Beware of an e-mail claiming to be from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on behalf of the FBI requesting that you “kindly get back to us for further directives.” It is a scam, according to a report in the Miami Herald on Wednesday.
“It didn’t appear very convincing to me when I opened it,” former WSVN-TV reporter Derek Hayward told Examiner. “An award of almost 11 million dollars would come in quite handy now that I’m retired,” he stated with a chuckle.
The fake e-mail claims as follows:
SECRET SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
WASHINGTON, DC 20528, USA.
This is the Department of Homeland Security we have vital mission: to secure the nation from the many threats we face as well as internet Fraud. This requires the dedication of more than 230,000 employees in jobs that range from aviation and border security to emergency response, from cyber security analyst to chemical facility inspector. Our duties are wide-ranging, but our goal is clear — keeping America safe.
We are happy to inform you that your funds valued at US$10,700,000.00 (Ten million Seven Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) have been approved by the Treasury Department of the United States.
Kindly get back to us for further directives.
Note: Do not reply to any e-mail that comes from the FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III. The FBI director does not e-mail people; He will rather send an agent to your door step in person. Do not fall a victim of scam again, a word is enough for the wise.
Thank you and have a good day.
Signed: Julia Pierson
Director, United States Secret Service
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528, USA
The signatory of the e-mail – Julia Pierson – is the real director of the U.S. Secret Service. She is an Orlando native, former Orlando police officer, and spent several years in the Secret Service’s Miami office back in the 1980’s. She became the agency’s first female director in late March.
As in other variations of this scam, this is not a legitimate communication from law enforcement, but rather an attempt to obtain personal banking information from an unsuspecting victim. If you have received this e-mail or something similar to it, do not follow the instructions. It is suggested that you forward the communication to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.IC3.gov.
A South Miami man is being held without bond Friday after gunning down his wife and posting gruesome photos of her body on Facebook, according to police and The Miami Herald.
Turning himself in to police Thursday, Derek Medina, 31, was booked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center early Friday following the shooting death of his wife, Jennifer Alonso, 26.
Under the caption “RIP Jennifer Alonzo,” Medina posted a graphic photo of his slain wife’s blood soaked body on his Facebook Timeline. Shortly before, he updated his status to reveal: “You will see me in the news.”
“Im going to prison or death sentence for killing my wife love you guys miss you guys takecare Facebook people you will see me in the news,” Medina wrote.
“My wife was punching me and I am not going to stand anymore with the abuse so I did what I did I hope u understand me.”
Medina then drove to his father’s house and confessed to the murder. Thereafter they drove together to the South Miami Police Department.
“Officers then responded to the listed location where they found the victim deceased from apparent gunshot wounds, as well as the victim’s daughter, 10, who was unharmed,” authorities later reported.
“His lawyers will advance the ‘battered husband syndrome,’ to mimic the often-used defense of ‘battered wife syndrome’ used famously by Ellis Rubin and other lawyers defending wives who have killed their husbands,” Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney John Contini, author of several real-life crime dramas including Danger Road and Feeling the Heat, told Examiner. “They’ll argue, ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander,’ otherwise you’re denying men ‘equal protection’ under the 14th Amendment which guarantees equal treatment for both men and women under the law.”
It took Facebook five hours to remove the graphic photo of Jennifer Alonzo from Derek Medina’s personal profile. In releasing a statement to Examiner:
“The content was reported to us. We took action on the profile — removing the content and disabling the profile, and we reached out to law enforcement. We take action on all content that violates our terms, which are clearly laid out on our site.”
With the exception of Medina’s claims of self defense, a motive for the murder is unknown at this time.
“In posting his allegations of domestic violence for the entire world to see, it appears that Medina could be setting the groundwork for a ‘Stand your Ground’ defense,” Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney and Fox/CNN legal contributor Eric Schwartzreich told Examiner. “With that said, a fish doesn’t get caught if it keeps his mouth shut.”
