You may look around and think
that there is just too much crime around us. And you might think that you want
to get a gun to protect yourself. Here are some things to think about if you
are considering purchasing a gun for protection:
IRS Scam in the mail. Earlier this month I talked about an IRS scam
that sent emails purportedly from the IRS. The email claimed to be a CP2000
notice and claimed that the person receiving it owed taxes under the Affordable
Care Act (http://ssnoccrimewatch.blogspot.com/2016/10/irs-scam-from-telephone-to-email.html).
The AARP Fraud Watch Network says that
this bogus notice is now being sent via the U.S. Postal Service. Up to now, IRS
scammers have not used the mail to extract money from victims. The IRS still
exclusively uses the U.S. mail for initial contacts with taxpayers. With this
scam now in the mails, if you receive a notice from the IRS, take some extra
time to examine it. Some tip offs that this notice is not genuine are:
·In the case of a CP2000 notice, the IRS would
not claim that you owe a specific amount. It would give you a phone number to
call to resolve a discrepancy that it has found in income or payment
information that has been reported by your employer and information that you
reported on your tax return.
·When you pay your federal income tax or late
penalties or fees, you pay the US Treasury, not the IRS.
·The IRS does not have you send mail to a post
office box, they have you send mail directly to an IRS address.
Results of Arrests of Mumbai, India Scammers. Earlier this month,
the mass arrest of IRS scammers in Mumbai, India made the news. The scammers,
from call centers, would call victims threatening financial penalties, lawsuits
and arrests if they did not pay back taxes right away. The Better Business
Bureau (BBB) reports that it has seen a dramatic reduction in reports from
consumers of this IRS scam. It says that in a typical week, its BBB Scam
Tracker receives about 200 reports of the scam. Since the mass arrests in
India, it has only received 11 reports of the IRS scam in the past week. That
is almost a 95% decrease.
Fake “Referendum” Scam. According to the Better Business Bureau, a
letter to senior citizens is going around the country claiming that Congress is
trying to end Social Security and the organization that sent the letter needs a
donation from you, by check or credit card, to fight for Social Security. The
organization says that it is sending a referendum nationwide to keep Social
·This notice is an attempt to scare you into
action. To put you under the “either” as a scammer would put it. And seniors
are an especially vulnerable target because many rely on their Social Security
payments for their daily living needs.
·The request for a check or your credit card
information opens you to identity theft.
·The letter talks about a referendum campaign in
“counties across America.” This is nonsensical language because we do not
conduct national referenda. Referenda are conducted at the local and state
level for local and state issues.
Credit Report Scams. If you need help with sorting out your debt,
you may look for help from a credit repair company. However, many credit repair
companies use confusing or misleading advertising to bring in customers.
Here are some red flags to steer
·Companies that demand payment up front.
·Deals that sound too good to be true.
·Companies with representatives who cannot answer
·Companies that hold back or provide misinformation.
·Companies that ask you to misrepresent information.
Disposing of un-needed or unused prescription drugs is
important to reducing drug overdoses and drug addiction. Saturday is a National
Prescription Take Bake Day. Between 10:00am and 2:00pm you can take your un-needed,
expired or unused prescription drugs to:
Mountlake Terrace Police Department
5906 232nd St SW
Mountlake Terrace, WA 98043
For more information about National
Drug Take Back Day and disposing of prescription drugs in general go to:
The Mill Creek Police Department
has announced that on Tuesday, October 18, a set of master keys was stolen from
a mail carrier. The keys were for mailboxes in the 98012 and 98021 zip codes.
The police department received reports of stolen mail from community mailboxes
in neighborhoods and apartment complexes in the City on Wednesday.
As of Thursday morning, the
perpetrators are still at large. The police department says that it is working
with other local police agencies to identify and find the suspects.
The Mill Creek Police Department
asks for your help until they can apprehend the suspect(s) by being extra
vigilant about mail delivery and pick:
·Take your outgoing mail to the post office or
put it in a secure, non-communal mailbox.
·Pick up your mail as soon as possible, and definitely
·Be aware of anyone around blue drop boxes or
community mailboxes that do not appear to be postal employees or customers.
·Call 911 if you see any activity that you think
is suspicious or inappropriate.
The police department reminds
everyone that only postal employees are authorized to have access to the inside
of the blue drop boxes or the community mailboxes.
Recently, I wrote about October
being Domestic Violence Awareness month (http://ssnoccrimewatch.blogspot.com/2016/10/domestic-violence-october-is-domestic.html). October is also Cyber Security
Cyber (computer) security is
important for you as an individual as much as it is important for our nation,
big business, small business, or for local government. Poor cyber security
makes all of us susceptible to identity theft, scams, fraud as well as industrial
espionage, espionage against our government or other mischief.
