Crawford County, Michigan – According to authorities, 20 year old Ron Vradenburg pretended to be a Michigan State Police undercover officer and a Marine on social media, taking thousands of dollars from young women. He created an online persona a Veteran named Josh Horvath on Facebook in the summer of 2014. He did this by using a picture he found, and telling women online that he needed money to help fund his undercover operation.
“The case involves somebody catfishing, is the term that’s out there on social media,” Detective Lieutenant Jeff Keister, Michigan State Police STING unit commander, said. “This person created an online identity.” He took more than $10,000 from unsuspecting victims during his scheme, and he would pretend to be his fake person’s cousin when he met people in person.
It wasn’t until one of those victims came to Ayer’s office and asked about this undercover operation, only to find that Ayers never heard of a Josh Horvath, prompting investigators to track down Vradenburg.
“Be aware of who you’re dealing with on social media sites,” Ayers said. “In general, who you’re talking to, texting, you never know who’s on the other end of the line.”
“We want to let victims know not to be embarrassed to come forward,” Ayers said. “Anybody can get scammed or conned at any time. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. But, if anybody’s had any contact with Mr. Vradenburg who is posed as Mr. Horvath or Josh Horvath on Facebook, we urge those people to come forward.”
He is currently in the Crawford County Jail on charges of computer to commit a crime, false pretenses, and impersonating a police officer. Ayers and Lt. Keister ask if there are any more victims, to come forward and call the prosecutor’s office directly at 989-344-3246.