PHONE SCAMS ON THE RISE AS TAX DEADLINE LOOMS

CHICAGO (WLS) — A warning for taxpayers as tax day approaches: Some scam artists are using phone calls to try and take your money.

Thousands of complaints are pouring into government offices just days before the April 15 tax deadline.

The Federal Trade Commission says it gets about 10,000 complaints a month – and that’s just one agency.

The IRS fraudsters are using spoofing technology and blocked calls to steal your money. But there are ways to catch the person on the other line.

A viewer recorded and shared a scam call with the ABC 7 I-Team; it’s one of thousands of IRS scam calls hitting the Chicago area and nationwide. During the call, a woman demands money after claiming that back taxes were owed. Consumer protection groups say it’s getting worse during tax season.

“I got a blocked call from someone who was claiming to be the IRS and was talking to me trying to get me to pay him some money over the phone and was threatening me that if I did not pay it, they would press charges. And I would be arrested,” said Mordy Siegal, who received the call.

Siegal says he used technology from a service called Trap Call to uncover his blocked number and prove that the fake IRS call was coming from New Jersey.

“He told me he was out of Cleveland and the call was coming out of New Jersey so I knew it was a fraud,” Siegal said.

A Trap Call basic plan will run you $4.95 a month. There are also other technologies that advertise similar, free services.

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Panama City Beach Clubs Confiscate Hundreds of Fake IDs Every Night

PANAMA CITY BEACH– Every year thousands of spring breakers come to Panama City Beach to party at the clubs and bars, and every year, thousands of fake IDs are taken away. In fact, Club La Vela confiscates more fake IDs than any other nightclub in Florida. Newschannel 7′s Kelly Baumgarten sat down with the La Vela security team earlier today and found out how to tell a real ID from a fake.

Fake IDs are not new. Teens across the country spend big bucks to get their hands on a phony drivers license, but during spring break in Panama City Beach, security crews for clubs seize hundreds every night.

“Every person that comes up the door if we take their ID from them they wanna argue about it and say it’s real and it’s them and then we end up having to get law enforcement involved,” said Paul Winterman, Director of Customer Service at Club La Vela.

These are just some of the fake IDs that Club La Vela has confiscated in the past few weeks. In fact, club employees estimate that in the month of March alone they’ve confiscated more than 2000 fake IDs.

“It’s a big club sometimes you’ve got 4000 people coming through the door and everybody tries to use a fake ID and drink in the club,” said Winterman

Paul Winterman has been working on La Vela’s security team for 16 years and he’s also a former detective. He says there are a lot of ways to spot a fake.

“You can tell by holograms anything that sells seal of authenticity or has a key on it its fake”

Members of La Vela’s security team say if you bend an id and it creases, it’s almost always a fake.

“They get the holograms right, but they don’t get the glue right. The font’s never correct, the color’s always wrong. Kids are paying for them online they’re buying $120 $130 for two of them and we tend to spot them in the first 30 seconds,” said Philip Trivett, head of security at Club La Vela.

But Winterman says identifying a phony id doesn’t come easy to everyone.

“A lot of people will want to work the door, but when it comes down to it there’s a knack to it. Some people got the knack to catch the IDs, some people don’t. So we go through a lot of people training and end up having to put them in other positions other than the door because they’re not capable of doing the job.”

La Vela employees say officers with the Division of Florida Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco are on site 60% of the time during spring break. If the club spots a fake ID, the ABT will fine the person because it’s spring break. Any other time, possession of a fake ID would be a felony,

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Man tried to lure 2 girls with candy on West Side

Police are looking for a man who tried to lure two girls with candy Thursday afternoon in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side.

A 9-year-old girl and her 6-year-old sister were walking out of Hay Elementary Community Academy, at 1018 N. Laramie Ave., around 4:45 p.m. after finishing their after-school program when they saw a black man standing next to a white van, according to an alert from the Chicago Police Department.

The man said: “Hi girls, do you want some candy?”

The two girls then came back inside the school and notified school personnel about the incident, according to the alert.

The man had left by the time school officials had gone outside.

The suspect is a black man wearing a black hat, black hooded sweatshirt, black pants and sunglasses. The man was described as tall and his age was unknown, the alert said.

Anyone with information about the suspect or the incident should call Area North detectives at (312) 744-8266.

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US immigration officers arrest 2,059 criminals in sweep

U.S. immigration officers arrested 2,059 convicted criminal aliens in a five-day operation, the Department of Homeland Security said on Monday.

Those arrested are subject to being removed from the United States, and more than 1,000 have multiple criminal convictions, the department said in a statement.

The sweep, called “Cross Check,” started March 1 and ended March 5. It was the sixth such operation since May 2011, the statement said.

More than 1,000 of those arrested were convicted of felonies, including voluntary manslaughter, child pornography, robbery, kidnapping and rape.

Those arrested include 58 known gang members or affiliates and 89 convicted sex offenders. Most of the misdemeanor convictions were for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the statement said.