The effects on victims of
identity theft, are revealed in the latest survey, “Identity Theft: The
Aftermath 2016™” published by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC):
·55% of ID theft victims reported missing time
from work, 44% reported losing out on an employment opportunity, and 29%
reported that they had to request government help in the form of welfare, EBT,
food stamps, etc.
·New account fraud, including opening new credit
cards, utility accounts and cellular phone service, was reported by 60% of
survey respondents, up by 6% from last year.
·Survey respondents reported that victimization
manifest itself through stress (74%) and anxiety (60%)
The National Cyber Security
has been making the public aware of what they can do to protect their computers
through its Stop Think Connect campaign. It recommends:
·Keep a Clean Machine
oKeep your security software current to defend
against viruses, malware and other online threats.
oAutomate software updates by turning on
automatic updates in the settings of your software and operating systems. Then
you do not have to keep remembering to update your system.
oProtect all devices that connect to the
internet. This includes computers, smart phones, gaming systems, etc.
oWhen you plug in USB’s or other external devices
into your computer, scan them for viruses and malware.
·Protect your personal information
oSecure your accounts. Ask for protection beyond
passwords. Look for techniques such as two factor authentication.
oMake passwords long and strong by combining
capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols.
oUse a different password for each of your
oWrite it down and keep it safe. Keep a list of
your passwords on paper, in a safe or other, secure place or in an electronic,
privacy settings of websites and services so that you limit who can see your
·Connect with care
oBe careful of links and attachments in your
email, tweets, posts and websites. Be sure you know who originated the email,
etc. before clicking on any link. Links are a primary way that cybercriminals
use to deliver malware to compromise your computer.
oWhen using Wi-Fi hotspots to connect to the
internet, limit your use to non-sensitive activities. Do not connect to your
financial institution’s web site or conduct online shopping through a Wi-Fi
oProtect your accounts. When connecting to a
financial institution or a shopping website, be sure the website is encrypted
with a web address that starts with https://.
Car prowlers look everywhere for
cars with purses, wallets, tablet computers. And according to recent press
reports, even weddings.
The press reports have been
talking about a series of car prowls at wedding venues in the Snohomish area. In
at least one of the car prowls, the thieves use stolen credit cards at a Fred
Meyer, Walmart and Safeway later that night.
A Sheriff’s Office spokesman has
noted that they see more car break-ins when car prowlers think a driver will be
away from their vehicle for a long period of time, such as at a mall, in a
residential driveway overnight, or at an event such as a wedding or even a
funeral. Burglars have also been known to break into homes when they know that
the owners are at a funeral.
The spokesman reminded everyone
to lock doors and roll up and lock windows. Also not to have anything showing
in your vehicle when you park it. You can also help reduce the risk of becoming
a victim to a car prowl or burglary by being careful of what you post on social
media, such as when you would be attending a wedding, funeral, or going on
Here are two pictures of a
vehicle and two males associated with the stolen credit cards, courtesy of
KING-TV. If you know who these suspects are or have any information about car
prowls in the Snohomish area, please call the Snohomish Sheriff’s Office’s
Anonymous Tip Line at (425) 388-3845.
I have received a report of at
least one more Snohomish County resident receiving a call from a tech scammer.
The call was made by a man with a
slight Indian accent who said that he was calling from Redmond. He claimed that
the person answering the phone had submitted an error report from their
computer. He said that he needed some information or else they would lose their
computer. He wanted the potential victim to get onto their computer and follow
When asked who he worked for, the
man hedged. He said that he did not work for Microsoft, but that his company
The person answering the phone
quickly concluded this was a scam and hung up.
The potential victim observed:
caller ID on their phone said “unknown name, unknown number.” A legitimate company
would have displayed their true phone number.
had not submitted an error report. And, Microsoft, of they had contacted them,
would not have to ask for their system information. Microsoft already collects
technical information about the computers that runs its Windows operating
system. You can cut off that information if you do not want Microsoft to get
would not call. If there is any response, it would be via email.
If you receive a call from a tech
support scammer, you can report them to:
When Joseph Peralta was arrested
for stabbing his girlfriend in a Lynnwood Rite Aid, he had several felony
convictions, including stalking, domestic violence and assault. Prosecutors
charged him with first-degree domestic violence assault for the September 18
attack. (The Herald: http://www.heraldnet.com/news/stabbing-suspect-says-he-doesnt-remember-attacking-girlfriend/).
This incident shows an ugly face of a
crime that often does not receive a lot of attention.
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that someone uses
to gain power and control over an intimate partner. Domestic violence can
include physical, emotional or sexual abuse. It can happen to anyone, no matter
social status, income, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
While anyone can be the victim of domestic violence, the
fast majority of victims who report domestic violence are female.
