Police Warn of Jury Duty Scam — The Arlington County Police Department is again warning about a jury duty telephone scam targeting Arlington residents. The fraud involves a caller claiming to be a law enforcement officer and claiming that the call recipient failed to appear for jury duty. The scammer then demands the payment of a fine over the phone. [Arlington County]
Plow Plows Into Bus — Updated at 2 p.m. — One lane of Lee Highway was blocked for a period of time during last night’s evening rush hour after a minor accident involving an VDOT snow plow and an ART bus. [Twitter]
Vihstadt Speaks Out Against Gondola — County Board member John Vihstadt is not a fan of the potential gondola from Rosslyn to Georgetown. “Now is not the time to spend upwards of $90 million on a Disney-like gondola to Georgetown while current modes of public transit need significant new investment,” Vihstadt said earlier this week. [InsideNova]
Crystal House Renovated — Crystal House is a big apartment complex in Crystal City that has been around for a long time. Chances are, someone you know has lived there at one point or another. The 825-unit complex recently completed the first phase of a major renovation project and is showing it off via video and press release. [PR Newswire, YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
According to police, the scammers pose as motorists having car trouble. When someone stops to help, they say they need money and provide jewelry in return. The jewelry, however, is fake.
“With the holidays upon us, many are in the giving spirit,” police said in a press release. “For everyone’s safety and the guaranteed benefit of those in need, police recommend contributing to familiar organizations and charities in the community.”
The full ACPD press release is below.
The Arlington County Police Department is warning the public about scams involving fake gold. In two instances occurring in Arlington County, motorists have been flagged down by subjects to assist with what appears to be a disabled vehicle. The subjects then explain to the victims that they are down on their luck and are urgently in need of money. In exchange for the money, the subjects are providing the victims with fake jewelry.
Police are also aware of similar scams in the area in which subjects offer to sell several pieces of fake jewelry. While the victim is distracted, the subjects attempt to remove the victim’s real jewelry and replace it with fake jewelry. Citizens should be skeptical of anyone who approaches them offering to sell items such as precious metals or consumer goods such as electronics. Citizens should also be aware of their surroundings, remove valuables from plain sight, keep belongings such as jewelry close to their person and park in a well-lit, high-traffic areas.
With the holidays upon us, many are in the giving spirit. For everyone’s safety and the guaranteed benefit of those in need, police recommend contributing to familiar organizations and charities in the community.
Citizens who see a disabled vehicle in Arlington County should contact the Emergency Communication Center at 703-558-2222 to request assistance for the motorist. Individuals seeking more information about fraud can contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit at FinancialCrimes@arlingtonva.us or visit the police website.
It works like this: a scammer will call up and say you have a past due balance owed to Dominion, and will demand an immediate payment.
Dominion is warning customers of the scam in an effort to prevent them from falling victim.
More from a press release:
Last year, scammers contacted nearly 2,800 Dominion Virginia Power customers, demanding fraudulent payments totaling more than $1.2 million. Hundreds of customers fell victim, paying nearly $200,000 in response to threats of immediate disconnection of electric service.
“While we are working in concert with law enforcement to identify, track and stop these scams, it’s important for customers to recognize the red flags,” said Marc Gaudette, director-Corporate Security, Safety & Health. “Unfortunately, the scammers frequently target the elderly, non-English-speaking communities and businesses during their busy times and use caller ID spoofing software so a customer thinks Dominion is calling.”
“There are two clear signs that there’s a scammer on the other end of that phone call that you can easily spot,” said Becky Merritt, vice president, Customer Service. “First, we would never threaten a customer, even if their account is past due. Second, we would never insist on one specific, immediate form of payment — there are a number of options available to customers, including in-person at a verified payment location, secure payment through their online account, or our third-party payment processing vendor.”
For a list of authorized payment locations, click here.
Utility customers across the country are being targeted. Watch a video that describes these scams and how customers can recognize them here.
