PSP Warns Fraudsters are Using Information Stolen from Private-Sector Data Leaks to Apply for Unemployment Compensation Benefits

(photo courtesy of Commonwealth Media Services)
 
Harrisburg, PA – Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier, Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) Bureau of Criminal Investigation Director Major Jeremy Richard, and Department of Banking and Securities Deputy Secretary for Financial Services Tim Arthun today reminded Pennsylvanians to be vigilant of fraud and the warning signs and steps to take if they become a victim.
“Fraud is an unfortunate byproduct of any disaster, and we are seeing the proof of that during the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said Secretary Berrier. “It’s frustrating that thousands of data breaches that occurred outside of L&I – and outside of the control of consumers who often had no choice but to give companies their personal data – are now resulting in widespread unemployment fraud attempts. We strongly urge everyone to remain vigilant about fraud and to notify authorities of any suspected fraud activity.”
Across the nation, fraudsters have been applying for unemployment benefits using stolen identities that were obtained in data breaches that occurred outside of state government. There were more than 11,000 data breaches that caused the exposure of more than 1.6 billion records in the U.S. over a span of about 15 years. Many individuals whose personal data was leaked during these breaches are unaware until a fraudster uses their identity to apply for unemployment benefits and they receive notification that a benefits application has been filed in their name.
L&I utilizes numerous fraud-detection measures, including using virtual identity verification vendor ID.me to verify the identities of all new unemployment applicants. Since the new UC benefits system went live June 8, we have prevented approximately $1 billion in state and federal dollars from being paid out to fraudsters.
L&I works with the National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force and other partners, including the FBI, Homeland Security and additional law enforcement agencies, the state treasury and the state attorney general’s office, to identify and block new fraud methods and stop fraud attempts.
“Realize it can happen to you,” said Major Richard. “If you have been a victim, don’t be embarrassed. Instead, report it to law enforcement. The Pennsylvania State Police works closely with its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to investigate fraud, identity theft, and scams. The sooner law enforcement knows, the better the chances are of recovering your money and catching the scammers.”
For more information on the Pennsylvania State Police, visit psp.pa.gov.
“Unfortunately, scams and fraud are growing more common while also becoming increasingly more sophisticated,” said Deputy Secretary Arthun. “If you are being contacted unexpectedly with a request for your personal or financial information with promises of something that seems too good to be true, it likely is.”
Anyone can contact the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities with questions or complaints about a financial transaction, company, or product at 1-800-PA-BANKS or using the online complaint form.
Visit www.uc.pa.gov and click on “fraud” to learn the warning signs of unemployment benefits fraud, how to report it, and the steps you should take if you become a victim.

Teleforum Thursday

On Thursday’s Teleforum radio program, Best of Beaver County host Mike Romigh is speaking on nutrition and food insecurity-Scott Tady joins Eddy after for notes on entertainment with the Beaver County Times entertainment editor-and Eddy will very likely make more obscure and obtuse references, entertaining himself while annoying and confusing others. Teleforum is 9 till noon every weekday on AM1230, AM1460, and FM99.3 presented by St. Barnabas.

Should Vaccinated People Mask Up with COVID-19 Cases Rising?

Should vaccinated people mask up with COVID-19 cases rising?
By CARLA K. JOHNSON AP Medical Writer
Top health officials in the United States are recommending that vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in places where the coronavirus is surging. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites new evidence that vaccinated people with breakthrough infections could carry enough virus in their noses and throats to infect others. COVID-19 vaccines greatly reduce the chance of severe illness and death and remain effective against variants, including the delta variant. But it’s still possible to get infected. Masking could prevent the spread of the virus to children too young for vaccination and people with weak immune systems.

Capitol Riot Arrest of Restaurant Owner Rattles Hometown of Kane, Pa.

Capitol riot arrest of restaurant owner rattles hometown
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN Associated Press
KANE, Pa. (AP) — Before the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, most people in Pauline Bauer’s rural Pennsylvania hometown knew her for the deep-dish pizza and ice cream she sells at her restaurant. After her arrest in May on riot-related charges, Bauer became a target for strangers’ scorn and a punchline for Stephen Colbert’s late-night talk show on CBS. Bauer believes most of her neighbors support her, but some residents of Kane, Pennsylvania, condemn what she did in Washington on Jan. 6. Colbert mocked her argument that she is “immune from laws.” Bauer has told a federal judge that she doesn’t want an attorney to represent her.

New Leader to Take over UPMC as Longtime CEO Retires

New leader to take over UPMC as longtime CEO retires
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The head of one of Pennsylvania’s largest employers, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, is retiring and the organization’s executive vice president will succeed him. Jeffrey A. Romoff has led the organization that would become UPMC since 1992 when it consisted of a handful of hospitals. He hands over the reigns of what is now a $23 billion health care system to Leslie C. Davis, who has been with UPMC for 17 years. That’s according to a Wednesday press release from UPMC. Davis will become president and CEO of UPMC on Sunday, and Romoff will serve as president emeritus during a transition period until Oct. 1.

