The North Carolina Department of Justice is warning citizens of a scam that targets veterans.
According to a news release issued this week, this scam exploits the Veterans Choice Program, a government initiative that allows some vets to use health care providers outside the VA system. The program has a toll-free telephone number that vets and their families can use to check their eligibility. Crooks have set up a telephone number that is almost identical, which they are publicizing in a letter to veterans.
Vets who call the fake number are told they are entitled to a rebate if they provide a credit card number. There’s no rebate, but charges will be made against the credit card account. The family of a North Carolina veteran received the letter and contacted the NCDOJ about this scam. Fortunately they did not fall for it.
Scammers commonly utilize look-alikes (logos and fonts that are similar to those used by real companies, agencies, and charities) and sound-alikes (names that are similar to the real thing) to trick us. In this instance, the “hook” is a telephone number that is very close to the actual number.
If you are a vet, or you are helping a vet access health care, remember:
Dial carefully. The real Veterans Choice Program number is 866-606-8198.
If you are not sure you are on the line with the actual Veterans Choice Program, hang up and start over.
Be skeptical. No government agency, including the VA, will ask for your personal financial account information in this way. If the person on the phone does, they may not be who they say they are.
If you are contacted by a scammer, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or by filing a complaint online.
21-year-old Austin Lane Ervin of Dudley Shoals Road in Granite Falls was arrested Thursday (May 18) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with possession of methamphetamine. Ervin was confined in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $3,000 secured bond. A District Court date is set for next Monday (May 22).
35-year-old Joseph Thomas Choate of 11th Street NW in Hickory, 27-year-old Ricky Chang Lee of Canoe Lane in Taylorsville, and 21-year-old Desiree Blake Icard of Baton Church Road in Granite Falls were all arrested Thursday (May 18) by Hickory Police Officers.
Choate was charged with felony parole violation and misdemeanor counts of resist, delay, and obstruct a public officer, and driving while license revoked. Lee is charged with two felony counts apiece of possession with intent to manufacture controlled substance and the sale of schedule two controlled substance. The charges are from Iredell County. Icard was charged with misdemeanor failure to appear.
At approximately 11:15 a.m. Thursday, Hickory Police were notified of possible suspicious drug activity at 1440 11th Street NW. Officers arriving at the location spotted a vehicle leaving the area and conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle in the 1300 Block of 12th Street Drive NW. During the traffic stop, the driver, Joseph Thomas Cory Choate, fled on foot from officers entering the residence at 1440 11th Street NW.
While giving verbal commands for subject to exit the residence, two additional suspects with outstanding warrants, Lee and Icard, exited the home. After officers made entry to the residence, Choate was located in a bedroom and was arrested without incident.
Choate was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under no bond, he's got a District Court date in Newton June 14. Lee's bond was set at $20,000 secured, he's scheduled to appear in District Court in Mooresville on Monday (May 22). Icard's bond was set at $1,000 secured, she's scheduled to appear in District Court in Newton June 28.
46-year-old John Nathan Thomas of East Highway 27 in Iron Station was arrested yesterday (May 18) by Hickory Police Officers. He's charged with one felony count each of first-degree sex offense with a child and indecent liberties with a child. The warrants for his arrest were issued by the Mount Holly Police Department in Gaston County.
Thomas was taken into custody without incident at about 6:15 p.m. Thursday at the Hickory Police Department. He was placed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under a $35,000 secured bond. He’ll appear in a Gastonia courtroom on Monday (May 22).
Although a section of a Caldwell County bridge being replaced fell into a pond, officials say the project remains on schedule. A news release issued by the North Carolina Department of Transportation say plans to replace the bridge on Falls Avenue over Old Mill Pond remain on schedule.
The bridge has been closed since Department of Transportation engineers deemed it unsafe on October 4, 2016. Plans remain in place — pending the ability to pave before winter sets in — to have residents and visitors driving on the bridge by early next year.
A short section of the closed bridge fell into Old Mill Pond on Wednesday (May 17). Plans to replace the bridge call for the demolition of the 75-year-old existing wooden structure in June.
