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Scammers targeting Mt. Juliet
Tuesday, May 6, 2014

From the Mt. Juliet Police Department

Recently, the Mt. Juliet Police Department has been receiving calls regarding sophisticated phone and internet scams that may be targeting citizens in our community. Mt. Juliet is not unique to this trend, and scammers target everyone. Scams continue as nationwide crime problem, but they can be prevented. Scam artist simply want to make money for themselves by defrauding you through tricks. 

The most common scamming trend today deals with pre-paid credit cards, and the most common card of choice is the “Green-Dot Money Card.” During this scam attempt, the scam artist will ask the victim to obtain a  pre-paid card, deposit funds to the account, and then provide the scam artist with the account number and/or pin number to enable them to remotely access the funds from anywhere in the world. 

If any stranger contacts you to give money through a pre-paid card, check, or money order, then that should be a major red-flag. Unfortunately, people and/or businesses do not just hand out large sums of money. Hang up the phone or delete the email immediately if this happens to you. In many cases, the scammers are overseas and committing their scam attempt from another country. However, the scam artists act like they from the area by rerouting their international phone number through a U.S. number. Sadly, the likelihood of charging the scam artist is very slim because they are International crimes and hard to track.

To ensure you are not a victim of scams, take the following steps:

1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

2. Become educated on the latest scam trends.

3. If someone calls you and asks you to obtain a pre-paid credit card, it is more than likely a scam. 

4. Never give out any confidential information over the telephone or internet unless you are absolutely certain with who they are and completely confident that they are legit. 

5. If there is any doubt, verify the truth or stop communication. 

The Council of Better Business Bureaus offers great information on scam trends, and the following are the BBB’s Top Ten Scams of 2013:

Medical Alert Scam – A new twist to the telemarketing scam hit 2013 hard. With promises of a “free” medical alert system, the scam targeted seniors and caretakers and claimed to be offering the system free of charge because a family member or friend had already paid for it. In many cases, seniors were asked to provide their bank account or credit information to “verify” their identity and, as a result, were charged the monthly $35 service fee. The system, of course, never arrived and the seniors were left with a charge they had trouble getting refunded. Easy rule of thumb – be wary of “free” offers that require your personal information upfront and always verify with the supposed friend or family member that the caller says paid for the service. 

Advance Fee/Prepayment Scams – In challenging economic times, many people are looking for help getting out of debt or hanging on to their home. Scammers pose as representatives from phony loan companies and use authentic-looking documents, emails and websites to fool consumers into parting with their money. Some sound like a government agency, or even part of BBB or other nonprofit consumer organizations. Most ask for an upfront fee to help you deal with your mortgage company, creditors or the government (services you could do yourself for free), but leave you in more debt than when you started.

They all have a common theme: Victims pay a smaller amount of money in anticipation of something of greater value, but then you receive nothing in return. You should not send a wire transfer to receive a loan or a credit card.

Auction Reseller Scam – Many people turn to EBay and other online auctions sites to sell used items they no longer need, and relatively new electronics seem to do especially well. But scammers have figured out a way to fool sellers into shipping goods without receiving payment. Usually the buyer claims it’s an “emergency” of some sort – a child’s birthday, a member of the military shipping out – and asks the seller to ship the same day. The seller receives an email that looks like it’s from PayPal confirming the payment, but emails are easy to fake. Always confirm payment in your EBay and PayPal accounts before shipping, especially to an overseas address. 

Arrest Warrant Scam – This one seemed to really take off last autumn. In this scam, con artists are taking advantage of technology that can change what is visible on Caller ID, and allowing them to pose as the office of the local sheriff or other law enforcement agency. They call to say there is a warrant out for your arrest, but that you can pay a fine in order to avoid criminal charges. Of course, these “police” don’t take credit cards; only a wire transfer or pre-paid debit card will do. Sometimes these scams seem very personal; the scammer may refer to a loan or other financial matter. It may just be a lucky guess, but don’t be fooled into thinking you are about to be arrested. 

Invisible Home Improvements – Home improvement scams vary little from year to year, and most involve some type of shoddy workmanship from unlicensed or untrained workers. The hardest for homeowners to detect, and therefore the easiest for scammers to pull off, are repairs or improvements to the areas of your home that you can’t see: roofs, chimneys, air ducts, crawl spaces, etc. Scammers may simply knock at your door offering a great deal because they were “in the neighborhood,” but more and more they are using telemarketing, email and even social media to reach homeowners. Helpful videos on YouTube can add legitimacy to a contractor, but consumers have no way of knowing if the video is real or “borrowed” from a legitimate contractor. Check out home contractors at bbb.org before saying yes. 

