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Cops, Courts & Fire - Yardley Borough

County Crimes Against Elders Warns Its Tax Scam Season

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Provided by Bucks County Crimes Against Elder Adults office 

It’s that sometimes dreaded time of year again, tax filing season!  It seems as though every year there’s an ever growing list of tax related scams to be aware of and seniors are often the targeted.

The Bucks County Crimes Against Elder Adults would like to warn not just seniors but all Bucks County residents of some of the red flags to be aware of about tax scams. The Internal Revenue Service has also been proactive in providing tips and alerts on their website www.irs.gov  warning taxpayers of some common tax related scams to avoid.

The information in your tax return contains everything that a scam artist needs to steal your identity, file tax returns on your behalf, or even steal your refund. Be vigilant and never provide any sensitive information over the telephone. Many of us are aware of the scam calls claiming to be from the IRS and telling consumers they’ll be arrested if they don’t submit payment over the phone via gift cards. The IRS will never make contact in this manner nor will they ever ask you to pay a tax debt by wiring the money or purchasing gift cards.  The good news is the federal government has made some progress in combating these scam calls.  In recent years some of these scam artists, many located on the other side of the world, have been arrested and extradited to the US to face charges for their nefarious actions scamming consumer’s out of millions of dollars and impersonating federal government officials.

There are also many scams associated with filing your taxes. Below are a few tips to help avoid some of the more common tax preparation scams:

  • Be realistic. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. From companies that promise to file your taxes for free, to sites that claim you don’t have to pay tax because it’s unconstitutional–keep an eye out for deliberately misleading statements and always look for and read the fine print.
  • Be informed. Before you file your taxes, spend a little time at the website for the IRS, www.irs.gov.
  • Never respond to unsolicited e-mail offers or requests for information. The IRS does not use e-mail to communicate any personal information, and legitimate tax-preparation companies should not approach you with unsolicited e-mail. These messages are most likely identity-theft phishing scams.
  • Choose your tax-preparer or tax preparation software with care. Ask people you trust for recommendations. For more information about e-file partners and tax software, visit the IRS website.

Return Preparer Fraud: Dishonest return preparers can cause many headaches for taxpayers who fall victim to their schemes. Such preparers make their money by skimming a portion of their clients’ refunds and charging inflated fees for return preparation services. They attract new clients by promising large refunds. Some preparers promote filing fraudulent claims for refunds on items such as fuel tax credits to recover taxes paid in prior years. Taxpayers should choose carefully when hiring a tax preparer. As the old saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Remember that no matter who prepares the return, the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for its accuracy.

When it comes to preparing your taxes consumers should avoid unethical tax return preparers, these are known as “ghost” preparers. By law, anyone who is paid to prepare or assist in preparing federal tax returns must have a valid 2020 Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN. Paid preparers must sign the return and include their PTIN.

But “ghost” preparers do not sign the return. Instead, they print the return and tell the taxpayer to sign and mail it to the IRS. Or, for e-filed returns, they prepare but refuse to digitally sign it as the paid preparer.

According to the IRS, similar to other tax preparation schemes, dishonest and unscrupulous ghost tax return preparers look to make a fast buck by promising a big refund or charging fees based on a percentage of the refund. These scammers hurt honest taxpayers who are simply trying to do the right thing and file a legitimate tax return. Ghost tax return preparers may also require payment in cash only and not provide a receipt, this would be one of the biggest red flags to look out for. They may also invent income to erroneously qualify their clients for tax credits or claim fake deductions to boost their refunds or even attempt to direct refunds into their own bank account rather than the taxpayer’s account.

The IRS offers tips to help taxpayers choose a tax return preparer wisely. The IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications can help identify many preparers by type of credential or qualification. Consumers need to educate themselves on whom they’re hiring and know if you’re hiring a credentialed tax preparer or a preparer with more credentials such as Accountants and Certified Public Accountants, whose certifications can be searched through the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs.

Taxpayers can report abusive tax preparers to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If a taxpayer suspects a tax preparer filed or changed their tax return without their consent, they should file Form 14157-A, Tax Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit.

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Cops, Courts & Fire - Yardley Borough

Local Lawmakers Want to Expand DNA Sampling in Criminal Cases

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Last week a group of Bucks County Republican lawmakers with local authorities held a press conference to discuss changes they said need to be put in place regarding the collection of DNA from potential criminals.

State Senator Frank Farry state Rep. K.C. Tomlinson, Rep. Joe Hogan, Rep. Kristin Marcell, Rep Labs, joined First Assistant District Attorney Ed Louka, Bucks County Sheriff Fred Harran, Chief of Lower Southampton Police Department Ted Krimmel, and local law enforcement officials at Comic Collection, in Feasterville to discuss the importance of DNA technology in Pennsylvania’s Criminal Justice System.

Specifically legislation the legislators  are working on would expand the number of DNA samples in the criminal justice system by requiring post-arrest testing of anyone charged with a felony or certain misdemeanors.  This sample-taking would be much like the established process of taking an arrestee’s fingerprints.  Nineteen states currently collect post-arrest DNA samples.

The press conference highlighted the impressive work by the Lower Southampton Police Department in an investigation of a violent robbery at Comic Collection in September 2022, where a DNA match led to the charging of two Michigan men 18 months after the crime.

It will also in mind the importance of conviction integrity served by advanced use of DNA identification. A sample can prove the innocence of someone else who has been incorrectly accused or convicted and imprisoned for a crime when the DNA ends up matching someone.

