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Phone scam dialing into area

WAHOO A new phone scam recently crept into the area, only needing the word yes from victims.

If you get a call from a stranger asking, Can you hear me? hang up the phone.

That s what the Better Business Bureau is advising consumers who might become victims of the latest scam it says is circulating the country.

As a general rule, you re going to answer that question. But don t volunteer anything, said Saunders County Sheriff Kevin Stukenholtz. Jim Hegarty, president of the BBB serving Nebraska, South Dakota, the Kansas Plains and southwest Iowa, said the region has already received hundreds of reports about the scam. Stukenholtz said he s received reports of the scam in Saunders County as well.

The con aims to get victims to say the word yes so scammers can record it. The affirmative response is then used to authorize unwanted charges whether it s to a credit card, a cable or phone account or subscriptions. Many times, as with other phone scams, the perpetrators try and get local phone numbers to increase the likelihood of someone answering, Stukenholtz said.

They re coming up with something all the time, he said. Stukenholtz said he would advise people not to answer the phone at all if the number calling is not recognized.

But it s difficult to avoid. Here s how it works: You might receive a call from someone recent reports say the scammers are claiming they re from a home security agency, a cruise line or associated with Social Security. After the introduction, the recording will ask if you can hear the caller clearly. If you answer yes, there s a possibility the scam artist has recorded you and will use the response to sign you up for a product or service and then demand payment. If you refuse to pay, the caller may use your recorded yes to confirm your purchase agreement. In many cases, the scammers already have the person s phone number, which can be used to authorize third-party charges; or they may have a victim s credit card number or cable bill as the result of a data breach. When the victim disputes any charges to an account, the scammer can counter that they have your consent on a recorded line.

Stukenholtz said the scam can be avoided if one s guard is up. He said he recently received a call with a Denver, Co. area code that asked if he was Kevin Stukenholtz. He said he responded with who is this?

The innocuous conversation started off on the wrong foot, but Stukenholtz said a good strategy is to make the people on the other end of the phone commit to something. Other tips:

If you receive a call that sounds similar or asks questions seeking affirmation, avoid responding with yes, sure or OK. If you are asked a similar question on the phone or are asked to press a button to be placed on the Do Not Call registry, just hang up. Saying anything may help the scam artist identify that you have an active phone number. No government agency will ever solicit for the Do Not Call registry.

Write down the phone number of callers with this behavior and file a scam report with the BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker/us[1] or by calling 800-649-6814. Check your credit card, phone and cable statements carefully for any unfamiliar charges. If you suspect you have been victimized, call the billing company and dispute anything you did not authorize. The earlier you identify the unauthorized charges on your account, the easier it will be to recover any lost money. Stukenholtz said the scammers can come across as nice people, but they re not stupid and will work to manipulate the conversation.

Law enforcement efforts can be difficult, but if caught, they turn them into the attorney general s office, Stukenholtz said.

They ve made some arrests, but many times the calls originate from out of the country. It takes quite a bit to make that happen, Stukenholtz said.

(Paige Yowell with the BH News Service contributed to this article.)

References

  1. ^ bbb.org/scamtracker/us (bbb.org)

All-in on Justice’s vision for West Virginia

On Dec. 21, Gov. Jim Justice announced that I would be his Cabinet Secretary for the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. From that point on, I, like other Cabinet members, have been working every day to do what is right for West Virginia. I have personally devoted an average of 71 hours per week to respond to the governor s marching orders. Those orders are clear: with the state facing desperate times, its leaders needed to come forward and work together to make West Virginia proud. I spent from Dec. 21 to Inauguration Day mapping out a plan to make Military Affairs and Public Safety more efficient. The chief of staff approved this proposed reorganization on Jan. 27. Initially, these changes will reduce Military Affairs and Public Safety from 13 agencies to nine. My plan will unite Homeland Security State Administrative Agency, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and the West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center under a single West Virginia Homeland Security entity.

As a next step, a new Division of Corrections Operations will absorb the Regional Jail and Corrections Facility Authority and the divisions of Corrections and Juvenile Services. As this will require legislation, this major change will take additional time. So far, no delegate or senator I have spoken to has raised any concerns. Legislators have instead told me that these changes are long overdue. My reorganization plan also focuses on rented real estate. An initial review shows that Military Affairs and Public Safety pays $1.2 million each year just for administrative offices. I envision a single headquarters for all of Military Affairs and Public Safety, except for the West Virginia State Police, with shared staff and such common office space as conference rooms. This will reduce space and costs. I was on hand to applaud Gov. Justice s State of the State Address, and I support his proposed budget. I hope that in West Virginia, all parties come together and vote to approve it. It is the right thing to do based on a detailed evaluation of the state s financial situation.

