News Live 365: February 14th, 2018

Text Message of Naked Child Being Investigated by State Troopers

Pennsylvania State Police, Franklin 
In Venango County state Troopers have found themselves involved in an investigation into suspected child pornography. A nude photograph of a child was sent along with a racy text message to Cranberry Township resident who took their phone to State Troopers. The communication history between the sender and receiver are being investigated.

 

Authorities Investigate Child Sex Abuse at Catholic Church

Cambridge Springs Police Department
The Cambridge Springs Police Department along with the Crawford County District Attorney’s office are investigating the alleged sexual abuse of a minor in the by a priest at a Catholic Church. The police named Reverend David Poulson of St. Anthony of Padua Church as the focus on their investigation and the Erie Diocese has disallowed him to practice public ministry or have any contact with children while the investigation moves forward.

 

Governor Vetoes Redistricted Map After Experts Weigh In

Radio PA
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has exercised his veto power to reject the newest electoral map of Pennsylvania and put the job of drawing new maps in the hands of the supreme court. After consulting with experts and reviewing the last minute submission from Republican Legislative Leaders Wolf followed the recommendations to veto the map for still favoring republicans.

 

Man Killed in Single Car Crash

Pennsylvania State Police, Meadville
A West Virginia man was killed in a car crash outside the town of Linesville in Crawford County Monday morning. The man was identified as 66 year old Charles Orr of Follansbee West Virginia. He was killed when he lost control on State Route 6 and collided head on into a tree by the side of the road.

 

Man, Teen Both Charged with Assault after Wrestling Match Gone Awry

Pennsylvania State Police, Franklin
A wrestling match between an adult and a teenager has lead to assault charges against both. Travis Strawbridge and a 15 year old teen male were having a consensual wrestling contest when they were both injured after tempers flared and the match escalated into a brawl. Both Strawbridge and the teen were charged with simple assault.

 

Beware Scammers Posing as IRS Agents

Press office of Attorney General Josh Shapiro
Tax season for honest citizens is IRS scam season for dishonest citizens. A press release from the Office of PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro lists several ways to know when a scammer tries to pose as an IRS agent and here are but a few. IRS Agents will not use aggressive or threatening tactics to get immediate payment, they will not demand a specific means for payment, and they also will not contact you through text, email, or social media about tax issues. A transcript of the entire message follows:

As tax season gets underway, Attorney General Josh Shapiro is warning consumers about fraudulent calls and scams from criminals impersonating IRS agents – and telling recipients they need to send money right away or risk arrest by the IRS.

“Scam artists are always looking for ways to steal from consumers – and during tax season, impersonating the IRS and trying to scare you into paying them thousands of dollars becomes a popular tactic,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “My Office is here to protect you, help you avoid being scammed, and go after these scammers anywhere we find them.”

One recent victim of the IRS scam is Michelle Albitz, of Barto, Berks County.  Albitz said someone called, said he was from the IRS, that she owed thousands of dollars in back taxes – and that agents were waiting outside her home to arrest her if she did not pay her “tax debt” immediately. Albitz withdrew more than $10,000 from her bank, and as instructed by the thieves, went to retail stores, purchased gift cards – and read the gift card information over the phone to the scam artists.

“I was petrified when someone called me, saying they were from the IRS and demanded money or else I would go to jail,” Albitz said. “They scammed me out of more than $10,000. I learned not to answer the phone — unless I recognize the number. I’m grateful Attorney General Shapiro and his Bureau of Consumer Protection are stepping up to protect consumers like myself.”

Attorney General Shapiro and his Bureau of Consumer Protection offered a series of tips for consumers to help avoid being scammed:

  • The IRS does not use threatening or aggressive calls. A scammer may threaten to involve the police, immigration officers or other law enforcement if you do not pay promptly. The IRS will not do that.
  • The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text or social media, especially contact seeking personal financial information.
  • Do not trust the number you see on your caller ID, even if it appears to be coming from the IRS. Scam artists increasingly use a technique known as spoofing to trick caller ID into thinking the call is originating from a certain phone number.
  • Do not give out personal information over the phone. Do not provide information over the phone, even if the caller claims to be from the IRS or your bank.
  • The IRS does not require taxpayers to use a specific method of payment such as a pre-paid debit card, money order, wire transfer, gift cards or cash.

The Bureau of Consumer Protection recommends an acronym to evaluate unsolicited phone calls or emails:

  • S: Sudden – The call or email is unexpected;
  • C: Contact – Scammers will contact you by phone, email or in-person;
  • A: Act Now – The request will be urgent and assert penalties if you do not act quickly;
  • M: Money or Information – The scammer will request money or personal information.

Attorney General Shapiro also encouraged consumers to be wary of pursuing tax refund anticipation checks. These offers may seem like quick, easy money, but the companies offering them charge high interest rates and exorbitant fees off the full refund the taxpayer earned.

Pennsylvania consumers who feel they have been victimized by the IRS or other scams should file a complaint with the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling 800-441-2555 or emailingscams@attorneygeneral.gov.

“With new technologies available like spoofing, it is more important than ever for people to be aware of these scam tactics and know the best way to protect themselves from being victimized,” Attorney General Shapiro said.

Last year, Attorney General Shapiro testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on the rising threat to consumers – particularly senior citizens – from spoofed robocalls.  Attorney General Shapiro and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) sent a letter to the FCC, urging it to pass a rule allowing telephone companies to block robocalls and spoofed calls. Earlier, Attorney General Shapiro and 28 other attorneys general filed comments with the FCC urging similar action.  In November, the FCC finalized new rules allowing phone companies to block these calls.