Customers are reminded to do the following:
- Ask questions and verify what you are hearing by checking your online account or hanging up and then calling us at 866-DOM-HELP. If an account is overdue, we provide multiple communications in writing and offers a payment plan before disconnection occurs.
- Remember that we do not require payment over the phone and never demand immediate payment of cash, PayPal, any prepaid debit card such as ‘MoneyPak/Green Dot’, or any gift card to avoid disconnection. Payment by phone is available through BillMatrix at 1-800-573-1147. (Note: customers will never be contacted directly by BillMatrix requiring payment.)
- Collect information from the scammer including the caller’s name, any phone numbers or other details before hanging up and reporting to local law enforcement.
For other tips about how to avoid scams, please visit www.dom.com/scams.
Dominion is one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 25,700 megawatts of generation, 12,200 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline, and 6,500 miles of electric transmission lines. Dominion operates one of the nation’s largest natural gas storage systems with 933 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves more than 5 million utility and retail energy customers in 14 states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company’s website at www.dom.com.
Civic Federation Debate — The candidates for Arlington County Board, School Board and Congress took the stage at Tuesday’s Arlington County Civic Federation meeting, marking the unofficial kickoff of general election campaign season. During the County Board debate, independent challenger Audrey Clement went on the attack against “backroom deals” allegedly facilitated by incumbent Libby Garvey. [InsideNova, InsideNova, InsideNova]
September Heat Wave — Temperatures are expected to soar into the upper 90s today, and the heat and humidity will stay mid-summer-like through Saturday. [Capital Weather Gang]
New Flight Path Closer to Arlington? — To appease unhappy Northwest D.C. residents, the FAA is considering a new northern departure flight path for Reagan National Airport that’s closer to Arlington. A community meeting will be held to discuss the plan on Tuesday, Sept. 13 from 6:30-9:30 p.m., at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington. [WUSA 9]
Outdoor Movies on the Pike — Four films are left on the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization outdoor movie calendar. Tonight, the critically-acclaimed film Brooklyn will be screened outside the Arlington Mill Community Center. [CPRO]
Clement Against Lubber Run Plan — County Board candidate Audrey Clement says it’s “inappropriate and unnecessary, given the county’s current 20% office vacancy rate,” for Arlington County to be planning to spend $46 million on a new four-story Lubber Run Community Center that will include new offices for the Dept. of Parks and Recreation. [Audrey Clement]
Beware the Cute Puppy Scam — Scammers are active on some local Facebook groups, trying to convince people to part with their cash and personal information to adopt a (fake) cute puppy from a (fake) man who can no longer afford to take care of it. [Fox 5]
Emergency Exercise at the Pentagon — The Arlington County Fire Department will be joining other agencies for an full-scale training exercise at the Pentagon today. The simulated helicopter crash and mass casualty response exercise will take place at the Pentagon heliport along Washington Blvd from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. [WTOP]
Police Warn of IRS Scam Calls — Scammers posing as local law enforcement officers or IRS agents have been phoning Arlington residents recently. “These individuals accuse the victims of owing money to the IRS which must be paid immediately using iTunes gift cards, or other means,” according to a press release. “In some cases, scammers have deliberately falsified the information transmitted to the victim’s Caller ID display to disguise their identity as the non-emergency police line.” [Arlington County]
New Ad Displays Coming to Metro Stations — The Rosslyn, Ballston, Crystal City and Pentagon City Metro stations will be getting new digital displays that will play video advertisements targeted at transit riders. [Borderstan]
Rental House Includes Tiki Bar — A listing for a rental home in the Ashton Heights neighborhood includes a “new tiki bar” in the backyard and off-street parking for four cars. The 4 BR / 3 BA home is listed for $4,500 per month. [Real House Life of Arlington, Zillow]
Actress to Campaign for Hillary In Arlington — Bellamy Young, who plays the First Lady on ABC’s “Scandal,” will stop by Hillary Clinton’s Arlington field office in Dominion Hills next Saturday morning, as part of a series of campaign events in Northern Virginia.