A typical express-design project such as this takes up to 18 months to be designed, have right-of-way purchased, utility lines moved, and equipment mobilized. Most of that work has been completed in the three months since the contract was awarded.
Hickory Police were reportedly involved in a brief standoff this afternoon following a traffic stop. According to published reports, the incident occurred on 11th Street NW. The driver of the vehicle stopped by officers ran into a home. Reports say there were two individuals in the home with outstanding warrants, they were both arrested. No injuries were reported.
The pastor of an Alexander County Church was seriously injured in an accident earlier this week in Winston-Salem. 52-year-old Christopher Joseph Meade of Taylorsville was struck in a hit-and-run incident at Hanes Mall Tuesday (May 16).
According to published reports, at 7:40 p.m. Tuesday, officers responded to 186 Hanes Mall Circle, the outer loop at Hanes Mall, in front of the Texas Roadhouse restaurant.
Meade, who is the Lead Pastor at Crosspoint Church in Taylorsville, had left the restaurant and was walking to his vehicle with another person through the hedges that separate the restaurant parking lot and Hanes Mall Circle.
The published reports say that Witnesses stated that Meade cleared the hedges and stepped out into traffic on Hanes Mall Circle. He was struck by a white SUV that left the scene and headed toward the Olive Garden restaurant and possibly Stratford Road.
Meade was transported to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center with injuries considered to be life-threatening. An update on the Crosspoint Church Facebook page posted earlier today (May 16) said that Meade remained in the Trauma Intensive Care Unit. Police were looking for a white SUV with damage to the front right side and with possible damage along the right side of the vehicle.
Anyone with information regarding the accident should call Winston-Salem Police at 336-773-7700 or contact Crime Stoppers at 336-727-2800.
30-year-old Jonathan Todd Griffin of Liberty Church Road in Hickory was arrested Wednesday (May 17) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver counterfeit controlled substance, carrying a concealed gun, and intoxicated and disruptive behavior. Griffin was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $6,500 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for yesterday.
30-year-old Christopher Wayne Brown was arrested today (Thursday, May 18) by authorities in Lincoln County. He's charged with felony conspiracy. Following the arrest, Brown was placed in jail in Lincolnton under $20,000 secured bond. A court appearance was scheduled for today.
36-year-old Matthew Christian Eaker was arrested today (Thursday, May 18) by authorities in Lincoln County. He's charged with felony possession of schedule II controlled substance along with misdemeanor counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and driving while license suspended or revoked. Eaker was arrested on West Main Street in Lincolnton and placed in jail under $10,000 bond. A court appearance was scheduled for today.
57-year-old Mary Massey Roark was arrested Wednesday (May 17) by authorities in Burke County. She was charged with felony possession of schedule III controlled substance. Roark was placed in jail in Morganton under an unspecified bond amount. No court date was listed.
23-year-old Christopher Dalton Oberle of 21st Street NE in Hickory was arrested Wednesday (May 17) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with two counts of trafficking opium or heroin. Oberle was locked up in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $100,000 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (May 18).
The Morganton Department of Public Safety and the N.C. Department of Transportation will hold a ceremony to posthumously dedicate the Enola Road Bridge over Interstate 40 to Lieutenant Kelly Kincaid. The event will take place Friday (May 19) at 10 a.m. at Morganton Public Safety Station III at 840 Burkemont Avenue in Morganton. Speakers will include NCDOT Chief Engineer Mike Holder, Burke County Sheriff Steve Whisenant and local officials.
Kincaid served Burke County for more than 19 years as a lieutenant and shift commander in the Burke County Sheriff’s Office, a reserve public safety officer with the Broughton Hospital Police, and a reserve firefighter with the Morganton Department of Public Safety. Kincaid died as a result of injuries suffered while responding to a fire in his own neighborhood.
28-year-old Kimberly Nicole Freeman of Falcon Court in Lenoir was arrested Wednesday (May 17) by Granite Falls Police Officers. She's charged with conspire to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon. Freeman was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $5,000 bond. A Superior Court appearance is scheduled for July 10.
