FTC says romance scams cost Americans $143M last year

By Taylor Twelford | Washington Post

Love is a scam. No, really: romance scams have skyrocketed in the past few years and are now the most common kind of consumer fraud — and the most costly, according to a report released this week by the Federal Trade Commission.

These predatory schemes often unfold online, on dating sites and social media alike, with the fraudster going to great lengths to connect with someone to extract money from them. Scammers will make fake profiles, concoct elaborate backstories or even impersonate real people to appear more convincing. Then they’ll try to cash in on their connection, using tall tales about medical emergencies or personal misfortune. But the damage extends far beyond financial loss.

“I am a smart woman with decades of successful working experience. I have made mistakes in my life but nothing like this,” wrote a 63-year-old victim of a romance scam who shared her story with AARP. “The ripple effects have been so devastating and I have to deal with them almost every day of my life.”

The FTC received 21,368 reports of romance scams in 2018, up from about 13,000 reports the previous year. Losses from romance scams have increased fourfold since 2015, and the really unlucky in love were swindled out of $143 million in 2018, according to the report.

Older people are more likely to be targeted in romance scams and also report greater financial losses. Victims between the ages of 40 and 69 lose money at double the rate of younger ones. Elderly victims are generally the most vulnerable — individual median losses for people over 70 were $10,000. The median individual loss across all ages was $2,600.

Some scams stretch over months or even years, making the betrayals emotionally devastating as well as financially. Even after the hoaxes are exposed, victims must …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World


McCabe says he investigated Trump after Comey firing

By Matt Zapotosky and John Wagner | Washington Post

Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe said in an interview that aired Thursday that he authorized an investigation into President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia a day after meeting with him in May 2017 out of fear that he could soon be fired.

“I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground in an indelible fashion that were I removed quickly or reassigned or fired that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace,” McCabe told CBS.

His comments marked the first time that McCabe has publicly addressed why he opened an investigation into Trump following the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey, whose post McCabe took over.

CBS broadcast a portion of an interview scheduled to air in full on “60 Minutes” on Sunday.

“I was speaking to the man who had just run for the presidency, and won the election for the presidency, and who might have done so with the aid of the government of Russia, our most formidable adversary on the world stage, and that was something that troubled me greatly,” McCabe said, recalling his first meeting with Trump.

About two hours after the clip aired, Trump blasted McCabe on Twitter, calling him “a disgrace to the FBI and a disgrace to our Country.”

“Disgraced FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe pretends to be a ‘poor little Angel’ when in fact he was a big part of the Crooked Hillary Scandal & the Russia Hoax – a puppet for Leakin’ James Comey,” the president wrote, referring to an FBI investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server while secretary of state in addition to its probe of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Trump said that …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World


White supremacist gets life for murder intended to start race war

James Jackson. (New York Police Department)

Feb 14 (Reuters) – A white man who killed a black man with a sword in the hopes of starting a race war was sentenced to life in prison without parole Wednesday in New York, multiple media accounts said.

James Jackson, 30, a former U.S. Army specialist, apologized for the slaying, before the State Supreme Court Justice Laura A. Ward sentenced him to the maximum allowed under the law, the New York Times reported.

Last month, Jackson pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in furtherance of an act of terrorism, in the March 2017 death of Timothy Caughman, 66.

Caughman was fatally stabbed as he collected cans for recycling near the Manhattan entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel.

Jackson turned himself in at a police station after police circulated surveillance video of the killing.

Jackson, of Baltimore, told detectives that the traveled to New York City because it is the U.S. media capital and he believed that the killing would start a race war.

“The racial World War starts today,” Jackson wrote in a manifesto that included a swastika, the Times reported. “This political terrorist attack is a formal declaration of a global total war on the Negro races,” he wrote.

Neither an attorney for Jackson nor state prosecutors were available for comment early Thursday. In January, Cyrus Vance, New York’s district attorney, said in a statement, “If you come here to kill New Yorkers in the name of white nationalism, you will be investigated, prosecuted, and incapacitated like the terrorist that you are.”

Jackson served as an Army specialist until 2012 and was deployed in Afghanistan for nearly a year beginning in December 2010. He was awarded several medals for his conduct.

(Reporting by Rich McKay, editing by Larry King)

…read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World


House committee moves forward with mandatory background checks for gun sales

Katie Zezima | The Washington Post

WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee passed a measure Wednesday that would require background checks for all gun sales and most gun transfers within the United States, the most significant gun-control legislation to advance this far in Congress in years.

The committee spent more than nine hours debating the bill before voting 21-14 to advance it Wednesday night. It will now face a vote on the House floor. The measure was among the first actions taken by the newly elected Democratic majority, which pledged to make gun control a top issue. The bill also has the support of at least five Republicans, a rare feat given that the issue often has cleaved along party lines.

The committee also voted 23-15 to advance a bill that would close a loophole in the current background-check law that allows a gun purchase if a check is not completed in three days.

Wednesday’s debate comes as Democrats embark on their most aggressive push to enact gun-control laws after years of congressional inaction. The House is slated to vote on several bills in the first 100 days of the legislative session and had its first hearing on a gun-control bill since 2007. It is taking numerous actions this week around the anniversary of the mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school that killed 17 students and staff on Feb. 14, 2018.

“I ask that we work together not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans, to end this silence with action to make all of our communities safer from gun violence,” said Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., who represents Parkland and held a moment of silence on the House floor Wednesday to honor the victims. “I ask that this moment of silence not be in vain.”

The Judiciary Committee hearing became a rancorous partisan battle …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World


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