day holiday weekend. During the 2017 Labor Day holiday weekend, 10 traffic crashes resulted in 15 deaths.

Restraint use was unknown in four of the fatal crashes, two fatal crashes involved alcohol and three crashes involved both pedestrians and a bicyclist. One of the fatal crashes over the weekend also involved a motorcyclist where helmet use was unknown.

“These numbers are preliminary and only reflect those fatalities reported to the MSP as of 10 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018,” stated Spl/F/Lt. Jim Flegel, State Services Bureau. “Even though there was a slight decrease in fatalities over the weekend, there are still 11 families that did not get to enjoy the holiday weekend, instead, they are grieving the loss of a loved one. The MSP continues to urge motorists to make safe driving decisions by not operating a vehicle while impaired on alcohol or drugs, avoiding distractions and risky driving behaviors and to always use proper restraints.”

The 2018 Labor Day holiday weekend ran from 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 31 through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 3, 2018.


Spl/F/Lt. Jim Flegel, State Services Bureau, 517-284-3724

Price at the Pump: Ahead of Labor Day Weekend, Schuette Warns Gas Stations Against Gouging

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today cautions Michigan drivers heading into Labor Day Weekend to be savvy consumers and be aware of potential fluctuating gas prices, noting that consumers can save money by shopping for the best prices.  Retailers are also warned against any attempt at taking advantage of Michigan consumers by gas gouging.

“Michigan consumers should not be taken advantage of during any time of year, but especially not during their last unofficial weekend of summer,” said Schuette. “I will not tolerate price gouging at the pump, we are watching and will not hesitate to take the appropriate steps of action if retailers break the law.”

Attorney General Bill Schuette’s Corporate Oversight Division works year-round to monitor the balance of wholesale and retail prices in Michigan. The Attorney General also receives and monitors complaints of this nature through Consumer Complaints filed with the office.

Under Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act, a retailer may not charge a price that is “grossly in excess of the price at which similar property or services are sold.” Anti-trust laws also prohibit gas stations from entering into agreements to arbitrarily fix prices in unison.

If consumers become aware of direct evidence of a conspiracy between companies, or have verifiable evidence of a retailer charging a price “grossly in excess of the price at which similar property of services are sold,” they are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-765-8388 or file a complaint online at

For more information on gas gouging in Michigan, see Attorney General Bill Schuette’s Consumer Alert: Increased Gas Prices? Again?.