Fading faster than his rise in the polls for New York City mayor, former congressman Anthony Weiner has plummeted to fourth place in the Democratic primary field, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released late Tuesday.
With over 20 declared candidates for mayor, more than have of those surveyed – 53 percent – suggest Weiner should drop out of the race.
Weiner – who first rose to national stardom in 2011 in his now infamous crotch shot - has vowed to stand tall and continue his campaign despite sexting young women while married. Bringing parody to the race while violating the fundamental vows of marriage and abusing the public trust, Weiner remains hard in his commitment to become mayor of America’s largest city.
Crossing party lines – Democrat, Republican and Independent alike – gender, ethnicity and religion, voters have been unforgiving as allegations of continued bad behavior plague a shrinking Weiner base.
“With six weeks to go, anything can happen, but it looks like former Congressman Anthony Weiner may have sexted himself right out of the race for New York City mayor,” stated Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “And with Weiner in free-fall, it begins to look like a three-way race again.”
While obstinance and delusion continue to rein supreme for Weiner, he refused to fade from glory and vowed to continue despite his lewd messages to women.
“Quitting isn’t the way we roll in New York City,” Weiner stated in a minute-long video posted on his campaign website late Tuesday. “Someone wants to come out with something embarrassing about you in your private life; you’ve got to talk about that for a little while.”
“If politicians like Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer can reinvent themselves despite allegations of lewd photos, messages and using the services of a prostitute, anyone can,” Rico Petrocelli, former chairman of the Broward Republican Party in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, told Examiner. “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
Utilizing public record databases to find criminal, civil, or traffic violations in South Florida became a little easier Friday with the release of a semi-comprehensive list of online resources.
Locating and identifying a criminal history, civil litigation or traffic history is but a click away. You can also access resources in relation to inmates, those on probation, parole or community control, sex offenders or missing children, in addition to stolen property or vehicles.
· Florida Department of Law Enforcement – For a modest fee of $23.00, you can obtain an individual’s criminal history record in Florida.
· Broward County court records - Search civil, criminal and traffic courts through the Clerk’s office.
· Miami-Dade County court records – Search civil, criminal and traffic courts through the Clerk’s office.
· Monroe County court records – Search civil, criminal and traffic courts through the Clerk’s office.
· Palm Beach County court records – Search civil, criminal and traffic courts through the Clerk’s office.
· Florida Offender Alert System – Sign up to receive an email alert when a sex offender moves into your neighborhood.
· Florida Sex Offender Registry – Locate registered sex offenders by name, city, address or zip code.
· Sex offender screen names – Check a computer screen name or email address to determine whether it’s linked to a registered sex offender in Florida.
· National and other state sex offender registries – Search the national database, or select a state to view a particular registry.
Jail and state prison inmates
· Broward County Jail inmates – Search for inmates currently incarcerated in Broward County.
· Miami-Dade County Jail inmates – Search for inmates currently incarcerated in Miami-Dade County.
· Monroe County Jail inmates – Search for inmates currently incarcerated in Monroe County.
· Palm Beach County Jail inmates – Search for inmates currently incarcerated in Palm Beach County as well as those released within the last 12 months.
· Florida Department of Corrections – Search for inmates currently incarcerated or recently released, as well as those on probation, parole, community control or other form of non-custodial release.
Wanted and missing persons
· Florida Missing Children Search – Search for a missing or endangered person directly at the state Missing Children Information Clearinghouse.
· Missing Persons Search – Search for a missing person directly at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
· National Center for Missing and Exploited Children – Search for several national resources for missing children.
· Wanted Persons Search – Search for felony or misdemeanor warrant information as reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
· Wireless Amber alerts – Sign up for free wireless Amber alerts directly to your cell phone.
· Florida Crime Information Center – Search for information on whether a vehicle, vehicle parts, boats, license plates, decals, guns and other items were reported lost or stolen in Florida.
· VINCheck – Search the National Insurance Crime Bureau database to see if a vehicle has been reported stolen.
For daily updates on The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, you can join Bill’s 16,550 plus fans on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/thecreditreportwithbilllewis.