The detained foreign nationals who do not face U.S. prosecution will be processed for deportation, it said, without giving a breakdown of the nationalities of those arrested.

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Security officers rescue kidnapped girl at hotel

Toronto Canada March 4 2015 Three people are each facing 10 charges after they allegedly held a 14-year-old girl captive in a hotel and forced her into prostitution.

On Feb. 27, hotel security officers in the Bay St. and Dundas St. W. area responded to a noise complaint, and went to a room where they found a girl who had allegedly been confined there for a week.

The girl’s belongings, including her cell phone, were taken from her and the phone in the hotel room was disabled, say police.

The accused allegedly advertised sexual services online and arranged for the girl to meet with clients. She was forced to perform sexual services and hand over any money she made to her captors, police said.

The same day security officers found the girl, Toronto police’s Sex Crimes Human Trafficking Enforcement Team arrested two men and a woman.

Toronto residents Sage Finestone, 21, and Nicholas Faria, 19, as well as 18-year-old Natasha Robataille, of no fixed address, are each facing 10 charges, including forcible confinement, trafficking a person under 18, advertising another person’s sexual services, as well as a number of other trafficking offences.

The 14-year-old girl is safe at home with her family, but police believe there may be more victims.

Anyone with information is asked to call 416-808-7400 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).

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Bill would authorize ‘deadly force’ for Texas teachers

AUSTIN – A Texas lawmaker says it’s time to protect teachers who stand up to unruly students, but he’s filed a bill that would authorize deadly force.

“One of the concerns they have is the lack of discipline in their classroom,” said state Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Canton), who believes teachers already have enough to worry about.

He says unruly students don’t just endanger the learning environment, but teachers and other students as well, citing recent instances of teachers being physically assaulted in their own classroom.

“From time to time, they do attack our teachers, and if a teacher even raises up her hand to defend herself, or he raises his hand up and defends himself, he finds he could be either sued or lose their job,” Flynn said. “I want to be able to protect those teachers.”

Flynn is the author of House Bill 868, which states “an educator is justified in using force or deadly force on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored event in defense of the educator’s person or in defense of students of the school that employs the educator,” as well as “in defense of property of the school that employs the educator.”

“When a teacher told me to sit down and behave, we did it,” said Flynn. “We are living in a different age right now, and the teachers are reluctant to be able to do that because there is such an effort on the part of many to blame them.”

Some 80 Texas school districts have policies allowing either teachers or staff to carry firearms, but Flynn is emphatic guns have nothing to do with his bill. While it doesn’t mention them, it doesn’t exclude them either.

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Multiple States Mull Passage of Campus Concealed Carry Legislation

Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Wyoming, Indiana, Colorado, Montana and Nevada are considering passage of laws allowing college students or K-12 staff and teachers to carry concealed firearms on campus.

In Texas, Senate Bill 11 from Republican state Sen. Brian Birdwell and House Bill 937 from Republican state Rep. Allen Fletcher would allow students, faculty, visitors and staff to carry their guns anywhere on campus, including classrooms, libraries and student unions, reports the Dallas Morning News.

Florida politicians are once again is also considering allowing concealed guns at state colleges and universities despite a similar bill being defeated recently, reports Wink News. The new bill, HB 4005, was prompted by a shooting on the campus of Florida State University last fall.

In Arkansas, if House Bill 1077 passes, universities will no longer have the right to opt out of a law allowing faculty to carry concealed weapons, reports the Arkansas Traveler.

Wyoming Republican Rep. Allen Jaggi has sponsored House Bill 114 that would repeal the state’s gun-free zones act, reports the Washington Free Beacon. Last week, the bill was approved by the House Judiciary Committee, so it will now go to the House floor.

Indiana is considering passage of HB 1143, which would allow concealed weapons on college campuses, and Montana has introduced Senate Bill 143, which would prohibit colleges from regulating or restricting the possession of firearms on university property.

In Colorado, Republican Rep. Patrick Neveille, who is a former student of Columbine High School who survived the 1999 attack, has introduced a bill allowing anyone with a concealed carry permit to carry firearms in public schools, reports BearingArms.com. Neville’s bill is one of several introduced in the Colorado legislature. Most of the proposed legislation in Colorado is not expected to pass.

The Montana state Senate this week narrowly endorsed a bill that would allow people to carry concealed guns on college campuses, reports the Great Falls Tribune. Bill 143 would, with some exceptions, prohibit restrictions on firearms on state university property. School regents would still be able to regulate gun possession at campus events where alcohol is served or in dorms if a roommate objects to a gun being in his or her room.

The Nevada legislature is considering a bill that would allow firearms to be stored in a car on the grounds of any day care center or public, private or college campus as long as the vehicle is occupied, locked or if the gun is kept in a storage container, reports the Elko Daily Free Press. Similar legislation didn’t pass in 2013 but could face less opposition this time.

A study conducted by Campus Safety magazine last fall concluded that nearly three out of four campus protection professionals oppose college students being allowing to carry concealed guns on campus.