Zoning Board Rules in Favor of Gun Store — Arlington Board of Zoning Appeals has rejected a challenge to the Certificate of Occupancy for Nova Firearms, the gun store at 2300 N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park. A group of residents filed the appeal, claiming that the store’s owner submitted false information to the county. [Daily Caller]
Complaints About Aircraft Noise in Barcroft — Residents of Arlington’s Barcroft neighborhood are organizing a working group to address the issue of aircraft noise, particularly noise from low-flying helicopters. [Chamandy.org]
Another IRS Phone Scam — Arlington residents are reporting yet another phone scam. If someone calls you out of the blue, says they’re from the IRS and tries to get you to reveal personal information, it’s probably a scam. [WJLA]
New Leader for Arlington Arts Center — Holly Koons McCullough has been named the new executive director of the Arlington Arts Center. Previously, McCullough served as director of the Greater Reston Arts Center. [Washington City Paper]
New Director of Transportation for APS — The Arlington School Board has approved the appointment of Angel Garcia-Ablanque as the school system’s new Director of Transportation. He was previously Assistant Director of Transportation for Montgomery County Public Schools. [Arlington Public Schools]
Fundraiser at Celtic House — Celtic House (2500 Columbia Pike) is holding a fundraiser for two veterans organizations today. The Irish pub, an ARLnow.com advertiser, will be donating a portion of all sales today to Wings for Warriors and Links to Freedom.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Another Jury Duty Scam — Scammers are once against targeting Arlington residents with phony phone calls about jury duty. At least 15 cases were reported in September of residents receiving calls from someone claiming to be a law enforcement officer and demanding a “good faith” payment over the phone for failing to appear for jury duty. The calls are fraudulent and police are investigating. [Arlington County]
Deaf Inmate’s Lawsuit Against Arlington — A deaf Ethiopian immigrant says the six weeks he spent in the Arlington County jail was torturous. Abreham Zemedagegehu has a limited ability to read or write English, and as a result missed meals and went without needed pain medication during his stay. A lawsuit against the county, filed pro bono by the law firm Akin Gump, says the jail should have had a sign language interpreter. [Washington Post]
Arlington Wages on the Rise — Wages for those who work in Arlington rose 2.7 percent in the first quarter of 2015, higher than the national average of 2.1 percent. Arlington has the 10th highest wages among the largest 342 counties in the U.S. [InsideNova]
New Process Proposed for New Schools — The county’s Community Facilities Study Committee has made recommendations for a new “siting process” for new and expanded schools and county facilities. “The siting process is intended to improve upon current practices and function as a project management tool to make siting decisions efficiently, effectively and with ample community input,” according to a press release. [Arlington County, Arlington Public Schools]
Lots of Debates for County Board Candidates — The four Arlington County Board candidates are scheduled to participate in 14 debates in various parts of the county by the time election day rolls around in November. [Washington Post]
Va. State Police Cruisers Hacked — Computer security experts were able to hack into Virginia State Police vehicles, preventing the cars from starting or moving. The hacks were done as a security measure, as part of a state initiative to prevent future hacks of Virginia’s fleet of police cruisers and official vehicles. [Dark Reading]
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month — Today is Oct. 1, the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. “The Arlington County Police Department has partnered with Doorways for Women and Families, our community advocate, to bring attention to this worthy cause,” according to a press release. During October, many ACPD vehicles will display a purple ribbon donated by Doorways. Last year, Arlington police were called to 2,086 incidents of domestic violence, resulting in 196 arrests. [Arlington County]
Scammers Threatening to Kill Wives, Kids of Doctors — Scammers are calling Arlington doctors and pretending to hold one of the doctor’s family members hostage. The scam usually includes a woman screaming on the other end, pretending to be the doctor’s wife or daughter, and the supposed hostage taker making threats to kill her. So far this week at least two Arlington doctors have received the call. [MyFoxDC]
Hit-and-Run Driver May Have Been Intoxicated — Police are investigating whether the woman who ran over a man in a Columbia Pike parking lot may have been drunk and/or on prescription medication at the time of the incident. [NBC Washington – WARNING: Auto-play video]
Arlington’s Bike Path Snow Removal — With its new policy of clearing bike trails and bike lanes of snow, Arlington County is now “becoming a national leader in snow clearing,” said one county official. [Washington Post]
Dems to Hold Primary — The Arlington County Democratic Committee last night voted to hold a primary for the upcoming County Board race. The primary will be held June 9, and the first day for candidate filing is March 9. A School Board caucus, meanwhile, will be held May 14 and 16.