Seeking a fresh start in life and a discharge from creditors – including the attorney who masterminded her acquittal in the murder of two-year old Caylee Anthony – Casey Anthony filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy late Friday in Tampa.
Claiming $1,100 in assets and over $792,000 in liabilities, the unemployed Anthony has listed unsecured debts that include $500,000 to Jose Baez for attorney fees and costs for her criminal defense during trial; $145,660 to the Orange County Sheriff’s office for a judgment covering investigative fees and costs; $68,540 to the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid taxes, interest and penalties; and $61,505 to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for investigative costs.
Anthony lists about 80 creditors in her 60-page court filing. For the most part, she claims unsecured debt for attorney’s fees, forensics, investigative and consulting services, in addition to medical and psychiatric services.
Other unsecured debts include Anthony’s mother, Cindy, unpaid credit card bills and even a debt for scuba diving services.
It appears that Anthony has included every possible debt to every possible party.
The bankruptcy filing also shows that Anthony is a defendant in several lawsuits, including one brought by Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez for defamation in the Orange County Circuit Court.
Fernandez-Gonzalez claims that her reputation was destroyed when Anthony told detectives that a babysitter with the same name kidnapped Caylee. Later found dead, police were investigating the 2008 disappearance of the two-year old.
Although strikingly similar, Anthony’s attorney has previously stated that details offered by her to police did not match this particular Fernandez-Gonzalez.
A successful bankruptcy discharge under Chapter 7 would wipe Casey Anthony’s financial slate totally clean. Although a trustee has the right to take possession of and sell non-exempt property and use the sale proceeds to pay creditors, only $1,100 in assets have been claimed by Anthony.
Unemployed and recently completing probation following her previous felony conviction on check fraud charges, the acquitted alleged murderess has nothing to lose by discharging her debts utilizing federal bankruptcy laws.
Although bankruptcy may appear on her credit report for up to ten years, Casey Anthony will always be compared to O.J. Simpson as an acquitted alleged killer.
Now imprisoned in Nevada on unrelated robbery and kidnapping charges, Simpson was acquitted in 1995 of the 1994 double murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman after a lengthy, internationally publicized trial in Los Angeles, California.
The Tampa bankruptcy filing came on the same day that the Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed two of Anthony’s four misdemeanor convictions for providing false information to a law enforcement officer during a missing person investigation.
“The Appellate Court disagreed with Judge Perry’s interpretation of the law arguing that providing ‘false information’ is not the same thing as a false statement,” indicated Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Eric Schwartzreich. “If the police are questioning you about a robbery and you state that ‘birds do not fly’ – that is a false statement, not false information. That is the distinction the Fifth District Court of Appeal used to reverse the two misdemeanor ‘lying’ convictions.”
Although Anthony was acquitted of first degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child, she was found guilty by a Florida jury of lying to police. She was sentenced to one year in jail on each count, to be served consecutively.
Having received substantial credit for time served, Anthony was released days later on July 17, 2011. An appeal by her attorney followed.
“Wiping her debt away through bankruptcy was inevitable,” said John Contini, a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney and author of several real-life crime dramas including Danger Road and Feeling the Heat. “Although forever in debt to those who helped acquit her of killing young Caylee, without the protection of the federal Bankruptcy court, Casey Anthony would never be truly set free.”
2,140 days without freedom.
Retired FBI agent Robert Levinson devoted almost three decades of service to his country and the citizens of the United States. A career that deserved honors has instead resulted in almost six years as a hostage in a foreign country.
Until his disappearance in March 2007, Levinson, 64, resided with his wife and seven children in Coral Springs. Working as a private investigator, he was researching a cigarette smuggling case on Kish Island in Iran when he went missing.
There have been many efforts over the years to locate Levinson and return him home and to his loving family. All have met with disappointing results.
In 2010, the Levinson family received a “proof-of-life” video from his captors. The Federal Bureau of Investigation responded by placing a $1,000,000 reward for information pertaining to his disappearance and whereabouts.
