Career Center Site May Expand — The Arlington County Board and School Board have created a joint working group to explore options for adding more high school seats at the Arlington Career Center Site near Columbia Pike. The working group will consider how the site “may be developed in phases to accommodate more high school capacity and new community amenities.” It will also “identify opportunities to expand the Career Center site by leasing space in adjacent buildings and/or through land acquisition.” [Arlington County]
ACPD Warns of Holiday Phone Scams — Arlington County Police are cautioning residents against automatically trusting phone calls claiming to be on behalf of charitable organizations around the holidays. Scammers falsely identifying themselves as charitable solicitors are trying to steal money and personal information. In particular, the police department says, calls claiming to be collecting money on behalf of ACPD are bogus. [Arlington County]
RIP Officer Irving Comer — “On Thursday, November 23, 2017, retired Officer Irving Comer, the first African-American to be sworn in as a police officer for the Arlington County Police Department, passed away at the age of 74.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
According to police, an unknown man called the woman, saying he had kidnapped her daughter and would harm her unless he received a payment. The woman called police, but not before withdrawing money for a potential ransom payment. Officers located the woman’s daughter and confirmed that the kidnapping claim was a scam, stopping any potential payments to the scammer.
More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
EXTORTION, 2017-11260099, 5200 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 12:05 p.m. on November 26, police were dispatched to a possible robbery by force. Upon arrival, it was determined that a female victim called the Emergency Communication Center after receiving a threatening phone call from an unknown suspect. The suspect stated that he had kidnapped the victim’s daughter and would harm her unless the victim provided the suspect with money. The arriving officer was able to contact the victim’s daughter and confirm that she was not in danger. The victim had withdrawn money, however, the suspect was unable to provide her with a method for transferring the money as officers had arrived on scene and interrupted the transaction.
Police said the incident followed a pattern seen in similar kidnapping scams that have been reported recently. ACPD offered the following tips for someone who may receive a phone call claiming to be from a kidnapper.
The ACPD wants you to stay safe and be well-informed. To avoid becoming a victim of this extortion scheme, look for the following possible indicators:
- Calls do not come from the kidnapped victim’s phone
- Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone
- Callers prevent you from calling or locating the “kidnapped” victim
- Ransom money is only accepted via wire transfer service
If you receive a phone call from someone who demands payment of a ransom for a kidnapped victim, contact police immediately.
Arlington County drivers will have been feeling the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma at the pump, with gas prices spiking by up to 30 cents a gallon or more locally.
Harvey hit oil refineries throughout Texas, with about one-quarter of oil refining capacity on the Gulf Coast being temporarily shut down, according to AAA. And in Arlington and elsewhere in the U.S., prices have spiked as the refineries get back up and running and damage to their systems and pipelines is assessed.
As of Wednesday, prices at the Shell and Speedway stations near Clarendon were $2.69 a gallon for unleaded gas, up from the former price of around $2.30 a gallon.
Despite a spike of around $0.30 cents since the hurricanes, Virginia remains one of the least expensive states to buy gas, at just over $2.50 a gallon on average, according to GasBuddy.com.
“As in any national or local state of emergency, AAA expects gas prices to be held in check up and down the gasoline supply chain, including prices set by refiners, distributors and dealers unless there is a clearly justifiable reason for an increase,” Jeanette Casselano, a AAA spokeswoman, said.
AAA is also warning anyone looking to buy a car to be careful of buying a flood-damaged used car. When major storms trigger flooding, thousands of totaled cars are shipped out of the affected area and can end up on the used car market elsewhere in the country. As many as a million vehicles may have been submerged by Harvey, AAA said last week.
Sometimes, buyers can be unaware a car has been repaired after being damaged by floodwater. Cars are meticulously dried out, scoured and scrubbed, then the title is “washed,” where it is moved from state to state until it is branded as repairable. They are then sold on by what AAA described as “unscrupulous sellers and fly-by-night operators.”
In a statement, John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs, said:
“Use your five senses to detect telltale signs a vehicle has been flooded. Then use your sixth sense. Look for a waterline under the hood, undercarriage and bumpers; for mud and debris inside the cabin and trunk; for signs of rust, and for fogging inside the headlights and taillights. Use your sense of smell to detect the scent of disinfectants or cleansing agents used to cloak musty smells or mold or mildew. Touch the carpet or floor mats for residual traces of wetness or for signs that the carpets, seats and interiors were recently shampooed.
“Listen to the engine to check if it runs smoothly, or runs rough, or makes abnormal noises as it runs. Also listen to the sound system, to check if the electronics are working properly, because some mechanical and electronic components don’t survive flooding. Curiously, the term ‘lemon,’ a slang first used to describe a ‘worthless thing’ and then ‘a defective car,’ stems from a metaphor for ‘something that leaves a foul or bad taste in your mouth.’ That could happen to you if you buy a flood-damaged vehicle.
