Scammers target college students: Pay IRS debt in iTunes cards or else – and they do

itunes-gift-card

iTunes cards are great for gifts or buying music, but if someone calls you and tells you the IRS needs you to buy hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth to pay off delinquent taxes, don’t. It’s a scam – one that has particularly targeted college students.

And if you’re thinking no college student is foolish enough to believe some cold caller demanding an iTunes payoff, you’re wrong again. Most recently, a freshman at Virginia Tech fell for it. Reporters in Dallas, Texas are catching wind of it. And even the IRS is tweeting out warnings about it.

 

The Detroit Free Press reports Maggie Passino, 20, first ignored the calls, but repeated rings wore her down. When she answered, a man claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service told her she owed back taxes and taxes for school – and if she didn’t pay them, she would be arrested.

“He said,  ‘You’re going to be receiving a call from 911 and if you pick that up, you’ll be arrested,'” Passino told the Detroit Free Press. “I’m a college student. Being arrested for a college student looks really terrible, so I was really worried. That can affect your financial aid … really mess up your life.”

Perhaps the tip-off should’ve come when the caller told her how to pay off the debt: with $1,762 in iTunes gift cards.

But Passino apparently didn’t pause. She told the paper she drove to a nearby Kroger grocery store and purchased three gift cards for $500 and $262 on a fourth using her debit card. “I was freaked out,” she told the Detroit Free Press. “It was horrible. It’s the first day of classes — and everything is already in jeopardy. … They’ve got the intimidation thing down for sure.”

The Free Press reports that once the targets buy the gift cards, the scammers ask their victims to read off the 16-digit codes on back allowing the scammer to cash the cards to accounts online.

On Sunday, the IRS tweeted that they don’t operate that way. No payments due by iTunes card, no arrest threats.

 

The IRS has previously urged the public to keep watch for phone call scams that require them to send money to avoid prison time.

Be on the lookout for other preposterous scams as well. This summer, for example, the Jupiter police warned not to empty your bank account for callers who say they’re holding a relative captive and demand cash.

Of course, not everyone falls for the scam, and at least one woman turned the game around, guilting a caller with a story of her own that made the caller so remorseful for trying to take her money that he confessed.

Read more at the Detroit Free Press.

Schools add new items to menus: Watch the taste test

Watch out, iceberg. Romaine is gaining on you. Tips on buying and storing romaine. Illustrates LETTUCE (category d), by Candy Sagon (c) 2004, The Washington Post. Moved Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2004. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Julia Ewan.) ORG XMIT: ORG XMIT: MER0705111205175978
Romaine lettuce is a new feature in school cafeterias this year.

The school district is adding some new cuisine to school menus this school year, which starts Monday. The items are meant to reflect the diversity among students and what they eat at home, district officials say.

One difference this year is salads. Romaine lettuce will replace iceberg, to increase nutrition. Here’s how the district’s taste test went:

Here’s the full list:

  • Asian green beans
  • Spanish rice
  • Beef & Bean Fiesta Burrito
  • Italian Sub Combo (Freshly made Sub w/ baked chips)
  • Ham & Cheese Sub Combo (Freshly made Sub w/ baked chips)
  • Turkey & Cheese Sub Combo (Freshly made Sub w/ baked chips)
  • Pepper Jack Mini Cheeseburger Twins
  • Romaine lettuce will replace iceberg lettuce in salads to increase nutritional value

 

Palm Beach County schools: Five stories this week you can’t miss

The St. Andrew's School in Boca Raton. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)
The St. Andrew’s School in Boca Raton.
(Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)

A lot happened in Palm Beach County schools this week, from an assistant principal accused by students of sexual harassment to a principal being removed from her position.

Here are the top five stories you need to read in education from this week:

  1. St. Andrew’s School: Worker’s ‘boundary breaches’ prompted sex abuse probe

    1. St. Andrew’s School, embroiled in controversy over a secretive sex abuse inquiry, revealed Thursday that one of its employees had “breached student boundary policies” but said it was unaware of any students who had been sexually abused.
  2. Students say Pahokee High assistant principal sexually harassed them
    1. An assistant principal at Pahokee Middle-Senior High School faces termination after accusations that he groped a female student and asked another one to send him pictures of her legs.
  3. Palm Beach Lakes High principal reassigned from school
    1. Embattled Palm Beach Lakes High School Principal Cheryl McKeever has been transferred from the school after a year of acrimonious battles between her and many of the school’s teachers.
  4. Palm Beach County educator embellishes record, gets top Pittsburgh job

    1. After 18 years as a Palm Beach County school administrator, Anthony Hamlet won the top job in Pittsburgh’s public school system last month with a resume boasting a series of successes at turning around struggling campuses. But some of Hamlet’s claims about his track record in the county’s schools appear to be misstatements or exaggerations, The Palm Beach Post has found.
  5. Report: Palm Beach County schools need $1.2 billion in “critical” repairs

    1. It will cost Palm Beach County’s public school system nearly $1.2 billion to make all of the “critical” repairs needed for its growing backlog of deteriorating buildings and equipment at 196 school facilities, a new school district report concludes.

