Archive for November, 2008

Who knew the Feds were so helpful?
November 28, 2008

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up about a scam making the rounds on both the Internet and over the phone. I’ve posted one of several e-mails I received in the last week from viewers. Some viewers got this via e-mail others actually got a phone call. Here’s one e-mail I received from a viewer…
I want to report a new scam that I received two days ago by telephone.
A man called saying he was from the US Customs office asking if I was XXXXX XXXXXXX at my home address…and was I expecting a package from overseas. I advised him I was XXXXX and that I was not expecting a package.

He said that they holding a check in the amount of $250,000 and that if I wanted it I had to go down to any official government office to pay the duty in the amount of about $2,500 and then they would arrange deliver of the check that had already been reviewed by the FBI as being real checks and not fraudulent They asked if the duty fee was a problem and I said Yes…he hung up.

I just wanted to tell you to let other people not to fall for this obvious scam.

First thing, had the above viewer told the caller that paying the fee was no problem then the caller would have sweetened the deal by offering to have the check delivered to their house, instead of making them go down to a musty old government office. Con artists are so helpful. All they would have to do is give their credit card or bank account number over the phone to pay the processing fee.

Another variation of this scam came in the form of a very official looking e-mail from the FBI. The lucky devil who got this e-mail was informed they had won an international lottery and not to worry it’s perfectly legitimate because the FBI already verified the check.

OK, the FBI and US Customs wears many hats, but one thing neither agency does is randomly verify lottery winnings from foreign countries.  Especially when those winnings come from lotteries you didn’t enter.

A couple things to remember…first, NEVER, EVER reply to one of these e-mails. However, you can report the e-mail to the real FBI by logging on to www.IC3.gov. Second, if you get a phone call try to jot down the number on caller ID and send it to me. I won’t make any promises because many of these numbers may be “ghosts” (this is where a person in foreign country makes their phone number appear to come from a phone in the United States).  Of course, never give any personal information to someone over the phone calling from a company who have never heard of before. Just hang-up or if you have a mildly twisted sense of humor like I do ask the caller if they prefer boxers, briefs or going al fresco? Throws them off balance and it gives me a chuckle.

 

 

 

Advertisements

83 days, 12 hours, 45 minutes, 8 seconds and counting…..
November 26, 2008

We’ve been telling you for months the switch to Digital TV is coming February 17th, 2009. Yet, Houston remains the most unprepared city in the country when it comes to digital ready TVs. I’ve got a story running tomorrow night at ten that shows why we’re so unprepared and what you can do to make sure your TV doesn’t go dark next February. If you have any questions about DTV ask away…..

Update….

Here’s the story…http://www.click2houston.com/news/18155490/detail.html

Also, I wanted to thank Carroll for his comment. Non-English speaking viewers also make up a large chunk  of those who are not ready for the digital switch. One suggestion is to give those in your complex this number..1-866-495-1161. This is a Spanish language hotline run by the National Telecommunications Information Administration. You can also tell those in your complex to log on to www.DTV2009.gov. In the upper right hand corner there are several different language options. All a person has to do is click on one of the languages and the entire page will be translated. Carroll is also right about $20 being a lot money for people on a fixed income. If those in your complex are having trouble have them log on to www.volunteerhouston.org or if they don’t have a computer they can call 713-964-0220 or 713-964-0221 to see if they qualify for a free box. Plus, Carroll caught my goof…the expiration date for the coupon is on the front, not the back.

Playing Hooky
November 25, 2008

Coming to a school district near you?

Coming to a school district near you?

One of the things I do in my never-ending quest for story ideas is to scan requests to the Texas Attorney General Office for opinions on points of law. Yes, I know I need a social life. Most of these requests revolve around procedural matters or whether a certain government body has the authority to do one thing or another. Most of it is pretty bland, but this week one request caught my eye. The Brazos County Attorney (Bryan/College Station area) is asking whether a Justice of the Peace has the authority to order a chronically truant student to wear an ankle monitoring bracelet. This piqued my interest because ankle monitoring bracelets are usually used for people who are considered flight risks, high risk sex offenders, those under house arrest or anyone under some type of court ordered monitoring. Brazos County Justice of the Peace Tommy Munoz announced plans to institute this punishment for students who are chronically truant. No, not the kids who skip a day or two to head to lake Somerville, but those who reguarly skip school and are affiliated with a gang, have a history of behavior problems, etc. According to the Judge’s news release the bracelets would monitor students’ exact whereabouts 24/7. However, the program is now on hold while the County waits on a ruling from the AG’s Office. The reason for the request is because Justices of the Peace have authority over those crimes punishable by fines only. Skipping school is a Class C misdemeanor, basically the same as a speeding ticket. So ordering a kid to wear a monitoring bracelet goes well beyond a fine, hence the request for an opinion. I did a little digging and it turns out this is not a new idea. Bexar County and Midland County already launched pilot programs this year. Both Counties report the monitoring bracelets have, so far, led to a big reduction in chronically truant students cutting class. However, if the AG determines Justices of the Peace do not have the authority to order students to wear monitoring bracelets then the programs will have to stop. If the AG goes the other way then this type of monitoring could start popping up in more places. With that in mind I checked around Harris County. HISD’s acting Press Secretary, Norm Uhl, says no one in the District has floated the idea. I then checked with Harris County Justice of the Peace Dale Gorczynski, he handles A LOT of juvenile cases. Officials with Judge’s Office say he is not too keen on the idea and rejected as too controversial and burdensome. I’m curious what you think about 24/7 monitoring of chronically truant kids.

Request for AG opinion from Brazos County: http://www.oag.state.tx.us/opinions/opinions/50abbott/rq/2008/pdf/RQ0762GA.pdf

 

Weapons of Mass Distraction
November 19, 2008

Hello everyone and welcome to my new blog. This is the place where I will help you cut through all the scams and urban legends clogging or inboxes, mailboxes and voicemails. Let’s face it, we’re all “digi-nauts” cruising through cyberspace and at one time or another we’re bound to hit an asteroid. This is where I come in…send me all those bizzare e-mails from charitable members of the Royal Family to the best friend you didn’t know you had but is willing to make rich just as long you hand over the number to your bank account. And don’t for get the e-mails that start with ‘I have a friend who says he talked to his aunt who heard from her cousin’s best friend who knows a cop who says terrorists are now using perfume as a way to steal purses from little old ladies’. The stranger the better. I’ll also keep you posted on stories I’m working on and provide some extra tid-bits that I just can’t squeeze into one broadcast. From time to time I’ll also ask for your help on some of my stories. With that, let the floodgates open….. Oh, almost forgot you can always e-mail me at rarnold@kprc.com.