I have never been accused of being a yes man. With a degree in accounting and certified as a fraud examiner, I would directly tell the governor and his staff if I did not support the proposed budget. However, I believe in and support the governor s approach to solve the state s financial problems. Our legislators have worked hard over the past three years. They have cut and reduced our state s budget by millions of dollars. In his budget, the governor proposes $26.6 million in responsible cuts. The issue at hand now is: will further cuts affect the function of our government? The answer is not difficult to see after just a month in Charleston. Here are some examples from within Military Affairs and Public Safety:

Citizens across West Virginia are afraid they could lose their local State Police detachments to additional cuts. Previous spending reductions have already forced the State Police to eliminate more than 50 vacant trooper positions. The State Police do not have the funding to train a new trooper cadet class.

The West Virginia National Guard and our Emergency Management team saved lives and delivered immediate relief after last year s devastating flooding. Further cuts could threaten the state s disaster response and weaken ongoing efforts to prepare and lessen the impact of such events. I talked to a state employee that has worked for the State of West Virginia for 19 years. He handles millions of dollars in federal grants. He is making $26,000 per year, has not received a pay raise in over a decade, and his counterparts in surrounding states make 2 to 3 times more. A correctional officer called me crying that it embarrasses him and his family to go to a grocery store and pay with food stamps. The officer never dreamed that he would work full-time and qualify for food stamps and would need them.

Cutting over $450 million in spending may balance the budget, but the damage to state government would take years to recover from. As for the proposed revenue enhancements, I believe we need to look at the end result proposed by the governor: these measures will allow West Virginia to eliminate the state s personal income tax. I m from Wood County. I know that it has hundreds of retirees, from teachers to corporate executives, who have purchased homes in Florida. They live there six months and one day to avoid West Virginia s state income tax. Most of these men and women love West Virginia, and moved to Florida strictly as a real estate investment and to avoid paying West Virginia personal income taxes.

We have so much to offer in West Virginia. Our state should be seen as a place where people can work, live, and then retire income tax-free to enjoy West Virginia s beauty. This theory works in at least eight states: Florida; Nevada; New Hampshire; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Washington; and Wyoming. The governor has provided a long-range plan, not a short-term fix. Once it is implemented, imagine the growth as people relocate to West Virginia to live. These people will need all of life s basic living needs, from groceries to health care. That means that West Virginia must focus on quality roads, bridges, sewage treatment facilities, and education; on keeping the crime rate low; and on developing venues attractive to citizens from children to retirees. We must look past a one-year budget, and instead focus on where we want to be in eight years.

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

People protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline demonstrate at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota on Thanksgiving Day 2016. Cassi Alexandra for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Cassi Alexandra for NPR

The Dakota Access Pipeline’s route takes it over four states and nearly 1,200 miles, from the Bakken oil fields in northwestern North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa and down to a terminal in Illinois. But one Missouri River crossing just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota has become the focal point of a fight over how the pipeline’s route was analyzed and approved by the federal government. In legal challenges and public demonstrations, members of the tribe and their supporters have argued that they were not adequately consulted about the route. Running the pipeline under a Missouri River reservoir called Lake Oahe, member say, would jeopardize the primary water source for the reservation, and construction would further damage sacred sites near the lake, violating tribal treaty rights.

After more than six months of legal wrangling, the Trump administration reversed a decision by the Obama administration and announced it is allowing the pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners, to drill under Lake Oahe and finish building the last section of the pipeline. Here are some key moments in the fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline.

This story has developed over many months, and this timeline captures only a portion of the newsworthy developments that have occurred, focusing largely on legal and policy decisions.

Dec. 2015 – Jan. 2016

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Omaha District publishes a draft[1] of its plan to approve the Dakota Access Pipeline route under the Missouri River. The Corps opened the plan up to public comments, including comments on environmental and cultural impacts.

April 2016

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office determines that no historic properties will be affected by the pipeline crossing.

A letter[2] from the Corps’ senior field archaeologist for the project lists five “recorded cultural sites” within the area that could be affected by construction of the pipeline, and more than 30 others that are thought to be within a 1-mile radius.

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

The letter supports the determination that “no historic properties will be subject to effect,” by the crossing under Lake Oahe, and notes that the Standing Rock Sioux has requested further archaeological survey of the area.