“Then rely upon your intuition, instincts, and ‘mother wit.’ Flooded cars are not always totaled and 50 percent are eventually resold. But most of all, use your common sense, and always purchase a vehicle history report or obtain a free VIN report for any vehicle suspected of having a watery past.”
Sixteenth 9/11 Anniversary — A flag was unfurled at the Pentagon this morning as the nation marked the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford were among those expected to attend a ceremony at the Pentagon, honoring the 184 people killed in the attack there. Arlington County also hosted its own remembrance ceremony and is posting recollections from Sept. 11, 2001 on social media. [ABC News, Twitter, Twitter]
Another Police-Impersonation Phone Scam — Local residents are again getting calls from a scammer claiming to be a law enforcement officer, demanding a fine be paid over the phone. As a reminder, police never call on the phone to collect fines. [Twitter]
Arlington 9/11 5K Recap — The 2017 Arlington Police, Fire and Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K was held in Pentagon City on Saturday evening amid perfect September weather. Among those on hand to address the crowd were Police Chief Jay Farr, County Board Chair Jay Fisette and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore. Spotted among the runners: former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who was wearing a Navy t-shirt and was all smiles after the race as the occasional group of fellow runners asked to take a photo with him. [Facebook, Chronotrack]
Park Service May Revamp MVT Boardwalk — As part of a larger improvement project for Theodore Roosevelt Island and the TR Bridge, the National Park Service is considering rehabilitating the nearby, aging boardwalk bridge along the Mount Vernon Trail, which carries bike and pedestrian traffic. [The Wash Cycle]
County Holds Transportation ‘Pop Up’ Event — “Arlington Transportation Partners, the County’s business-to-business transportation outreach organization, held its very first ‘Our Shared Street’ Pop Up festival recently at Arlington Mill Community Center. The late August gathering brought together residents of Columbia Pike with local businesses to highlight Arlingtonians’ many transportation options.” [Arlington County]
GW Parkway Crash — Earlier this morning, northbound traffic on the George Washington Memorial Parkway was temporarily blocked near the TR Bridge following a multi-vehicle crash. [Washington Post]
Virginia’s State Corporation Commission is warning of investment scams as Texas and Louisiana begin to recover from Hurricane Harvey.
The SCC warned of Virginians receiving unsolicited emails, social media messages, pitches or telephone calls promoting investment pools or bonds to help storm victims, or to make investments in water-removal or purification technologies, electricity-generating devices and distressed real estate remediation programs.
“Disasters bring out the best in some people, but they bring out the worst in others,” Ron Thomas, director of the SCC’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising, said in a statement. “Fraudsters often follow the headlines to peddle their schemes. Be leery of unsolicited investment opportunities that seek to capitalize on Hurricane Harvey’s devastation.”
The SCC advised people to do the following:
- Delete unsolicited emails or social media messages and hang up on aggressive cold callers promoting hurricane-related investments, especially those from small companies touting unproven or new technologies or products.
- Don’t be pressured to make rushed decisions about investments you don’t understand. Before making a decision to invest, request written information that fully explains the investment.
- Don’t fall for unrealistic claims or offers touting guaranteed returns with little or no risk. Every investment involves some degree of risk.
- Do your homework. Contact the SCC’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising to check that both the seller and investment are registered. If they are not, don’t invest. Contact information is available on the division’s website at www.scc.virginia.gov/srf/srf_contact.
- If you suspect you are the victim of fraud, report it to your state securities regulator immediately.
Scammers are calling Northern Virginia residents, claiming to represent Virginia State Police and demanding money.
VSP is warning about the scam, saying it never collects fines over the phone. Those who get a call from a scammer are encouraged to hang up immediately.
More from a VSP press release:
Virginia State Police is warning Northern Virginia residents about a consumer phone scam that appears to come from the Division VII Headquarters in Fairfax.
In the scam, the caller states they are from Virginia State Police and threatens to arrest the recipient unless the recipient pays a certain amount of money, usually around $5,000.
Anyone who receives such a phone call is urged to hang up on the caller. However, these callers can be especially aggressive, making repeated calls in a short period of time.
Virginia State Police will never attempt to collect fines via phone.
Consumers are urged to use the following tips from the Federal Communications Commission when dealing with phone scammers:
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
- If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request.
- Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
- If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.
Consumers who receive such calls can file a complaint with the FCC online.
Police said multiple residents reported receiving phone calls from someone either claiming to be a Sheriff’s Deputy or with another local law enforcement agency, accusing them of failing to appear for jury duty.
The scammer then said a warrant for their arrest was to be issued unless a fine is paid over the phone.
Earlier this month, a reader reported receiving a call of this nature from a man claiming to be a Sgt. Jimmy Jackson with Arlington police. The reader said the caller did not ask for money right away, but instead stated that they had to schedule an in-person affidavit, and the money paid would arrange that.
Police and the Sheriff’s Office warned of a similar scam earlier this year.
