Detective Bureau Corner
If You Make or Buy a Fake COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, You Endanger
Yourself and Those Around You, and You Are Breaking the Law
The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), and the FBI are advising the public to be aware of individuals selling fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards and encouraging others to print fake cards at home. Fake vaccination record cards have been advertised on social media websites, as well as e-commerce platforms and blogs.
Vaccination record cards are intended to provide recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine with information about the type of vaccine they received and when they may be able to receive a second dose of the vaccine. If you did not receive the vaccine, do not buy fake vaccine cards, do not make your own vaccine cards, and do not fill in blank vaccination record cards with false information. By misrepresenting yourself as vaccinated when entering schools, mass transit, workplaces, gyms, or places of worship, you put yourself and others around you at risk of contracting COVID-19. Additionally, the unauthorized use of an official government agency's seal (such as HHS or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)) is a crime and may be punishable under Title 18 United States Code, Section 1017, and other applicable laws.
Because individuals may use fake vaccine cards to misrepresent themselves as vaccinated, we strongly encourage businesses, schools, places of worship, and government agencies to follow CDC guidance and continue to maintain social distancing and use personal protective equipment. If you did receive the vaccine, we recommend you do not post photos of your vaccine card to social media websites—your personal information could be stolen to commit fraud.
To report suspicious activity involving fake vaccination record cards, please contact the appropriate government agency in your state or jurisdiction, HHS-OIG (1-800-HHS-TIPS or www.oig.hhs.gov); or the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov).
- Porch Pirates
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and citizens quarantining as a result, online shopping has become more prevalent. Due to an increase in packages being delivered to the front doors of consumers, there has also been an increase in the theft of packages by culprits known as porch pirates. To combat the increase in thefts, below are a few precautions citizens can take to reduce the chances of being victimized or may help catch the culprit in the event your items are stolen.
- Take security measures at home by investing in an exterior surveillance system and/or video doorbell. Use the security window or yard signs that may be included in your security/doorbell packages. These signs can also be purchased online. When installing your camera system, ensure the camera is in plain view and the image covers the package drop off area. Video doorbells often have motion activated capabilities and have a vantage point that may be more helpful in identifying the culprit.
- Do not allow packages to sit outside if possible. Arrange to have your packages delivered to an alternate location such as your place of employment or a trusted neighbor’s house. You may also choose to pick up you packages from the delivery company’s local warehouse such as Amazon delivery sites, FedEx/UPS locations or your local post office.
- Request that your packages require a signature upon delivery and subscribe to delivery updates from the delivery provider. You may choose those options in your online customer account.
- Keep the area around your front door clear and visible. This removes the ability of thieves to conceal their self and likely target another location.
Although these precautions do not eliminate the chances of falling victim to porch pirates, it can reduce the likelihood of it occurring.
- Situational Awareness and it’s nexus to Personal SafetyWhat is Situational Awareness?
This is a term most often used by the military and law enforcement. Simply put, situational awareness or SA, is a frame of mind in which you are relaxed yet aware of your surroundings and also aware of whom or what could be of help to you if a problem were to arise.
Example: A young man who chooses to walk the long way around the block to get to his car to avoid a group of young males is not only observant of a situation that might pose a threat, but is also obeying his instincts and employing a sound “rather be safe than sorry” strategy.
Example: When out and about, someone hears or sees a vehicle being driven erratically. If that person has thought through their “What if?” scenarios for a vehicle- ramming attack, and this is indeed one in progress, they will have already mapped out where to move to / what to do.
What does “360 Mindset” mean?
Those who practice good situational awareness are also known to possess a “360 mindset.” Again, this is a law enforcement and military term that is used to remind us that our world is not linear. That is, it does not just go on in front, to the sides and behind us. Rather, our world is spherical, and we need to also be aware of what is going on above us and in some cases below too. My partners and friends from Special Operations always remind me to look “Up down and all around”.