Nationwide, 24 people per minute are victims of rape,
physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner. One in 4 women have been
the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. One in 7 men
have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner. A woman is
far more likely to be killed by her spouse, an intimate acquaintance, or a
family member than by a stranger.
Some warning signs of domestic violence are:
·Blaming others for problems
Victims can face several barriers to seeking help including
fear of injury, shaming and self-blame, lack of money, resources and support,
and social pressures to “keep the family together.”
There are things that you can do to prevent domestic
violence or help someone who is being abused:
·Educate yourself about domestic violence.
·Help a friend or family member who is being
Scammers often quickly change
their methods when old methods don’t work as well and to take advantage of new
vulnerabilities. The IRS has announced that scammers who have been posing as
IRS agents on the phone are moving to email with fake, although very convincing
“bills,” from the IRS.
The email claims that the person
receiving the email owes more in taxes because of the Affordable Car Act
provisions. The letter asks you to send a check to the IRS at a post office box
There are several things wrong
about this email:
IRS will not email bills to you. Any correspondence will be by US mail. And
according to IRS special agent Ryan Thompson, “You’re not going to have the
exact bill. It’s not going to say, hey, pay this thing right now. It gives you
a process to follow up with the IRS.”
you pay your federal income tax or late penalties or fees, you pay the US
Treasury, not the IRS.
IRS does not have you send mail to a post office box, they have you send mail
directly to an IRS address.
So far scammers have made $47
million from this scam nationwide. One million of that in the State of
Be careful of any email. If you
receive an email that looks like an IRS scam, the IRS asks that you forward it
to email@example.com, then delete the
email from your inbox.
The following link shows a sample
of the email and has an interview with special agent Thompson:
Most scammers are based outside
of the US borders, so it is difficult for our law enforcement agencies to
apprehend and prosecute them. This story, however, talks about the arrest of 70
IRS scammers in India who were targeting Americans:
·Cocoon House, http://www.cocoonhouse.org/. Cocoon
House provides outreach to young people between 12-24 years old. It provides
short and long term house for homeless young people between 12-17 years old.
And it provides phone consultations, parent education and programs for parents
·Al Anon,http://wa-al-anon.org/. Al-Anon/Alateen
offers a recovery program for families and friends of alcoholics.
·Changes Parent Support Network, http://cpsn.org/. The Changes Parent Support
Network provides support for parents whose children are in self destructive
activities such as drug abuse.
Local governmental agencies,
including the Snohomish Health District, Snohomish County Human Services, and
local police agencies, have been conducting public forums to educate about and
discuss the heroin epidemic in Snohomish County. Recently, a forum was held in
The forums provide a background
about heroin and opioids in Snohomish County and their effects on our
population. The meetings are intended to educate the public on the epidemic and
in a way, a call to action. Local government agencies can take action, but they
need the public’s help and support in order to be successful.
According to a Snohomish Health
District handout, four things need to be done toward fighting the heroin/opioid
detox capacity. More detox beds are needed in Snohomish County.
Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) opportunities. This includes more methadone
clinics, use of buprenorphine and naltrexone.
The Snohomish County Sheriff’s
Office has issued the following statement on its Facebook page regarding
“A statement about clowns: The
Sheriff’s Office has no evidence of a credible threat to public safety in
regards to the recent reports of “clown sightings” in Snohomish County. Unless
there is evidence of a potential crime, Sheriff’s Office deputies and our
partner city police officers will not respond to clown sightings reported to
“This is another example of
the media's irresponsible approach to dealing with an issue and fueling
panic," said Sheriff Ty Trenary.
We offer the following advice
to those who are concerned or have questions about this latest internet hoax:
1. Anytime you witness someone
committing an actual crime (trespass, harassment, car prowl, etc.), whether
they are dressed as a clown or a pirate or a regular citizen, you should call
2. Making a threat towards
individuals or communities (e.g. a school) – whether via a social media post,
text message or other form of communication – is a crime and will be
investigated as such.
3. Walking around in public in
a clown costume is not a crime.
4. Acting or looking
suspicious is also not a crime *unless the suspect displays threatening or
criminal behavior* (see #1 and #2).
5. Making false reports to law
enforcement is a crime.”
Yesterday, Sheriff Ty Trenary testified before the County
Council about the budget. The county expects to make up to $6 million in cuts
throughout the county administration. That includes $2.4 million from the Sheriff’s
Sheriff Trenary testified that programs that could be cut
·The jail’s work-release program
·The Office of Neighborhoods
·The Violent Officer Task Force
·The elimination of Precinct Services such as
fingerprinting and concealed pistol licensing services
·Reduction of assistance to city police
departments for major crime and collision investigations
·Reduction in resources to investigate identity
theft and fraud