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Sheriff's Office warns of tax-related identity theft schemes
Each year the Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies receive reports of residents who discover that fraudulent tax returns have been filed in their names. With over 10 million personal records exposed in data breaches across America in 2014, Alabama ranks 14th in the nation for identity theft complaints.
According to the Alabama Department of Revenue, in 2013, 1.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft and tax refund crimes. As tax preparation is underway for many residents, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office would like to encourage residents to be vigilant in protecting their identities and aware of common fraud schemes that law enforcement encounters during this time of year.
Don't fall for common scams:
• An unexpected email purporting to be from the IRS is always a scam. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or social media to request personal or financial information. If you receive a scam email claiming to be from the IRS, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org
• An unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent, either threatening you with arrest or deportation if you fail to pay immediately, is a scam. In another variation, the caller requests your financial information in order to send you a refund. Report these calls and other IRS impersonation schemes to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484
• If you discover a website that claims to be the IRS but does not begin with 'www.irs.gov,' forward the link to email@example.com
Tips to protect your SSN and identifiable information:
• Keep your card and any other document that shows your Social Security number in a safe place; DO NOT routinely carry your card or other documents that display your number
• Be careful about sharing your number, even when you are asked for it; ONLY share your SSN when absolutely necessary
• Protect your personal financial information at home and on your computer.
• Check your credit report annually
• Check your Social Security Administration earnings statement annually
• Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches and change passwords for Internet accounts
• Protect your personally identifiable information; keep it private. Only provide your SSN when YOU initiate the contact or you are sure you know who is asking
If you think you might be a victim of a tax-related identity theft, contact the IRS 1-800-908-4490
Telephone Scam Alert – Involving Outstanding Warrants
On Tuesday, March 17, 2015, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office received a report from a local resident indicating that he had received a phone call from a female posing as a Shelby County Sheriff’s Office employee. The female told him that he had an arrest warrant through the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, and gave him a phone number to call to pay and have it cleared.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office would like to warn the public that no member of the Sheriff’s Office will ever solicit payment for a fine over the telephone. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office does not collect fines or solicit money for any purpose. Furthermore, the local, and state judicial system does not contact residents by phone to ask for personal information such as your Social Security number, date of birth or credit card numbers.
If you receive one of these phone calls, do not provide any personal or confidential information to these individuals, and do not offer payment over the telephone. If you have already been contacted and have already given out your personal information, please monitor your account statements and credit reports, and contact the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
Drug Task Force Arrests 14 in Warrant Roundup
The Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force (SCDETF) arrested 14 people during a warrant roundup on Thursday, March 12, 2015. The SCDETF conducted a long term investigation targeting drug dealers in the Alabaster and Montevallo areas.
The following suspects were arrested during the warrant roundup:
• Nicholas Caffey, 33, of Alabaster, was charged with three counts of Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance. He is being held in the Shelby County Jail with a $30,000 bond.
• Michael Anthony Campbell, 56, of Montevallo, was charged with Unlawful Possession of Marijuana 2nd. He is being held in the Shelby County Jail with a $30,000 bond.
• Tierra Tavarish Cathey, 32, of Montevallo, was charged with Drug Trafficking, Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance, Illegal Possession of Prescription Drugs, Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Receiving Stolen Property 3rd. He is being held in the Shelby County Jail with a $113,000 bond.
• Desmond Edward Cottingham, 35, of Montevallo, was charged with four counts of Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance. He is being held in the Shelby County Jail with a $40,000 bond.
• Paige Alexis Dillenbeck, 20, of Alabaster, was charged with three counts of Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance. She is being held in the Shelby County Jail with a $30,000 bond.
• Antwon Chevez Fitts, 35, of Wilton, was charged with two counts Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance and Unlawful Distribution of Imitation Drugs. He is being held in the Shelby County Jail with a $25,000 bond.
• Joshua Frantez Lee, 21, of Alabaster, was charged with two counts Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance. He is being held in the Shelby County Jail with a $20,000 bond.
• Karma Labue Mesamore, 28, of Calera, was charged with Unlawful Possession of Marijuana 2nd and Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. She is being held in the Shelby County Jail with a $2,000 bond.
• Joshua Steven McKay, 19, of Alabaster, was charged with three counts of Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance, Unlawful Possession of Marijuana 2nd, and Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He is being held in the Shelby County Jail with a $32,000 bond.