SB988, and its companion bill HB2030, would also expand the collection of DNA samples for those offenders convicted of criminal homicide, which under Pennsylvania law are their own classification of crime and technically not classified as felonies. This legislation would close that loophole and require collection of DNA samples from these offenders to solve other cold case murders and crimes.

 

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Cops, Courts & Fire - Yardley Borough

Updated: Bucks 9-1-1 Call Center Under Cyber Attack, Investigation launched

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Updated: 7:15 am Tuesday January 23: 

In response to a request for comment Bucks County Spokesperson James O’Malley included a message sent out to police, fire and EMS chiefs, as well as local Emergency Management Coordinators, adding that the county has no further comment at this time. The message is below in its entirety in italics:

The Bucks County Department of Emergency Communications is investigating a cybersecurity incident affecting the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system.
 
All phone systems and radio systems remain operational, and all calls for service from the public are being received and dispatched to first responders without delay. All incidents are being documented using a backup system.
 
The CAD system has been offline since Sunday afternoon, and there is currently no projected timeframe for restoration. County IT is working to assess the issue and restore CAD service. The County has engaged state and federal partner agencies to assist in our response and investigation.
 
Automated resources powered by the CAD system will be unavailable for the duration of the outage.
 
Additionally, the County’s access to CLEAN and NCIC databases has been temporarily disconnected.  
 
We are requesting that radio communication be kept to essential transmissions only. We cannot field requests for incident times and suggest that responders attempt to maintain their times as best they can.
 
Updates will be provided as more information becomes available.

 

Original Story 

The Bucks County Computer Aided Dispatch system (CAD) has been down for more than 24 hours, multiple sources told Lower Bucks Source.

Sources said the reason for the system going offline is due to a cyber attack.

An email to county officials was not immediately returned late Monday night.

The CAD system went down, sources said, late Sunday afternoon.

911 Dispatchers use CAD, a source familiar with its inner workings said, to input and broadcast specific location information on incidents. The information goes to first responders helping to facilitate the  units dispatched to a given incident.  Part of the CAD network in Bucks County is linked to License Plate Reader (LPR) system which police departments use to check on motorists, sources told LBS Monday.

Officers are now taking down information with pen and paper.

A source with knowledge of the system being down said so far there have been no major issues in terms of communications, and it’s been “relatively quiet” in terms of major incidents in the county.

But how long can this keep, the source was asked, and they couldn’t respond with a concrete answer.

What is apparent is first responder services are being held hostage by cyber attackers, two sources said, and little to no information about the downed system is out there.

Versaterm’s Computer Aided Dispatch system (vCAD) for Police, Fire & Emergency Medical Services went live approximately two years ago.

Bucks County 911 Pennsylvania now supports more than 130 independent agencies, together responding to more than 600,000 calls for services each year, including 40 individual law enforcement entities, 60 volunteer and combination fire departments, and 17 emergency medical services, as well as a number of County-based and State-based agencies, says a Versaterm press release.

According to Diamond IT,  attacks of 911 call centers have been a growing and emerging problem over the last 10 years. 911 call centers have become a symbol of rescue and hope. But since 2014, that very symbol of safety has come under attack in cities such as Baltimore, Atlanta and Seattle, says one report from the cyber security firm.

Sources did say the full weight of the Federal Government is part of the cyber attack investigation, as of early Monday morning.

The  9-1-1 operations center is based in Ivyland Borough, and handles calls for municipal police departments, fire companies, and EMS squads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cops, Courts & Fire - Yardley Borough

Bucks County Domestic Relations Top 10 Most Wanted

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If you have, or you know someone who has, an active Domestic Relations Bench Warrant, you must call the Domestic Relations Warrant Unit at 215-348-6843.

Here is the current top 10 domestic relations most wanted

caldwell

DOB: 12/13/1979
Sex: Female
Height: 5’4″
Weight: 144 lbs.
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Blue

Last Known Address: Southampton, PA

DOYNE BW

DOB: 9/11/1981
Sex: Male
Height: 5’8″
Weight:  150 lbs
Hair: Bald
Eyes: Blue

Last Known Address: Morrisville, PA

Drago

DOB: 5/1/1996
Sex: Male
Height: 6’2″
Weight:  200 lbs
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Brown

Last Known Address: Bristol, PA

Feehan

Donald T. Feehan

DOB: 10/01/1974
Sex: Male
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 170 lbs.
Hair: Bald
Eyes: Blue

Last Known Address: Levittown, PA

Hammond

Michael Hammond

DOB: 4/26/1986
Sex: Male
Height: 5’07”
Weight: 255 lbs.
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Brown

Last Known Address: Levittown, PA

Meyer

Michael Meyer II

DOB: 7/17/1987
Sex: Male
Height: 5’09”
Weight: 145 lbs.
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Brown

Last Known Address: Levittown, PA

 

Nickum

Bryan Nickum

DOB: 7/23/74
Sex: Male
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 175 lbs.
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Brown

Last Known Address: Doylestown,

thornton

Ian T. Thornton

DOB: 4/23/1973
Sex: Male
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 180 lbs.
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Hazel

Last Known Address: New Hope, PA

Vincent Vitelli

Vincent Vitelli

DOB: 6/29/1989
Sex: Male
Height: 5’09”
Weight: 220 lbs.
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Brown

Last Known Address: Bensalem, PA

Harry P. Wallace, Jr.

DOB: 8/12/1968
Sex: Male
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 200 lbs.
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Blue

Last Known Address: Bristol, PA

If the defendant does not appear at a scheduled Domestic Relations event, a bench warrant may be issued for the defendant’s arrest.  The Bucks County Sheriffs will apprehend the defendant. Every attempt is made to notify plaintiffs when defendants are apprehended.

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