34-year-old Mark Alan Ramsey of Cordia Circle in Newton was arrested Wednesday (May 17) by Conover Police Officers. He's charged with possession of heroin, simple possession of schedule III controlled substance, possession of an open container, consuming alcohol in a passenger area, and allowing an unlicensed to drive. Ramsey was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $4,500 bond. District Court dates are set for June 7 and July 19.
39-year-old Mandi Uriah Smith of Devine Road in Iron Station was arrested Wednesday (May 17) by Lincoln County Sheriff's Officers. She's charged with two felony counts each of trafficking opium or heroin by sale, delivery, and possession. She was also charged with four felony counts of maintaining a dwelling for controlled substances and one felony count of sell and deliver schedule II controlled substance and possession with intent to sell and deliver schedule II controlled substance.
Smith is the owner of the J&M Discount Variety Store, located at 3485 East Highway 27 in Lincolnton. A news release from the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office says she was arrested for selling large quantities of opioid pain pills. The arrest comes less than two months after Narcotics Detectives raided the store. Smith was allegedly selling the pills from the business.
According to detectives, Smith sold trafficking amounts of opioid pain pills from the store during business hours. Detectives conducted a surveillance and undercover operation where pills were purchased on multiple occasions. Authorities believe Smith was making a substantial profit from the sale of the pills and the investigation will continue.
Smith was charged in March for trafficking opium or heroin, as well as multiple other felonies, after a search warrant at the store resulted in detectives seizing nearly one-and-one half pounds of marijuana, more than 70 grams of oxycodone pills, two handguns, drug paraphernalia, and over $13,000 in cash.
Following Wednesday's arrest, Smith was placed in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under a $478,000 secured bond. She was scheduled to appear in District Court today (May 18).
9Round Fitness will celebrate the opening of their new location with a ribbon cutting and open house this Friday (May 19). The ribbon cutting ceremony will begin at 11:30 a.m. The facility is located at 2923 North Center Street, Suite B, in Hickory.
Catawba Chamber members and the general public are invited to attend. There is no charge to attend the ribbon cutting and open house.
9Round offers a kickboxing-themed fitness program. The program consists of a proprietary system of nine challenging workout stations developed by a world champion kickboxer.
For more information, contact Kevin Bailey at 828-855-0955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
30-year-old Justin Isaiah Raby of Spring Lake Mobile Home Park in Granite Falls was arrested Tuesday (May 16) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged on a bill of indictment with felony larceny, possession of stolen goods or property, obtaining property by false pretense, and worthless check on a closed account.
Raby was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $15,000 secured bond. No court date was listed.
37-year-old Thomas Allen Gipson of 16th Avenue N.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at about 11:50 last night (May 16) on one felony count of assault inflicting serious injury including strangulation. He was also charged with three counts of misdemeanor larceny and one count of failure to appear on a larceny charge.
The assault charge comes in connection to an incident on April 12 of this year. The victim was strangled and was taken to Frye Regional Medical Center for treatment. At least some of the larceny charges originated in Gaston County.
Following his arrest yesterday, Gipson was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $30,000, secured. He’ll appear in District Court today on the assault charge. Additional court dates were set for June 5 & 6, plus a July 21 appearance in Gaston County.
27-year-old Antonio Carnell White of 11th Street S.W. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police shortly after midnight yesterday (May 16) on one felony count each of possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine, possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana and possession of cocaine, plus misdemeanor counts of driving while license revoked and resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer. Probation & Parole Officers also charged White with a felony probation violation.
He was arrested following a vehicle stop at the intersection of 1st Avenue S.W. and 4th Street S.W. Officers found one gram of crack cocaine, 4.9 grams of cocaine and 13.6 grams of marijuana. White attempted to flee on foot, but was taken into custody without further incident.
White is on probation as her serves a suspended sentence following a March 2015 conviction in Catawba County on felony drug charges involving schedule II and VI controlled substances.
He was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $70,000 secured bond. White was scheduled to make an appearance in District Court yesterday in Newton. He’ll appear in court on the probation violation on May 22 with another court date on the other charges coming up on June 1.