• Hakeem Rafi Mitchell, 23, of Alabaster, was charged with two counts of Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance. He is being held in the Shelby County Jail with a $20,000 bond.
• Wayne Stanley Moore III, 21, of Alabaster, was charged with three counts of Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance. He is being held in the Shelby County Jail with a $30,000 bond.
• Leonard Jerome Rutledge, 34, of Montevallo, was charged with four counts of Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance. He is being held in the Shelby County Jail with a $40,000 bond.
• Alfred Oneal Sampson, 28, of Alabaster, was charged with four counts of Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance. He is being held in the Shelby County Jail with a $40,000 bond.
• Benjamin Peter Strickland, 20, of Montevallo, was charged with three counts of Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance, Unlawful Possession of Marijuana 2nd, and Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He is being held in the Shelby County Jail with a $47,000 bond.
Additional charges and additional suspects are pending arrest warrants.
Capt. Kevin Turner, Task Force Commander, stated, “This is a huge impact for these communities and is an indicator that law enforcement is aware of the criminal activities taking place. We are taking the appropriate steps to address those issues. I hope this serves as a deterrent to drug dealers and other criminals who engage in this type of behavior.”
For more information regarding the charges, please click here and go to Title 13 - Criminal Offenses and Chapter 12 - Offenses Against Public Health and Morals:
To view a Shelby County jail inmate’s picture, their charges and bonds, go to www.ShelbySO.com and click on the “Inmate Listing” link at the bottom left. You may then type in the inmates last name and click on the “Search” button or, if you are unsure of the exact spelling, select the first letter of the last name to search for the inmate. An inmate’s information will not be available until he / she has been booked into the facility.
The SCDETF consists of law enforcement officers from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, the Alabaster Police Department, the Helena Police Department, the Pelham Police Department and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office. The SCDETF is funded by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and the Shelby County Commission.
The SCEDTF encourages citizens to report illegal activity by phone at (205) 670-0436 or by visiting its website, http://dtf.shelbyal.com. Citizens may click on “Tips” and submit their complaints. All information is anonymous.
Please direct any questions regarding this press release to Captain Kevin Turner of the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force, at (205) 670-0436 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shelby County Jail Prepares Female Inmates to Enter Workforce
Since 2013 a cooperative effort between the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and Central Alabama Community College has provided incarcerated female inmates with access to adult education classes. Because many inmates in county jails like Shelby County’s are incarcerated for a very short length of time on average, the full GED program is difficult to accomplish. Thus, the adult education program offered at the Shelby County Jail focuses on the students earning a Career Readiness Certificate (CRC).
Obtaining a Career Readiness Certificate will increase a person’s career or work-ready skills and provides businesses a tool to help them identify career ready employees. The ability to obtain their CRC while incarcerated in the Shelby County Jail means upon release the once former inmate will likely become gainfully employed in a shorter period of time.
Career Ready Certificates are earned in four different levels; Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Since inception, 57 female inmates at the Shelby County Jail have completed the program and earned various level certificates. One former inmate has even earned her National Platinum level certificate, the highest achievement in the program.
Sheriff John Samaniego is proud to be able to continue this highly beneficial program. “By utilizing proceeds received from our inmate commissary account and investing them back into jail programs like our Career Readiness Certificate, we are able to help those who have been out of the workforce re-enter with valuable knowledge and skills.”
For more information about this program, contact Captain Jay Fondren, Jail Commander, at (205)670-6141.
March 5th Citizens Sheriff's Academy class cancelled due to weather/travel conditions
Due to the potential of hazardous roadway conditions during the evening hours of Thursday March 5, 2015, the first class of the Spring Session of the Citizens Sheriff’s Academy, scheduled to begin on March 5, 2015 at 6:30 p.m., will be cancelled tonight. Residents are encouraged to avoid travel, unless necessary, until roadway conditions have improved.
Highway 280 re-opened
At 10:45 p.m. on Sunday March 1, 2015, all lanes of US Highway 280, in the 5100 block of Highway 280 in the city limits of Harpersville, are reported to be re-opened. Motorists are encouraged to use caution as law enforcement, along with fire and rescue crews, may remain in the area.
Highway 280 westbound lane closed due to motor vehicle accident
On Sunday, March 1, 2105, at 7:48 p.m., in the 5100 block of US Highway 280, in the city limits of Harpersville, the westbound lane of US Highway 280 is closed due to an automobile accident. Motorists are encouraged to use the alternate routes of County Road 76 or State Highway 25.