June 2016

The U.S. government’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation disputes the Corps determination in a letter[3] to the assistant secretary of the Army, citing the need for cooperation with tribal leaders to identify areas of concern to them. In the letter, the advisory council director asks the Corps to justify its decision.

July 25, 2016

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approves[4] the portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline route that crosses the Missouri River at the Lake Oahe reservoir. The crossing is on Army Corps-controlled land. The 1,261-page report announcing the approval said of the public review process: “No significant comments remain unresolved.”

The Omaha district commander, Col. John Henderson, wrote, “I have evaluated the anticipated environmental, economic, cultural, and social effects, and any cumulative effects” of the river crossing and found it is “not injurious to the public interest.”

Aug. 4, 2016

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sues[5] the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The tribe alleged that the Corps had failed to adequately consult tribe members before approving the pipeline, and had violated the National Historic Preservation Act when it “effectively authorized construction of the vast majority of the pipeline in and around federally regulated waters without any provision to ensure against destruction to culturally important sites.”

“There is a high risk that culturally and historically significant sites will be damaged or destroyed in the absence of an injunction,” the tribe wrote in its court filing.

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

In August 2016, demonstrators rally near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. That same month, a subsidiary of the company building the pipeline, accused protesters of halting construction activities. James MacPherson/AP hide caption

toggle caption James MacPherson/AP

Aug. 15, 2016

Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of the pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners, countersues[6] leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux, alleging that protesters near the Lake Oahe river crossing have “halted construction activities” that had been scheduled to begin five days earlier.

“On Wednesday August 10, 2016, representatives of Dakota Access arrived at the Construction Site and were met with resistance by approximately 15 to 30 individuals … who were protesting the construction of the Pipeline. By the afternoon, the number of individuals protesting at the Construction Site increased to approximately 100,” the company wrote.

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

Native American protesters and their supporters approach construction crews during a demonstration against work being done for the Dakota Access Pipeline near Cannon Ball, N.D., on Sept. 3, 2016. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Sept. 3, 2016

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe issues a statement saying Energy Transfer Partners demolished an area that contained “significant Native artifacts and sacred sites” when construction crews bulldozed a two-mile-long area near the Lake Oahe river crossing and north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

“I surveyed this land and we confirmed multiple graves and specific prayer sites,” the tribe’s historic preservation officer, Tim Mentz, said in the statement. “Portions, and possibly complete sites, have been taken out entirely.”

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

And protests in North Dakota turned violent[7] when private security guards clashed with some protesters. As reporter Amy Sisk of the public radio collaboration Inside Energy said in an NPR Live discussion on Facebook[8], “What happened is some protesters who’ve been camped out near this construction area broke through a fence to access this construction site and were met with some private security guards and guard dogs hired by the pipeline company. … Law enforcement says the protesters attacked the security guards and the dogs.” She added that[9] demonstrators said the dogs “actually bit some of the protesters.”

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

Demonstrators march from an encampment on the banks of the Cannonball River to a nearby construction site for the Dakota Access Pipeline to perform a daily prayer ceremony in September 2016. Andrew Cullen hide caption

toggle caption Andrew Cullen Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

Protesters (left) wade into the Cannonball River as others (right) pray and hold flags while marching across a wooden pedestrian bridge across a creek north of the main protest camp near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Emily Kask for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Emily Kask for NPR

Sept. 9, 2016

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg denies[12] the Standing Rock Sioux’s request to stop construction. In his decision[13], he writes that “the United States’ relationship with the Indian tribes has been contentious and tragic.” But he went on to say that the Army Corps “likely complied” with its obligation to consult the tribe, adding that the tribe “has not shown it will suffer injury that would be prevented by any injunction the Court could issue.”

But the Justice Department, the Department of the Army and the Interior Department announced that construction[14] on Army Corps-controlled land near the Lake Oahe river crossing should not proceed and asked that the pipeline company honor the request pending further evaluation and consultation with the tribe.

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

Oct. 12, 2016

Energy Transfer Partners proceeds with construction despite the request by the three federal agencies that it voluntarily halt activities near the Lake Oahe river crossing. The Morton County Sheriff arrests 27 people[15] demonstrating at the site.

Oct. 24, 2016

The chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, Dave Archambault II, sends a letter[16] to then-U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch requesting an investigation “to protect civil rights” of protesters, citing the “overall militarization of law enforcement response.”