Example: A woman walking through a mall cognizant of her “360” world takes a moment to visually scan the upper balconies. She sees someone whose body language does not sit well with her gazing down upon her. Having identified this potential threat, she will be sure to keep an eye out for that individual during her shopping day and she will be very cognizant of isolated areas and perhaps ask a security guard to walk her to her vehicle in the underground garage when it’s time to leave.
People who are relaxed yet aware of their surroundings and practicing good situational awareness are described to be in “Condition Yellow”.
A person who is oblivious of their surroundings is described to be in “Condition White” and usually only knows there is a problem when it is too late. This is also known as being a “step behind” and this person will not have the precious time to react on his or her own terms if something were to occur.
Apathy, complacency and denial are the three primary barriers to good situational awareness.
Military personnel use the term “Atmospherics” to describe the totality of the “feel” and body language of those in their environment. This is another way of describing situational awareness.
Criminals read our body language and are very astute at discerning those of us in Condition Yellow vs Condition White, as they move through their victim selection process.
Situational awareness training is at the heart of our approach to all our classes, as we attempt to get students to learn to live in Condition Yellow thus lowering their prospective victim profile.
Reproduced from https://www.personalsafetygroup.com/about/situational-awareness-training/
- Boating Safety
With the official start of summer just around the corner, so is the perfect weather for getting out on the waterways. We just want to discuss some general waterway safety and regulations for everyone to have a fun and safe summer on the water. Every person aboard a vessel under the age of 6 must wear an approved Type I, II, or III life jacket while the vessel is underway. Every vessel less than 39.4 ft in length must carry an efficient sound-producing device. Vessels are required to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and during periods of reduced visibility (fog, rain, haze, etc). All boaters must abide by the posted wake zones for their safety and that of others. When planning a day on the water make sure to check the weather forecast. Also depending on your vessel size make sure to check the tides to insure you are safely able to navigate your vessel under bridges. If you are the operator of a vessel avoid alcohol. Boating under the influence is against the law the same as operating a vehicle under the influence.
Wilton Manors Police recommends beginning boaters and experienced expert’s alike take a boating safety course to be familiar with the boating safety rules of operation. If you’re going to have your pet join you make sure you keep plenty of fresh drinking water available, and provide them a shaded area on the vessel to avoid excessive sun exposure. For more information visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.
A sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be IRS employees, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.
- IRS-Impersonation Telephone Scams
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a gift card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn't answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.
- Please See this page: Consumer Alert: Scammers Change Tactics, Once Again
Limited English Proficiency victims are often approached in their native language, threatened with deportation, police arrest and license revocation, among other things. IRS urges all taxpayers caution before paying unexpected tax bills. Please visit this page: IRS Alerts Taxpayers with Limited English Proficiency of Ongoing Phone Scams.
Note that the IRS doesn't:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying. Demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
The City of Wilton Manors has seen an increase of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or DRONE as they are commonly called flying around the City limit. Flying a drone can be exciting and fun but there are rules and regulations associated with flying safely and responsibly. Many don’t realize that, just because you can easily purchase a drone, doesn’t mean you can fly it anywhere.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first insists that all owners of a DRONE weighing between .55 pounds to 55 pounds must register their unit with the agency or face fines of up to $250,000. You can register at https://www.faa.gov/uas/. The following are some rules that you must abide by during flight:
- The maximum allowable altitude is 400 feet. The aviation authorities recommend flying below 400 feet or 121 meters and you are responsible for making sure that your drone stays within the safety limit at all times.
- Maintain visual line of sight, always make sure you can see your drone in plain sight, and check weather conditions as fog clouds can impede your vision.
- Don’t fly over crowds/people. Stay away from stadiums, public events, and community events where large groups of people may congregate.
- Fly in accordance with a set of community-based guidelines. Although the FAA is the sole authority on airspace, remember your city might have its own regulations on where you can take off within the city limit.
- Don’t fly after dark, dark is considered 30 minutes before official sunrise or 30 minutes after official sunset even if your drone has night lights.
- Lastly, be aware of controlled airspace. The city of Wilton Manors is located within five miles of two airports, Fort Lauderdale International Airport and Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (class C and class D airspace), because of these airspace restrictions there should be NO drone flying within the City of Wilton Manors unless you have an FAA remote pilot license and received proper authorization.