Please drive cautiously in the area as first responders are investigating the accident and attempting to clear the roadway as soon as possible. This release will be updated when the roadway is clear.
Weekend Vehicle Break-ins
During the evening hours of Saturday, February 14th, four vehicles were unlawfully entered in a residential neighborhood along Highway 280 and Dunnavant Valley Road. All four vehicles were left unlocked by the vehicles’ owners, to include one vehicle with the car keys left in the ignition. Items stolen include three packs of cigarettes and one .380 hand gun.
In November of 2013, the Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, and surrounding law enforcement agencies launched the crime prevention and awareness campaign titled, “Lock It. Hide It. Keep It.” Since that time, our Sheriff and his deputies have met with Home Owner Associations, City Councils, commerce groups, and civic organizations in hopes of sharing the underline message of this campaign, which is:
• Lock It: Lock your vehicle every time you leave it unattended.
• Hide It: If you don’t have a trunk, hide valuables under the seats, in the glove box, or other compartments within the vehicle.
• Keep It: Personal responsibility is the best prevention to safeguard personal property and to prevent becoming a victim.
To reduce your chances of being a victim, please remove valuables from your car at night and lock your car's doors.
Sheriff’s investigators are currently looking into leads that may possibly identify suspects involved in last Saturday night’s thefts.
Anyone with information about last Thursday night’s thefts is urged to contact the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office directly at (205)669-4181, through the Secret Witness line at (205)669-9116 or through our website at www.ShelbySO.com by clicking on the “Report Criminal Activity” link and choosing the “General Information” category.
Sheriff’s patrol deputies make arrest of out of state Identity Theft suspects during traffic stop
On Monday morning, February 9, 2015, at approximately 02:30 am, patrol deputies observed a suspicious vehicle leaving a business park area along Highway 280 near the Shelby/Jefferson County line. Deputies initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle for a moving violation. During their initial contact with the driver and two passengers, deputies observed a large collection of U.S. mail, some of which contained business checks.
After investigating further, patrol deputies identified multiple pieces of U.S. mail from local businesses along the Highway 280 corridor that were suspected to be unlawfully in the possession of the vehicle’s occupants. The three suspects were placed under arrest for the initial charge of Receiving Stolen Property. Sheriff’s investigators and U.S. Postal Inspectors investigated further, which has resulted in the three suspects each being charged with five counts of Identity Theft and one count of Receiving Stolen Property.
The suspects are 31 year old Nikkia Nichole Huff of Atlanta, Ga, 26 year old Daniel Verick Reed of Atlanta, GA, and 23 year old Jemarcus Demetrius Acholes of Atlanta, GA. All three suspects are being held in the Shelby County Jail, each with a $50,000 bond.
For information on the charges listed above, go to the link below and select Title 13 Criminal Code, Chapter 8, Section 192 as well as Title 13 Criminal Code, Chapter 8, Section 18
To view a Shelby County jail inmate’s picture, their charges and bonds, go to www.ShelbySO.com and click on the “Inmate Listing” link at the bottom left. You may then type in the inmates last name and click on the “Search” button or, if you are unsure of the exact spelling, select the first letter of the last name to search for the inmate. An inmate’s information will not be available until he has been booked into the facility.
Citizens Sheriff's Academy applications now being accepted
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is now accepting applications for its fifth Citizens Sheriff’s Academy (CSA) starting March 5, 2015. The CSA is a 12-week program designed to introduce and educate our citizens to the various law enforcement practices and procedures of the Sheriff’s Office including criminal investigations, laws and the court system, patrol division, drug task force, tactical response unit, and other special units of the Sheriff’s Office. Included in the program will be a tour of the county jail, an opportunity to complete a “ride-along” on patrol with a deputy sheriff, and an opportunity to receive basic firearms safety training on the Sheriff’s Office firearms range.
The academy is open to anyone 18 years of age or older who lives or works in Shelby County. Due to the nature of the CSA and the topics/activities presented, all applicants to the program are subject to a criminal background check and a driver’s license check conducted by the Sheriff’s Office as a condition for acceptance into the program. Classes will be held every Thursday evening from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Training Center at the end of McDow Road in Columbiana, AL. Class size is limited to 20 students. For CSA registration information visit the Sheriff’s Office website at www.myshelbyso.com.
For additional information regarding the CSA, contact Lt. Clay Hammac at email@example.com. The deadline to apply is February 24, 2015.