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Police radar could detect texting while driving

We’re all familiar with the radar guns that police use to catch and ticket speeding drivers. But the next stage of that technology is now poised to nab drivers who are engaged in a behavior that’s possibly even more dangerous: texting behind the wheel.

A Virginia-based company called ComSonics is developing a new type of radar gun that can actually detect whether text message radio frequencies are being emitted from passing cars. According to The Virginian-Pilot, ComSonics says the device is “close to production.”

Virginia is one of 44 U.S. states that has a ban on texting while driving.

As the topic of distracted driving continues to gain nationwide attention, ComSonics isn’t the only company attempting to create at technology designed to temper it.

Third-party apps for Android and iOS, like DriveScribe and DriveOFF, detect when your car is moving and will block all incoming notifications on your phone. And an activity-reporting app called Canary can be installed on young drivers’ phones to let parents know when their kids are calling or texting while driving.

Apple itself has been sitting on a filed patent for a “driver handheld computing device lock-out” to keep iPhone owners from texting while on the road. As for when or how exactly this feature would be rolled out to iOS or the company’s new CarPlay system, that’s anyone’s guess.

It’s yet to be determined whether law enforcement in Virginia or anywhere else will adopt ComSonics’ texting-detection gadget. Whether it pans out or doesn’t, the best advice we can give would be to keep your eyes open and on the road. Slow down and put the phone down.

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State approves 1,000 for medical pot; drug access remains months away

The number of approved medical marijuana patients in Illinois has reached about 1,000, officials announced Wednesday.

While the number remains far below initial projections, it’s a noticeable increase from 650 one month ago.

“Some people may be waiting until the product is actually available,” Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said.

That earlier number was “terrifying” for medical marijuana business owners, said Mark Passerini, president of the Illinois Cannabis Industry Association, who had said it’s not a sustainable business unless more patients sign up.

About 14,000 people have registered to begin the patient application process for medical cannabis since the state began accepting applications last fall. Of those, about 2,100 have submitted at least part of the application.

To qualify, patients must have one of about three dozen specified medical conditions, and they must fill out a written application with a doctor’s recommendation and fingerprints to pass a criminal background check.

The most commonly cited conditions initially included cancer, severe fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries, officials said.

Most of the licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana in Illinois were just issued Monday after an extensive application and vetting process. Business owners said it will take time to prepare their sites and about four months to grow the first crop.

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DEA Contemplated Mass Surveillance of Gun Show Attendees

Recent revelations about a proposed federal law enforcement program might have some friends and families drawing lots to decide who drives to the next gun show.

Criminals rarely obtain guns from gun shows. A Department of Justice survey of state and federal inmates, found that only 0.7 percent of those polled had acquired a firearm that they possessed at the time of their offense from a gun show. Unfortunately, this didn’t stop at least one federal official from suggesting that the sophisticated tools of the modern surveillance state be turned on unsuspecting gun show attendees.

Documents obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal that, in 2009, the Drug Enforcement Administration contemplated using License Plate Readers (LPRs) to track vehicle traffic from gun shows. A highly redacted email from an unknown DEA official suggests the program was past infancy, and stated, “DEA Phoenix Division Office is working closely with ATF on attacking the guns going to [redacted] and the guns shows to include programs/operation with LPRs at the gun shows.”

ACLU correctly points out the danger of such technology in an article on their website, explaining, “An automatic license plate reader cannot distinguish between people transporting illegal guns and those transporting legal guns, or no guns at all; it only documents the presence of any car driving to the event. Mere attendance at a gun show, it appeared, would have been enough to have one’s presence noted in a DEA database.”

The proposed program is even more disturbing when placed into the larger context of the Justice Department’s ongoing general license plate tracking program. A January 26 article from the Wall Street Journal explains the broad contours of DOJ LPR surveillance. The piece states, “The Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists.” The authors go on to explain the wide availability of the collected data, writing, “Many state and local law-enforcement agencies are accessing the database for a variety of investigations… putting a wealth of information in the hands of local officials who can track vehicles in real time on major roadways.” They further note that this national database “allows any police agency that participates to quickly search records of many states for information about a vehicle.”

According to a January 27 Wall Street Journal article focusing specifically on the gun show surveillance proposal, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart told the paper, “The proposal in the email was only a suggestion. It was never authorized by DEA, and the idea under discussion in the email was never launched.” Further, the article stated that DOJ officials were quick to deny any BATFE involvement in the LPR scheme. However, as has been made clear by the events of the last two years, public statements by federal officials regarding the scope of federal surveillance activities should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

DEA’s proposed indiscriminate gun show surveillance places an unacceptable burden on the privacy of law-abiding citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights and even smacks of firearm registration. Further, such tactics infringe upon rights protected by the First Amendment. Gun shows are far more than just shopping opportunities for gun buyers. They are also community gatherings that often serve as venues for political expression and organizing. As such, they are subject to the First Amendment’s rights of freedom of association and to peaceably assemble and should be free from government activity that could chill free and open participation.

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