More from an ACPD press release:
If you receive a call of this nature, immediately hang up with the caller and verify the claim by calling the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office at 703.228.4460. Never use a phone number provided to you from the caller to verify their credibility. Also, never provide personal information such as bank account numbers to anyone over the phone.
Subjects will use a variety of different phone scams and the Arlington County Police Department wants the public to be aware of the recent string of scams and past cases so you don’t become a victim. In addition to the recent jury duty scam, the Police Department has received fraud reports in the past regarding utility companies threatening to shut of services if not provided immediate payment; IRS collecting fees for unpaid taxes; and family members allegedly being held hostage or having suffered injury requiring payment. If you receive a call of this nature, please hang up immediately and report this information to the non-emergency line. Individuals seeking additional information about fraud can contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit at [email protected] or visit the police website.
Another scammer who claims to be serving an arrest warrant for a supposed jury duty mix-up is targeting Arlington residents.
A reader said a man claiming to be a Sgt. Jimmy Jackson with the Arlington County Police Department called her saying there was a warrant out for her arrest due to the mix-up. Police reported a similar scam earlier this year.
Unlike previous scams, the reader said the caller did not ask for money right away, but instead stated that they had to schedule an in-person affidavit. He said the money paid for reserving a time block would be refunded at a future court appearance.
Although the scammer name drops Arlington General District Court clerk Steven Robert Spurr and Chief Judge William T. Newman from Arlington Circuit Court, police said the badge number he cites — No. 3319 — is fake. County courts also always send any information for jury duty by mail or email.
Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said no badge number begins with the digits 33, and that police will never ask for money over the phone. Savage also encouraged any victims of fraud to report it at the county’s online reporting system.
The scam attempts “have been ongoing for several months,” a tipster tell ARLnow.com. It involves official-looking emails asking the organization’s treasurer to wire money.
On Friday, the Virginia PTA sent the following warning about the fraud to local organizations:
Please note there are fraudulent emails going to PTA units asking treasurers to transfer (wire) money to unknown accounts. Because they look to be sent from your PTA’s officers email addresses, please do not respond or wire money to unknown accounts without first doing due diligence on the request. This is happening quite often — even I receive them. They get names and email addresses from websites.
The tipster, who did not want to be identified, said that civic associations are also now receiving the scam emails.
“Recently the scammers have branched out to neighborhood associations,” said the tipster. “The citizens association that I am involved with has also gotten these emails.”
Sale of Reeves Farmhouse Moves Forward — From a press release following yesterday’s Arlington County Board meeting: “The Arlington County Manager today recommended that the County move forward with the sale of the historic Reeves farmhouse, and that the County not be a financial partner in the farmhouse’s restoration and reuse.” [Arlington County]
‘No Systemic Problem’ Led to High Water Bills — Arlington County says it has investigated resident complaints about unusually high water bills and found “no systemic problem.” Errors in billing or meter-reading were found in only five percent of complaints, the county said, adding that customer-side leaks and a hot and dry summer help to explain many of the remaining cases. [Arlington County]
Arlington Millennials Willing to Move — According to a new study, 77.5 percent of Millennials in Arlington say they would leave the region for the right job offer. That’s the highest response of any D.C. area jurisdiction surveyed. Millennials make up 35-40 percent of Arlington’s population, but real estate affordability remains a concern. Only 28 percent of Millennials in Arlington said they can afford to buy a home in the D.C. area. [Washington Business Journal]
Another Phone Scam Warning — Arlington residents are getting phone calls from scammers claiming to be Dominion Virginia Power technicians collecting unpaid electric bills. “In some cases, scammers have deliberately falsified the information transmitted to the victim’s Caller ID display to disguise their identity,” warns the Arlington County Police Department. [Arlington County]
Talk By Black Man Who Befriends KKK Members — Daryl Davis, a musician who befriends KKK members and convinces them to leave the organization, gave a talk in Arlington earlier this week. Of our current political climate, he said: “This is the best thing that has happened to this country because we have been so much in denial of racism in this country, xenophobia and all these kinds of things… Now we can no longer turn a blind eye to it.” [Fox 5]
Arlington’s ‘Cafe Urbanism’ — A new article in a publication written for state and local government officials asks poses the question: “Hip restaurants have helped revive cities. But is the boom fizzling out?” As a prime example, the article cites recent restaurant closures in Clarendon. [Governing]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin
ACPD issued a press release warning of a potential phone scam, after a report of an Arlington resident getting a call requesting a donation on behalf of the department.
More from ACPD:
The Arlington County Police Department has received one report of a citizen receiving a phone call from an individual requesting donations for various public safety causes on behalf of the police department. The Arlington County Police Department is reminding citizens that representatives of the police department have never and will never call to solicit funds.
Citizens should be suspicious of any unsolicited phone calls which request funds or claim that you owe money. Never use a phone number provided to you from the caller to verify their credibility. Do not provide personal information such as bank account numbers to anyone over the phone. For additional crime prevention tips, please visit our website. For additional information on fundraisers calling on behalf of police and firefighters, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.
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 [email protected] 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]