Casting Call Scam – This is not as widespread as some other scams, but it seems to have really been on the increase in recent years, thanks to the popularity of television talent shows like “American Idol” and “Project Runway.” Scammers pose as agents or talent scouts looking for actors, singers, models, reality show contestants, etc., and use phony audition notices to fool aspiring performers into paying to try out for parts that don’t exist. There are several ways this plays out. It can simply be an unscrupulous way to sell acting lessons, photography services, etc., or it can be an outright scam for things like fees for online “applications” or upcoming “casting calls.” Even worse, the information provided on an online application could be everything a scammer needs for identity theft. 

Foreign Currency Scam – Investments in foreign currency can sound like a great idea, and scammers frequently use real current events and news stories to make their pitches even more appealing. They advertise an easy investment with high return and low risk when you purchase Iraqi Dinar, Vietnamese Dong or, most recently, the Egyptian Pound. The plan is that, when those governments revalue their currencies, increasing their worth against the dollar, you just sell and cash in. Unlike previous hoaxes, you may even take possession of real currency. The problem is that they will be very difficult to sell, and it’s extremely unlikely they will ever significantly increase in value. 

Scam Texts – With online and mobile banking skyrocketing, it’s not a surprise that scams quickly follow. One major tactic recently is the use of scam texts, known as “smishing,” to steal personal information. They look like a text alert from your bank, asking you to confirm information or “reactivate your debit card” by following a link on your smart phone. Banks of all sizes have been targeted, and details of the scam vary, but the outcome is the same: scammers get your banking information, maybe even your ATM number and PIN. You may even inadvertently download malicious software that gives the scammer access to anything on your phone. 

Do Not Call Scams – The National Do Not Call Registry (U.S.) offer consumers a free way to reduce telemarketing calls. Scammers call anyway, of course, and they’ve even found a way to scam consumers by pretending to be a government official calling to sign you up or confirming your previous participation on the Dot Not call list! In one variation, scammers ask for personal information, such as your name, address and Social Security/Social Insurance number. In another, scammers try to charge a fee to join the registry. Either way, just hang up. These services are free, but sharing personal information with a scammer could cost you a lot. 

Fake Friend Scam – Did you ever get a Friend Request on Facebook from someone you already thought was your Friend? If you hit Accept, you may have just friended a scammer. A popular recent scam has been the theft of people’s online identities to create fake profiles, which can be used in a variety of ways. A new Friend can learn a lot about you to scam you later, “recommend” sketchy websites that download malware, use your account to scrap information on your other Friends, even impersonate a military officer or other trustworthy person to perpetrate a romance scam. Be careful on social media, keep your privacy settings high, and don’t share confidential information. You can’t always be sure that your Friends are really your friends. 

Scam of the Year: Affordable Care Act Scam - Scammers had a field day with the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), using it as a way to fool Americans into sharing their personal information. Scammers would call claiming to be from the federal government and saying the would-be victim needed a new insurance card or Medicare card. However, before they can mail the card, they need to collect personal information. Scammers do a lot to make their requests seem credible. For example, they may have your bank’s routing number and ask you to provide your account number. Or, they may ask for your credit card or Social Security number, Medicare ID, or other personal information. But sharing personal information with a scammer puts you at risk for identity theft. 

Source: Council of Better Business Bureaus

http://www.bbb.org/council/bbb-scam-stopper/top-scams/ 

 
Raising Christmas 4 Kids at Pine Creek
Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Despite strong storms rolling through Middle Tennessee and an ongoing threat of severe weather, the clouds parted and celebrities gathered for another successful Christmas 4 Kids Celebrity Golf Tournament on Tuesday, April 29 at Pine Creek Golf Course. 

Now in its fourth year, a full flight of 30 golf teams were paired with celebrities including music’s Tracy Lawrence, Jan Howard, Eric Heatherly, George Ducas, Lucas Hoge, Lisa Matassa, Matt Gary, Del Gray of Little Texas, Mark and Jason Sutton of Brother Trouble, Dave Rowland of Dave & Sugar fame, the Bachelorette’s Ty Brown, Jackson Delaney, Jesse Keith Whitley, Mitch Goudy, Sherry Lynn, Brandon Blackstock and songwriter Wood Newton, plus television personalities Kelly Sutton (ZUUS Country) and Bob Sellers (Fox 17), in addition to legendary announcer and radio host WSM’s Mike Terry, Ms. Senior America Carolyn Corlew and famed international comic strip artist and writer Guy Gilchrist.  Also on hand to help were Erin Como and Jennifer Waddell of Fox 17. This year’s tournament was co-hosted by the award-winning Bluegrass duo The Roys, who have been helping to host the tournament since its inception over the past four years, and Stacy McCloud of GAC. Prevost bus company, the ultimate class in driving excellence, also returned for its fourth consecutive year as the title sponsor. 

“Each year, things just get better and bigger,” stated Linda O’Connell, President of Christmas4Kids. “This year, we had a $25,000 hole-in-one prize for the taking. While no one left with the cash, what every golfer got in return was the joy of being able to provide a great Christmas for a whole bunch of Middle-Tennessee children this coming season. That’s a feeling that money just can’t buy.”    