To date, there have been no publicized results and the Levinson family feels all but abandoned.
Family and friends have set up a website and social media accounts under the username of “HelpBobLevinson” on Facebook and Twitter. Spreading awareness by posting updates on Bob Levinson’s “disappearance” in Iran has become priority one.
Levinson’s wife – Christine – released Tuesday five disturbing photos of Bob dressed in an orange prison-type jumpsuit. He had lost weight and has a long grey beard and disheveled hair.
In visibly deteriorating health, Levinson is also seen holding signs pleading for help.
An analysis of the photographs has led authorities to believe that Iran is behind Levinson’s kidnapping. With such knowledge, the family hopes that the United States will exact more pressure on the Iranian government to free Levinson.
According to published reports, the Levinson family received the photos anonymously by email in late 2010 and early 2011. With Tuesday’s release comes a heightened attempt to encourage media awareness and governmental attention.
The Levinson family is now attempting to secure Bob’s freedom through a recently created White House petition process under the Obama Administration’s “We the People” website.
“Make rescuing US Citizen Robert Levinson being held hostage in the Middle East since 2007 a top priority,” states the petition.
The family notes on the website that Levinson is the second-longest-held hostage in American history, second to Terry Anderson, held longer in the Lebanon Hostage Crisis.
As of now, the petition has almost 11,100 signatures. To be successful, it must have 25,000 by January 20th – the day before President Barack Obama’s inauguration in Washington D.C.
“We keep trying to get media attention in the hopes that whoever is holding him can see it, and will reach out to us to try and resolve it,” stated Bob’s son, Doug Levinson. “We also started the petition to try to get the White House to respond to it and make it a top priority.”
When Robert Levinson finally returns home, he will be proud to find his son pursuing the same career path that he took.
“My dad always wanted to be an FBI agent since he was 8 years old,” Levinson said. “None of my brothers or sisters had the desire to go into the FBI, but I have since I can remember. He’s my idol, my hero. Everybody wants to be like their hero, and I’m no different. If I could be half the man my father is, I would be happy.”
The entire community can help the Levinson family by signing the petition and promoting it through social media. In order to warrant an official response from the White House, 14,000 more signatures are required by Sunday.
For more information about Bob Levinson’s disappearance, please visit www.helpboblevinson.com. For more information on the $1,000,000.00 reward being offered by the FBI for information on his disappearance and whereabouts, please visit tips.fbi.gov.
Ten major mortgage servicers including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo entered into a $8.5 billion settlement Monday with federal regulators to settle claims related to mortgage foreclosure abuses.
Under the terms of the settlement with the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), $3.3 billion will be paid by banks directly to eligible mortgage borrowers. Over $5.2 billion in other assistance – such as loan modifications and forgiveness of deficiency judgments – will also be available.
The agreement covers 3.8 million borrowers whose homes were in foreclosure in 2009 and 2010 with participating servicers.
By agreeing to the settlement, participating lenders can cease the Independent Foreclosure Review process mandated under an enforcement action entered in April 2011.
Regulators had determined that the foreclosure review process – which involved a case-by-case review of millions of loan files – was proving too expensive, time consuming and ineffective.
“When we began the Independent Foreclosure Review, the OCC pledged to fix what was broken, identify who was harmed, and compensate them for that injury,” Chief Thomas Curry of the OCC stated in a written release. “While today’s announcement represents a significant change in direction, it meets those original objectives by ensuring that consumers are the ones who will benefit, and that they will benefit more quickly and in a more direct manner.”
Monday’s deal follows a separate $26 billion mortgage settlement entered early last year in relation to the “robo-signing” scandal.
Only $1.5 billion of that settlement was in the form of direct cash relief to 750,000 borrowers.
Eligible borrowers under the latest settlement will receive compensation whether or not they filed a request for an independent foreclosure review and mortgage borrowers do not need to take further action to be eligible for compensation.
