FLINT, Michigan (WJRT) - (02/08/2019) - A Flint man, accused of impersonating a Michigan State Police officer, is now facing four felony charges.
It all began when a Florida teen responded to a posting for a remote-controlled boat for sale on Facebook.
Hunter Hamilton and his mom said this began last September when the teen, who was 14 at the time, spotted a remote control boat, just like this one, for sale on a Facebook group he belonged to.
He said he messaged the man selling it, thinking it was a good deal. He then sent him more than $375 dollars, on a prepaid gift card through Pay Pal.
Hamilton said the day he said he was going to ship it, the man told him he had a problem with the shipping.
"So he sent me a video, " Hamilton explained, "of him saying and driving in a state police officer car and I believed him, I thought he was a police officer, I didn't really think much of him not being able to ship it that day."
The 15- year old from Sanford, FL said he became suspicious when the man, who had told him he was from Flint, blocked him on messenger.
"It was really sad because I worked really hard for the money," said Hamilton, "I would go out and cut yards everyday after school to make money."
Hamilton messaged Michigan State Police, thinking he had been taken advantage one of their officers. That was not the case.
"It was someone posing as a state police officer using one our vehicles," said Lt. Duane Zook with Michigan State Police.
38-year old Jason Inman is accused using an MSP patrol SUV, while it was being serviced at his place of employment in Lapeer.
'This individual gained access to the vehicle because he was a mechanic at one of the local facilities," Zook said, "and used the state police car as far as videotaping it with his phone."
Police arrested Inman on Thursday, February 7th and Friday he was charged with four felony counts, including impersonating a Peace Officer to commit a crime.
He's also facing a misdemeanor charge, larceny by false pretenses. Police said Inman is a habitual offender.
Hamilton's mom says this has been a tough lesson for her son who's now out $375 dollars:
"I'm not going to do anything over the internet ever again," Hamilton said, "I'm going to stay with my local people, and have my parents meet up with them."
Good advice according to police and the Better Business Bureau.
Troy Baker with the BBB of Western Michigan said it's always better to make a transaction in person, in a safe public place such as a police station. If you do live out-of-state and buy something online, he said use a credit card so that you have a way to dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
In the meantime, Michigan State Police say they take impersonating an officer very seriously:
"As far as impersonating a police officer, that is something that is huge, absolutely huge," he said.
If Inman was not accused of using an MSP patrol car, Zook said he may have only been facing a misdemeanor charge.