Christmas 4 Kids fundraising efforts will continue throughout the year, with the annual Christmas 4 Kids Charity Concert at the Ryman on November 24 and the Tour Bus show on December 15. For more information on Christmas 4 Kids, please visit christmas4kids.org. 

About Christmas 4 Kids:

For over twenty years, Christmas 4 Kids has been providing children in the Middle Tennessee area with the chance to experience the joys of Christmas. Last year, Christmas 4 Kids was able to provide over 400 children a ride on a celebrity tour bus, a party with Santa and Mrs. Claus, money to spend on gifts for themselves and others at a local Wal-Mart and a new winter coat.  

Proceeds from this year’s Celebrity Golf Tournament and other events throughout the year, like the annual Charity Concert at the Ryman and Tour Bus Show, will go to make this a reality again in December 2014. Visit www.christmas4kids.org for more information on Christmas 4 Kids.

 
Barry running for Judge
Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Haywood Barry last week announced his candidacy for Division II General Sessions Judge of Wilson County. He is the former Judge of Division I. 

Haywood is a long-time resident of Lebanon and well known for his community service. He most recently served two terms as Ward 5 City Council Person for Lebanon. Haywood is a graduate of Lebanon High School, Tennessee Tech University, and the Nashville School of Law. In addition, he has extensive experience and many hours of specialized continuing judicial education. 

Since his retirement from a 24 year stint as Division I Judge, Haywood has for the past 16 years substituted throughout Middle Tennessee to help other Judges. He has remained up-to-date on all laws as a continuing member of the Tennessee General Sessions Judges Conference. Haywood is also a member of many legal and judicial education organizations. He resumed the practice of law from 2000 until 2011. 

Haywood is married to Jean Berry, who taught elementary school for many years in Wilson County and Lebanon. They have two adult children, Ken Barry, who is a Civil and Environmental Engineer with S&ME and resides with his family in Norris. Their daughter, Julie Barry Gatlin, is a real estate broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, and resides with her family in Lebanon. Haywood and Jean are the proud grandparents of five grandchildren. 

Haywood is a long-time member of the Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce. In 2008, he was awarded Life Membership in the Chamber. He is a well-known runner in this area. He has been running for over 40 years and logged over 35,000 miles in pursuit of good health. 

Haywood states, “I have signed the Tennessee Fair Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct promising to abide by all the rules applying to judicial candidates. My pledge to you is to work hard, listen to all, fairly apply the law, then use my wisdom and common sense gained from many years of legal and judicial experience to make a fair decision. It is my wholehearted desire to serve the people of Wilson County. I ask for your vote and support in the Aug. 7 election. Thank you for your past and future consideration.”

 
Foilers foiled by Mt. Juliet PD
Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Three suspects failed to foil the anti-theft devices at Best Buy by wrapping their stolen items in…foil. 

Mt. Juliet Police officers were called to Best Buy Tuesday, April 29 when loss prevention staff noticed the suspects wrapping trying to conceal a cell phone and Bose headphones. 

They were stopped by staff and officers, and the suspects had several items wrapped in aluminum foil, which they used to try to get past the anti-theft devices. 

Michael Binkley, 48, of Nashville, Amanda Jett, 18, of Hermitage, and Stephen Sandlin, 29, of Madison, were all arrested and booked into the Wilson County Jail under a $4,000 bond. 

They were charged with Theft of Merchandise and Possession of Tools to Interfere with Anti-theft Security Devices. 

All are set to appear in court on June 10.

 
Festival of Art & Music set for May 31
Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Bonna Brothers Band will be the opening act at the Summer Festival of Art & Music. 

The fourth annual Summer Festival of Art & Music to benefit the Mt. Juliet Senior Activity Center is scheduled for Saturday, May 31 from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m.

The agenda includes five music acts on an outdoor stage beginning at 10 a.m. Approximate times are:

10 a.m. – The Bonna Brothers Band

11 a.m. – Cookie & the Monster

Noon – Country Artist Billy Tarkington

2 p.m. – Don O’ Saile “Elvis”

3 p.m. – Rich Mahan Band

Local artisans will be exhibiting and selling their wares. Booths include: Oil paintings, water color and drawings, painted glass wear, stained glass, woodworking, quilting, pottery, photography crafts, jewelry and more. 

Booths are available for $25.

A picnic plate lunch with hot dogs, baked beans, chips, desserts & beverage for $5 will be offered from 11-1 p.m.

The famous “decorate a shoe” contest and exhibit will take place. 

First, second and third place prizes will be awarded at 4 p.m. 

Entrées must be brought in by noon Friday, May 10. The contest is open to anyone.

This year’s theme is “Movies”.

Some collectible cars will be on display.

For more information on booth rental or how to enter the shoe contest call  (615) 758-9114. 

The event is free and open to the public.

 
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