Nov. 2, 2016

Then-President Obama says in an interview[17] that the U.S Army Corps of Engineers is “examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline in a way. So we’re going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of the first Americans.”

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

Military veterans protesting the pipeline stand opposite police guarding a bridge at the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Dec. 1, 2016. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Scott Olson/Getty Images Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

Oceti Sakowin Camp occupied by protesters can be seen in the distance on Dec. 4, 2016. Cassi Alexandra for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Cassi Alexandra for NPR

Dec. 4, 2016

The Army Corps halts construction[22] of the Dakota Access Pipeline and says it intends to issue an environmental impact statement with “full public input and analysis” before it approves the river crossing at Lake Oahe.

Jan. 18, 2017

The Army publishes a notice[23] in the Federal Register saying it is preparing the environmental impact statement and soliciting public comments until Feb. 20, 2017, on whether to grant the easement necessary to cross under Lake Oahe.

Jan. 24, 2017

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

President Trump signs an executive memorandum instructing the Army to expedite the review and approval process[24] for the unbuilt section of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Jan. 31, 2017

The Army says[25] it has been directed to expedite the review process for the easement request, and that “the Assistant Secretary for the Army Civil Works will make a decision on the pipeline once a full review and analysis is completed in accordance with the [president’s] directive.”

Feb. 7, 2017

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers grants the easement[26] allowing the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The Corps also issues a memo[27] saying it intends to terminate the public comment period and rescind its notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact assessment. The pipeline company immediately began construction[28] near the crossing under Lake Oahe.

Feb. 9, 2017

The Cheyenne River Sioux tribe asks the U.S. District Court to issue a restraining order[29] to block construction of the final piece of the pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe officially joins the request[30] a few days later. Both reservations get their water downstream of the Lake Oahe crossing.

Feb. 13, 2017

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg denies the tribes’ joint motion, noting that oil is not yet flowing under the reservoir. In his decision, Boasberg requires Dakota Access LLC to update the court on Feb. 21, “and every Monday thereafter as to the likely date that oil will begin to flow beneath Lake Oahe.”

Feb. 15, 2017

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne River Sioux tribe request a summary judgement[31] against both the Army Corps and Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of the pipeline company.

The plaintiffs cite tribal land rights under the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty[32] and argue that the Corps decision to grant the easement was “arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law.”

Feb. 17, 2017

The Corps formally terminates its environmental review in a notice published[33] in the Federal Register.

Feb. 22, 2017

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum sets this date as a deadline[34] for the remaining protesters to leave an encampment on federal land near the area of the pipeline company’s construction site.

References

  1. ^ publishes a draft (www.nwo.usace.army.mil)
  2. ^ A letter (www.documentcloud.org)
  3. ^ in a letter (www.achp.gov)
  4. ^ approves (www.documentcloud.org)
  5. ^ sues (www.documentcloud.org)
  6. ^ countersues (www.documentcloud.org)
  7. ^ protests in North Dakota turned violent (www.npr.org)
  8. ^ said in an NPR Live discussion on Facebook (www.facebook.com)
  9. ^ She added that (www.npr.org)
  10. ^ temporarily halts construction (www.npr.org)
  11. ^ activates the North Dakota National Guard (bismarcktribune.com)
  12. ^ denies (www.npr.org)
  13. ^ decision (earthjustice.org)
  14. ^ announced that construction (www.justice.gov)
  15. ^ arrests 27 people (www.npr.org)
  16. ^ sends a letter (www.documentcloud.org)
  17. ^ says in an interview (www.npr.org)
  18. ^ uses tear gas and sprays water (www.npr.org)
  19. ^ tells protesters (www.npr.org)
  20. ^ follows up (www.npr.org)
  21. ^ Nonetheless, many people stay (www.npr.org)
  22. ^ halts construction (www.npr.org)
  23. ^ publishes a notice (www.federalregister.gov)
  24. ^ expedite the review and approval process (www.npr.org)
  25. ^ Army says (www.npr.org)
  26. ^ grants the easement (www.npr.org)
  27. ^ issues a memo (www.documentcloud.org)
  28. ^ began construction (ir.energytransfer.com)
  29. ^ asks the U.S. District Court to issue a restraining order (www.npr.org)
  30. ^ the request (www.documentcloud.org)
  31. ^ request a summary judgement (assets.documentcloud.org)
  32. ^ 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty (ourdocuments.gov)
  33. ^ notice published (www.federalregister.gov)
  34. ^ as a deadline (www.governor.nd.gov)
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