Borrowers are expected to be contacted by the end of March with specific payment details. They will not be required to execute a waiver of any legal claims that may exist against their servicer as a condition for receiving payment.
In addition, the servicers’ internal complaint process will remain available to borrowers.
“We have learned a great deal from the reviews that have been conducted to date. However, it has become clear that carrying the process through to its conclusion would divert money away from the impacted homeowners and also needlessly delay the dispensation of compensation to affected borrowers. Our new course of action will get more money to more people more quickly, and it will speed recovery in the nation’s housing markets,” Curry concluded.
I recently reported on important relief available to homeowners facing foreclosure, paying more than their house is worth or those who have been foreclosed upon and lost their home.
As crucial deadlines are fast approaching, I am providing an updated summary of assistance available for struggling homeowners and other victims of unfair lending practices — and what you need to do to access it.
Remember, these programs matter but unless you take advantage of them, help is not available. A proactive approach is required.
Thousands of Floridians qualify for help. Below is a list of settlements and reviews that were created to help struggling borrowers. In some cases, application deadlines are coming up. If you miss the deadline, you will not qualify for relief.
If you believe your home mortgage foreclosure was conducted unfairly or mistakes were made, relief is available in several forms:
In April 2011, the Federal Reserve Board and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency took action against over 20 large mortgage servicers. If your primary home was involved in a foreclosure between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010, you may qualify for a free independent foreclosure review.
Independent fact-checkers will determine whether you were harmed by mortgage foreclosure errors or other problems and should be paid to make up for that harm. Borrowers seeking a review must apply by December 31, 2012.
The following mortgage servicers are participating in the Independent Foreclosure Review process:
- America’s Servicing Company
- Aurora Loan Services
- BAC Home Loans Servicing
- Bank of America
- EverBank/EverHome Mortgage Company
- Financial Freedom
- GMAC Mortgage
- IndyMac Mortgage Services
- MetLife Bank
- National City Mortgage
- PNC Mortgage
- Sovereign Bank
- SunTrust Mortgage
- U.S. Bank
- Washington Mutual
- Wells Fargo
- Wilshire Credit Corporation
“Homeowners who believe they were wrongfully injured by a foreclosure error in 2009 and 2010, should request a review,” stated Bryan Hubbard, an Office of the Comptroller of the Currency spokesman. “They give up no rights by requesting a review.”
In effort to assist with the application process, the Federal Reserve has put together a short “Independent Foreclosure Review PSA” video. The video provides program details in English and in Spanish.
For in-depth information on how to spread the word to your local area, please visit the community partner toolkit.
Last February, the U.S. Department of Justice and 49 state attorneys general announced a $25 billion settlement with five major banks over so-called “robo-signing,” in which foreclosure documents were signed without properly verifying their accuracy.
While not a perfect deal, the settlement offers meaningful relief for some homeowners in the form of principal or interest reductions, in addition to other relief.
The National Mortgage Settlement administrator recently mailed Notice Letters and Claim Forms to those borrowers who lost their home due to foreclosure between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011 whose loans were serviced by one of the five servicers: Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.
Impacted homeowners can now submit their claim form online. The deadline to file is January 18, 2013.
If you think you may be eligible, you can contact your bank directly for additional information:
Bank of America: 877-488-7814 (Available M-F 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Central Time.)
JPMorgan Chase: 866-372-6901
Wells Fargo: 800-288-3212 (Available M-F 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Central Time)
For more information, please visit the National Mortgage Settlement website or call them at 888-995-HOPE (4673).
“Whether it be through the Independent Foreclosure Review or the National Foreclosure Settlement, homeowners faced with a foreclosure should take advantage of this review,” stated Fort Lauderdale foreclosure defense attorney Carlos Reyes. “The process is free and totally without fee. Don’t let someone charge you for completing an application that you can complete yourself online in less than 30 minutes.”
Governor Rick Scott will announce Monday a promotion from within at the Florida Department of Corrections. Currently holding the number two spot as deputy secretary, Michael Crews will be elevated to the top position within the nation’s third largest prison system.