D.C. Streetcar System in Jeopardy — The D.C. Council is considering scaling back or ending the city’s streetcar program. The long-delayed, problem-plagued H Street NE line still does not have an opening date scheduled. [NBC Washington -WARNING: Auto-play video]
Flickr pool photo by Chris
County Board Nixes TJ Elementary Plan — The Arlington County Board voted last night to refuse to allow Arlington Public Schools to build a new elementary school next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, at least for now. Libby Garvey, a former school board member, was the lone dissenting voice on the 4-1 vote. She agreed with the school system that new elementary school seats are urgently needed in South Arlington. The board majority said the school system needs to go back and study alternatives again, since the elementary school could have negative impacts on the surrounding community. “You have to be a little more crowded for awhile,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes told school officials. [Washington Post, Arlington County]
Board Approves Overnight Gas Sales at 7-Eleven — Just down the street from Thomas Jefferson Middle School, on S. Glebe Road, exists a 7-Eleven convenience store and gas station that heretofore has not been allowed to sell gas from midnight to 6:00 a.m. The condition was put in place by the County Board in 1992, due to concern about traffic, noise and other neighborhood impacts. On Saturday the Board approved, with neighborhood support, a use permit change that will allow gas to be pumped 24/7. [InsideNova]
Board Approves Pentagon City Apartment Building — Also on Saturday, the County Board approved a new 20 story, 453 unit apartment building at 400 Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City. The developer of the project agreed to a nearly $10 million community benefits package and to building to LEED Gold sustainability certification standards. [InsideNova]
Jury Duty Phone Scam Returns — Once again, someone is calling Arlington residents, claiming to be a law enforcement officer and demanding payment over the phone because the call recipient supposedly failed to appear for jury duty. As it did last March, the police department is reminding residents that this is a scam. [Arlington County Police]
Octogenarian Still in the Marriage Business — Our Man in Arlington columnist Charlie Clark has a profile of Gerald Williams, who at age 82 is still performing 25-30 civil marriage ceremonies per week from a basement office in Courthouse. Williams was also profiled in a short documentary called “Arlington is for Lovers?” that was produced in 2010. [Falls Church News-Press]
Residents Getting Dominion Scam Calls, Again — Some Arlington residents are again reporting getting phony phone calls claiming to be from Dominion Power. Just in time for this week’s extremely cold weather, the scammer threatens to shut the power off unless the homeowner pays a supposedly overdue bill over the phone.
Child Sex Trafficking Case Had Arlington Connection — A Nevada man pleaded guilty in Alexandria federal court yesterday to charges of prostituting women and underage girls in various states including Virginia. Arlington is one of the Northern Virginia jurisdictions named as a place where the man, Lenny Haskins, plied his trade as a pimp. [Reston Now]
Rosslyn Red Hot and Blue Tchotchkes Moved to N.C. — Various equipment and memorabilia from the now-closed Red Hot and Blue restaurant in Rosslyn are being moved to a new Red Hot and Blue location in Cary, N.C. The Arlington location was the barbecue chain’s first. [Triangle Business Journal]
BBC Mentions Weenie Beenie — The BBC takes a look at the mysterious D.C. food phenomenon known as the half-smoke. The broadcaster points out that the Weenie Beenie in Shirlington, which opened in 1954, may have been the first in the area to start slinging half-smokes. [BBC Travel]
Arlington 13-Year-Old is a Web Cartoonist — Arlington student Cole Goco, 13, is the cartoonist behind a surrealist web comic about a boy, a talking ice pop and a pet turtle. [Washington City Paper]
Arlington Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy sent out an email this week warning residents and businesses that some have received scam letters requesting financial records and $125. From Morroy’s email:
“It has come to our attention that a mailing soliciting funds is being sent from an organization calling itself the Virginia Council for Corporations,” the email says. “This is a scam — there is no such council. Do not send money to the address provided on the mailing.”