Mike Sullivan named US men’s hockey coach for 2022 Olympics

Mike Sullivan named US men’s hockey coach for 2022 Olympics
By STEPHEN WHYNO AP Hockey Writer
Mike Sullivan of the Pittsburgh Penguins has been named U.S. men’s hockey coach for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. Sullivan will be behind the bench if the NHL participates. There is not a deal currently in place to send NHL players to the Olympics. Negotiations are ongoing. Sullivan coached the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup titles in 2016 and 2017. USA Hockey expects to name his assistants later this summer.

Baby Girl Elephant Calf Born at Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s International Conservation Center in Somerset

(Somerset, PA) (July 2021) —It’s a girl! An African elephant calf was born in the early
morning hours of July 18th at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s International
Conservation Center (ICC) in Somerset, PA. Both mother and baby are bonding and doing well. The healthy calf was born at just under three feet tall and weighed in at 218 pounds.
This is the first calf for new mom, Sukuri, who had no issues during her pregnancy and is very attentive to her newborn. The pregnancy was a result of natural breeding with resident bull elephant, Jackson.


“We are delighted that the pregnancy and birth went smoothly. Initial introductions are going very well, with both mom and calf staying close to each other,” said Willie Theison, lead elephant care specialist at both the ICC and the Pittsburgh Zoo. “As with any newborn, we are now tracking encouraging progress with parameters like weight, bloodwork, and feeding.”
The baby elephant is expected to remain with her mom at the International Conservation Center in Somerset. Both the ICC and the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium are operated by the Zoological Society of Pittsburgh.
The ICC is located on approximately 1,000 acres in Somerset, PA and is the only facility of its kind in North America that specializes in the care and breeding of African elephants. The ICC enables the Pittsburgh Zoo to play a major leadership role in addressing the needs for the species in North America.
Follow the Zoo on social media @pghzoo for photos and updates.

Unknown Truck Driver Shears off Safety Pillar Entering Oakmont Service Plaza on Pa. Turnpike

(File Photo)

(Oakmont, Pa.) Pa State Police in Gibsonia are reporting that they were called to Oakmont Plaza on the Pa. Turnpike  Monday evening, July 26, 2021, at 10:30 PM for reports of an unknown truck clipping the large yellow concrete safety pillar with its driver’s side and totally shearing the pillar from the ground.

According to a release the truck then continued into the plaza and briefly parked. A short time later the truck left the plaza without reporting the crash of notifying anyone of the incident.

Troopers stated in the release that they are continuing to investigate, and surveillance video showed the trucking company owner.  The driver of the truck is facing possible charges of accidents involving damage to an unattended vehicle or property.

Casey’s Civilian Conservation Corps Could Help Fight Climate Change

Keystone State News Connection

July 28, 2021

Emily Scott

HARRISBURG, Pa. – U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., wants to bring back the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public-works program from the 1930s that created 3 million jobs nationally, planting trees and creating trails and cabins in national parks.

The Revive the CCC Act, introduced last week by Casey, would focus on jobs to mitigate climate change and address racial justice. Unlike the original CCC, the proposal also would include farms as job host sites.

Hannah Smith-Brubaker, executive director of Pasa Sustainable Agriculture, said this on-site support could help farmers deal with flooding and erosion.

“Having help to install some of these conservation practices means a lot, because we know that the margin for farmers is really tight,” she said, “and so it’s sort of a win-win situation; we’ve got the help on the farms, but then also the ability to pass on this important information.”

This isn’t the first time a revival of the CCC has been suggested in Congress, and some budget pushback is expected. Under this bill, the jobs would pay at least $15 an hour and could create 57,000 jobs in Pennsylvania, according to a study by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute.

A Civilian Conservation Corps also could be helpful in rebuilding an economy hit hard by the pandemic. Pennsylvania’s labor market is short more than 400,000 jobs compared with February 2020 employment numbers.

Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center, said he thinks a new CCC could be a national opportunity for life-sustaining and meaningful jobs.

“These are really important jobs; people would be on the front lines of climate response,” he said. “If we get a CCC, I can guarantee you that you’re going to have members of Congress from both parties that are going to be doing ‘show-and-tells’ in their districts where the good work of the CCC is going on again.”

Casey’s legislation also supports pathways to employment in climate, conservation and related trades for formerly incarcerated people. Similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Transportation Funding Report Could Launch Years of Debate

Transportation funding report could launch years of debate
By MARC LEVY Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A transportation funding commission is preparing to recommend how to raise billions more dollars in Pennsylvania for a 21st-century highway system, a report that is expected to kick off a debate that could last years. The report, expected this week, was ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf in March to find ways to replace Pennsylvania’s gas tax. It is expected to contain a blend of recommendations, but the primary revenue-raiser will be a vehicle-miles-traveled fee. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Stan Saylor said it’s a difficult time to raise taxes and fees, as the economy rebounds from the pandemic, and he predicted no action before 2023, at the earliest.