- Cyber Crime
criminals and this falls into the digital world. As we surf the World Wide Web people tend to get relaxed and forget about the digital sharks lurking. These digital criminals prey on people who aren’t making safe choices in this virtual world. These crimes are becoming more lucrative and popular because they are able to remain anonymous. This criminal does not have to be strong, fast, or have nerves of steel, because they can do the crimes from the comfort of their home. These criminals also know how hard it is to track them and this just fuels their feeling of being nameless.
The most prevalent item we would like to discuss is the emails that plague our inboxes on a daily basis. Emails can be a nice way to communicate and share information. They are popular in the business world because there is an electronic copy and the time stamp, date, and received information is recorded digitally. The problem is criminals know this and they can include viruses within the message. If you see an email that is from an unknown source, the best option is not to open the email and delete it. Another tip is to stay weary of emails address that you believe you may know. Something as simple as email@example.com versus john’firstname.lastname@example.org could be the difference between a friend and someone attempting to steal your information. There have been numerous instances of “retailers” sending emails requesting previous clients to provide a credit card number to keep on file. Furthermore, if the email is a solicitation that was not sought after then the offer really is too good to be true. We promise there is no Prince in Nigeria that has a billion dollars he wants to give away and that the Publishers Clearing House is not going to ask you for money upfront to claim a prize. Even simply opening the email and clicking the link could allow a virus to capture your most sensitive information.
We would also like to talk about telephone scams, because it falls under the anonymous identity that many digital criminals work under it is extremely difficult to track and follow. If anyone ever calls you and ask for sensitive information over the phone you can say NO! Places such as doctors’ offices don’t need your entire social security number. They can work simply off your last four digits in their medical billing system. The few extra steps it takes to employ these items can be time consuming for both parties involved, but in the long run it can help keep your identity “yours” and not the digital criminals victim.
There are many programs and services that are offered that can keep your identity safe. Depending on your budget and how many problems you have with the digital crimes will dictate what is best to keep your identity yours. But all these services are wasted unless “you” keep your personal information personal.
- Boating Safety
With the official start of summer just around the corner, so is the perfect weather for getting out on the waterways. We just want to discuss some general waterway safety for everyone to have a fun and safe summer on the water. Every person aboard a vessel under the age of 6 must wear an approved Type I, II, or III life jacket while the vessel is underway. Every vessel less than 39.4 ft in length must carry an efficient sound-producing device. Vessels are required to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and during periods of reduced visibility (fog, rain, haze, etc). All boaters must abide by the posted wake zones for their safety and that of others. When planning a day on the water make sure to check the weather forecast. Also depending on your vessel size make sure to check the tides to insure you are safely able to navigate your vessel under bridges. If you are the operator of a vessel avoid alcohol. Boating under the influence is against the law the same as operating a vehicle under the influence. Wilton Manors Police recommends beginning boaters and experienced expert’s alike take a boating safety course to be familiar with the boating safety rules of operation. If you’re going to have your pet join you make sure you keep plenty of fresh drinking water available, and provide them a shaded area on the vessel to avoid excessive sun exposure.
- Scammers Push People to Pay with iTunes Gift Cards
One thing we know about scammers — they want money, and they want it fast. That’s why, whatever the con they’re running, they usually ask people to pay a certain way. They want to make it easy for themselves to get the money — and nearly impossible for you to get it back.
Their latest method? iTunes gift cards. To convince you to pay, they might pretend to be with the IRS and say you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay back taxes right now. Or pose as a family member or online love interest who needs your help fast. But as soon as you put money on a card and share the code with them, the money’s gone for good.
If you’re not shopping at the iTunes store, you shouldn’t be paying with an iTunes gift card. Other payment methods scammers might ask for include Amazon gift cards, PayPal, reloadable cards like MoneyPak, Reloadit, or Vanilla, or by wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram. Government offices won’t require you to use these payment methods.
If you get targeted by a scam like this, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
Article by: Amy Herbert/Consumer Education Specialist, FTC