BREAKING: PBC Commission, school board members approve new sales tax plan

Palm Beach County Commissioners vote 5-2 to eliminate economic development incentives and construction projects at cultural institutions from the split of money collected by a proposed sales tax increase during a public hearing at the Palm Beach County Governmental Center in West Palm Beach, Florida on March 1, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach County Commissioners vote 5-2 to eliminate economic development incentives and construction projects at cultural institutions from the split of money collected by a proposed sales tax increase during a public hearing at the Palm Beach County Governmental Center in West Palm Beach, Florida on March 1, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

During a joint meeting to smooth over differences, Palm Beach County commissioners and school board members agreed on a joint plan to raise the county’s 6-cent sales tax by a penny on the dollar.

Commissioners and school board members had previously agreed on the broad outlines of the tax increase, which would generate $2.7 billion over 10 years for repairs to roads, bridges, schools and county buildings. School board members expressed concern, however, when commissioners changed the plan, stripping out a combined $161 million in funding for cultural projects and for economic development incentives.

On Tuesday at Palm Beach State College’s Lake Worth campus, commissioners and school board members agreed to a revised plan, which includes a provision to end the tax early if $2.7 billion is generated earlier than 10 years.

What projects could be funded with from sales tax revenue?

Palm Beach County-wide projects, including county buildings

Municipalities’ projects, including roads and bridges

Palm Beach County schools, including repairing aging school buildings

>>RELATED: Full coverage of the proposed sales tax

Check with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later for more on this story.

-Wayne Washington

Four PBC high schools among top 50 in the state

Students Sarah Toth (cq), 16, and Christina Yaunette (cq), 16, examine their class schedules after picking them up in the gym at Suncoast High School Tuesday morning, the first day of classes in Palm Beach County and the first day of classes ever for the new school. (Lannis Waters/ Palm Beach Post)
Students Sarah Toth (cq), 16, and Christina Yaunette (cq), 16, examine their class schedules after picking them up in the gym at Suncoast High School Tuesday morning, the first day of classes in Palm Beach County and the first day of classes ever for the new school. (Lannis Waters/ Palm Beach Post)

Four Palm Beach County high schools found their way into the U.S. News rankings of the best high schools in Florida.

Suncoast Community High School in Riviera Beach (9), Alexander W. Dreyfoos Junior School of the Arts (10), Boca Raton High School (42), and Spanish River Community High School (46) were among the top 50 schools ranked by the site. Pine View School in Osprey, Design and Architecture Senior High in Miami, International Studies Charter High School in Miami, Edgewood Jr/Sr High School in Merritt Island, and Stanton College Preparatory School in Jacksonville rounded out the top five in the state.

The ranking considered 28,561 public high schools across the United States and was devised by U.S. News by looking at what the schools offer all of their students, not just the college-bound ones. The methodology also considers the school’s ability to help students do well academically and the schools’s graduation rate.

Both Suncoast and Dreyfoos also landed in the top 100 nationally.

Suncoast was ranked 57th nationally and earned gold status for its high marks in preparing students for college and its 99 percent a graduation rate. Dreyfoos came in at 66th nationally. It too did well in the college-preparation category and reported a 99 percent graduation rate.

Boca Raton High School was given silver status with a 51.8 percent college readiness index out of 100 and a 94 percent graduation rate while Spanish River Community High School had a 50.6 college readiness index with a 94 percent graduation rate — earning it silver status as well.

Suncoast and the Dreyfoos were also among the top schools in 2013’s rankings, taking  the 88th and 67th slots respectively.

Didn’t pass Alg 1 EOC (or the 10g FSA )? Here are your options

questions

 

Update March 2017: The testing season is in full swing with Alg 1 testing possible in Palm Beach County from April 17 through May 12, 2017. Expect results in early June.

The Alg 1 end-of-course exam (EOC) is the only state-required EOC a student must pass to graduate. Students must also take EOCs in Geometry, Alg. 2, biology and US History. The scores must weigh 30 percent of the calculation of a course grade, but a passing score is not required. (Legislation this spring proposes to cut some EOCs, but any testing changes would not be in effect this year.)

The other must-pass test for graduation: 

The 10th grade FSA ELA – that’s Florida Standards Assessment in English language arts, is the other state-mandated test students must pass to graduate.

So, let’s say you don’t pass…

WHAT’S NEXT?

Didn’t pass the Algebra 1 end-of-course exam or the 10th grade English/language arts test? These are your alternatives:

Take the same test and pass. Retakes are given several times a year.

Algebra 1: Get a comparative score of 97 on the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test or PERT mathematics assessment.

10 grade English/language arts:

Take the same test and pass. Retakes are given during the school year.

ELA: Get a concordant score of 430 on the SAT reading or 19 on the ACT reading.

Source: The Florida Department of Education.