The Virginia State Corporation Commission has sent out guidance that says the address for the fake council is identical to a similar scam from last winter, aimed at corporations from a company called the Corporate Records Service.
“A search of the Commission’s business entity records in the Clerk’s Office revealed no information about a company with the name Virginia Council for Corporations,” the SCC said. “The Solicitation Form looks somewhat like the annual report form prescribed by the State Corporation Commission and mailed to corporations of record in the Clerk’s Office of the SCC. Some corporations have confused the Solicitation Form for the Commission-prescribed annual report.”
Morroy encouraged anyone with questions or concerns to contact her office at 703-228-3060 or email email@example.com.
The online fundraiser set up to help Bill and Sarah Barkes — the survivors of the fatal house fire from earlier this month — has reached more than $70,000 in donations, but at least one scam artist appears to be trying to profit from the family’s pain.
According to an update on the Barkes family’s GoFundMe page, a Craigslist post was made by someone posing as a relative of the family under the guise of “collecting money through Paypal.”
The GoFundMe page is maintained by Joy Chadwick, the sister of the mother who died in the blaze trying to save one of her daughters, Emily, who also died. Chadwick has been updating the nearly 1,000 people who have donated to the cause in the two weeks since the fire. Chadwick wrote yesterday that Sarah was released from the hospital after more than a week in intensive care.
“[Bill Barkes] said the doctors were very excited about how fast Sarah was healing and at the this time no surgery is needed,” Chadwick wrote last week. “He said she is working hard on her physical therapy. If she continues with this progress she might be able to leave the hospital by Saturday. She is excited that some of her teachers are coming to visit her today.”
Chadwick wrote the family still has “not decided where they will live.” The cat that was missing after the fire was found and is currently living with Chadwick’s other sister, according to the page.
Construction to Begin on Ballston Garage — Local developer The Shooshan Company says it is beginning construction on a 550-space parking garage at 4040 Wilson Blvd, site of a planned 20-story office building in Ballston. The building is the final component of Shooshan’s Liberty Center development. [Washington Business Journal]
Clarendon Day Date Set — The annual Clarendon Day street fair will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27, the Clarendon Alliance has announced. This year the event will add a bluegrass music stage next to the Clarendon Chili Cookoff. The layout is also being changed “to make it easier for people to find the cold beverages of their choice.” [Clarendon Alliance]
VDOT Warns of E-Z Pass Scam — VDOT says some Virginia E-Z Pass users have reported receiving emails demanding payment for a past due debt. The emails are a scam, the department says. It’s unclear how the scammer obtained the email addresses of E-Z Pass holders. [Reston Now]
New Arlington Book Released — “We Are Arlington,” a book featuring 180 pages of photos and history about Arlington and Arlington residents, is now on sale. The author is Bill Hamrock, co-owner of Pasha Cafe and Billy’s Cheesesteaks in Cherrydale. [Preservation Arlington]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
“So many people already got in trouble,” Shamim Naseer, who received one of these calls, told ARLnow.com. “One of my friends said he paid them $6,000.”
Naseer said that at least four people she knows, including her son, got a call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent. One of her friends, Naseer said, got a call six months ago. The caller in each case told them to add money to gift cards within 10 to 20 minutes or else they would “get in trouble.”
“Some people just don’t know what to do,” said Naseer, who runs an in-home child day care service called Sunshine Day Care in Arlington. The scam may seem obvious to long-time American citizens, but is less so to “recent immigrants who are still figuring out how the tax system operates in this country,” said Sara Barker, a daycare client of Naseer’s.