Crews will succeed Ken Tucker, whose retirement becomes official on December 28th. Like his predecessor, Crews was a long-time official at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement before switching agencies and joining the Department of Corrections.
Crews will be Scott’s third prisons chief in less than two years. Scott had previously selected Edwin Buss, a highly-regarded former Indiana corrections director. Following several clashes with the governor’s office, he was forced out after just eight months as secretary.
In following Buss, Tucker was seen more or less as a caretaker as he long ago planned to retire in March 2013 by entering the DROP program, or the state’s deferred retirement option program.
Turnover at the Florida Department of Corrections is not unique. The appointment of Crews is the sixth in six years for an agency that has been hit by scandal and controversy. For example, former secretary James Crosby is serving eight years in federal prison following a 2007 plea agreement involving kickbacks and bribes from a prison contractor.
Crews will take charge at a time when a state court dealt the agency a major setback by striking down the planned outsourcing of all inmate health care services for most of the state. The agency is appealing that decision.
With more than 100,000 inmates and an annual budget of more than $2 billion, Florida’s prison system is the nation’s third largest.
According to Melissa Sellers, a governor’s office spokeswoman, an official announcement of Crews’ promotion will be made early Monday.
As Christmas is approaching and Bill Lewis prepares to announce his New Years resolutions for 2013, interesting guests and timely topics will be on AM 740 WSBR and AM 1470 WWNN the weekend of December 17th and The Credit Report with Bill Lewis.
As a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues, The Credit Report with Bill Lewis can be found on AM 740 WSBR in south Florida. Hosted by Bill Lewis, the show broadcasts live weekdays at 7am.
Originally launched on AM 1400 WFTL in 2004, as the “Credit Restoration Consultants Hour,” Bill Lewis provided self-help tips and advice regarding credit repair, finances, and related topics. Throughout the years, Bill’s show strayed from the original concept of providing financial awareness to his listeners.
In an effort to strengthen his listener base and to broaden the topics hosted, Bill launched The Credit Report with Bill Lewis upon moving to AM 1470 WWNN within the Beasley Broadcasting group.
Listeners were searching for help regarding a myriad of topics from credit repair, extreme coupon shopping, and foreclosure matters, but welcomed the political format that Bill introduced locally to a south Florida audience.
Since the show’s inception, Bill Lewis has interviewed some of the country’s leading politicians, including: Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Herman Cain, Chris Christie, Jon Huntsman, Allen West, Rick Scott, George LeMieux, Jeff Atwater, Pam Bondi, Marco Rubio, Sharon Day, Alex Sink, Adam Putnam, Charlie Crist, Bill McCollum, Jeff Kottkamp, Jennifer Carroll, Christine O’Donnell, among others.
In addition, The Credit Report with Bill Lewis has hosted a number of politicians as well as attorneys and financial experts in the south Florida area. Among the dozens that have appeared on the show are Carlos Reyes, Al Lamberti, Chip LaMarca, Adam Hasner, Ellyn Bogdanoff, Tom Rooney, Roger Stone, Bob Davids, Lori Parrish, Richard Denapoli, Rico Petrocelli, Jamie McDonnell, Jim Lewis, Tom Lauder, and John Contini.
The Credit Report with Bill Lewis airs live, Monday through Friday from 7am-8am Eastern Time with an encore presentation Saturday’s at 3pm on AM 740 WSBR. Streaming audio is available at http://www.wsbrradio.com and on air participation is welcome at (888) 721-0074.
If you miss the early broadcast, The Credit Report with Bill Lewis is still available weeknights at 9pm Eastern Time, Saturday’s at 6pm and Sunday’s at 8pm on AM 1470 WWNN by streaming audio at www.wwnnradio.com.
Going head-to-head against Steve Kane and Jimmy Cefalo, Bill Lewis promises more “talk” and fewer commercials.
For daily updates on The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, you can join Bill’s 21,950 plus fans on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/thecreditreportwithbilllewis.