An identical scam robbed a South Florida woman of $6,000 earlier this month, and a March press release from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said that thousands of people were victims of similar scams.
When Naseer got her call Wednesday, she knew not to believe the scam artist because customers from her sons’ Halal grocery store on Lee Highway warned her after receiving calls of their own, she said. She kept him on the phone so she could report details of their call to the police and the IRS.
After giving her a fake name, phone number and IRS ID number, the man asked Naseer if she had a lawyer. “Tell me what I did wrong first and then I’ll tell you if I have a lawyer,” Naseer said she told the caller. He said that Naseer had unpaid debt and needed to go to the bank to withdraw “cash money.”
“If I hadn’t heard about these scams before then I would have believed him,” Naseer’s daughter Amania, who was with her mother when the call came, told ARLnow.com. “He was so professional and very thorough.”
The caller wanted Naseer to go to Home Depot after she withdrew the $3,000 and add the money to gift cards. “He said, ‘put the phone on speaker so I know you’re taking out the money,'” Naseer said.
“I said, ‘there’s no point in talking to him anymore because I’m not going to do this,'” Naseer said. After she hung up, the caller called back twice. Naseer reported the call to the IRS, who said they received six similar calls.
Amania Naseer said that she was scared because the caller knew her family’s address. The caller also told them he would come to their house after Naseer paid to complete the “paperwork.”
The scam artist who called Naseer’s son said he was from his electric company, and that he would turn off power in their store unless they paid their supposed “bill” in 10 minutes. Naseer did not know if the same caller targeted her son, but she said he gave him the same set of instructions.
One of the victims Naseer knows is a government employee, according to Naseer. “He told me, ‘I’m working for the government too, so I’m hoping my money comes back,'” Naseer said.
The press release advised victims of these scams to report them to the Treasury Department at 800-366-4484 , or to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and add “IRS Phone Scam” to the online form’s comments.
Flickr photo by Marie Coleman
(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) A prospective Arlington renter nearly fell victim to a scam posted on real estate website Zillow last week, according to one Clarendon rental broker.
Matthew Leighton, a Realtor with Century 21 Redwood Realty, said he received a phone call from a renter inquiring about a Zillow listing for a a $950-per-month, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in the Station Square building at 1201 N. Garfield Street. The supposed “owner” of the condominium told the hopeful renter that she had moved to England and needed the deposit wired to her.
“Two bedrooms could easily get $3,000 per month at Station Square,” Leighton told ARLnow.com. “I was pessimistic so I asked the renter to send me the email correspondence (the Zillow ad is long gone). The scammer’s emails are filled with grammatical errors and outlines the intricate steps to lease the condo. You could go through almost every paragraph and pick apart the details which poke huge loopholes in this person’s story. Yet people are still responding to these ads.”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that being asked to wire money is the No. 1 sign that a rental scam is afoot. In the case of this scam, the victim was told to wire the deposit, after which a third-party shipping company would send them the key to view the apartment.
Leighton said the renter found him through a listing for another condo in the Station Square Complex and he “genuinely believed” he had gotten a good deal. The lister, however, didn’t provide a unit number, a full name or a phone number.
“Rental scams are out there and it can be difficult to decipher them from real listings,” Leighton said. “When in doubt, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
Leighton says rental scams are relatively rare on Zillow, which “is usually pretty good about deleting spam and scam listings.” More prevalent are rental scams on Craigslist, which have been the subject of coverage in national outlets like the Huffington Post.
Another potential Craigslist scam was just called out on the Washington, D.C. sub-Reddit. The alleged scam is an apartment listing that asks prospective tenants to undergo an online credit check — a process that would saddle the victim with monthly fees.
The FTC says that scams can come in the form of both fake ads or real ads where the contact info has been hacked and changed. Red flags include the lister being out of the country and requesting a third-party handle some details or money or asking for a fee or deposit before any documents have been signed. Scammers can be reported to the police or the FTC.
Photos via Google Maps (middle) and courtesy Matthew Leighton (top and bottom)