A Community Service Project

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Coffee Shop Math


Picture of a child practicing coffee shop math. Link goes to PBS' page on coffee shop math.
Try these fun math activities with children during your next visit to the coffee shop. These simple activities teach geometry, measuring, counting, and more!
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Stay One Step Ahead of Scammers

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Stay a Step Ahead of Scammers

Every day, you see new scams featured on the news or on social media, but is that information true? Tech scams, impersonation scams, travel scams—scammers are busy and it is a lot to keep up with. In fact, many scams are becoming more elaborate and seemingly more like legitimate opportunities. Many claim to be from a government agency, give you an identification number, and much more convincing details. They include upfront payments, threats of retaliation such as suing you, and other scare tactics.
Get reliable, accurate information about the latest scams and how to avoid them from the Federal Trade Commission blog. If you've been the victim of a scam, file a complaint with the FTC now
See the Latest Information About Scams
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Reba at the Opry September 22 Singing Songs of Faith and Hope

Enter for a chance to win a trip to see Reba on the Opry!

Solar Eclipse Tomorrow: Recommended Reading for Today: Sunday, August 20, 2017

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Stargazing 101

Illustration of Orion The Hunter constellation. Link goes to NASA's starfinder page.

Feel like stargazing this weekend? Have your kids make a Star Finder and learn your way around the night sky by finding some of the constellations. Download and print a starfinder for this month and find your favorite constellation.

Brought to you by USAgov, we connect teachers, kids and parents to government, schools and educational organizations' information and services.

Former CEO of Arthrocare Corporation Convicted for Orchestrating $750 Million Securities Fraud Scheme

Friday, August 18, 2017

Former CEO of Arthrocare Corporation Convicted for Orchestrating $750 Million Securities Fraud Scheme

A federal jury today convicted the former chief executive officer of ArthroCare Corporation, a publicly traded medical device company based in Austin, Texas, for his role in orchestrating a fraud scheme that resulted in shareholder losses of over $750 million.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr. of the Western District of Texas and Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs of the FBI’s San Antonio Field office made the announcement.
After a two-week trial, a jury in the Western District of Texas found the former CEO, Michael Baker, 58, of Austin, Texas, guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud, seven counts of wire fraud, two counts of securities fraud and two counts of making false statements. Baker was charged in a superseding indictment unsealed on July 17, 2013.
Evidence at trial demonstrated that Baker, along with his co-conspirators, masterminded and executed a scheme to artificially inflate sales and revenue through a series of end-of-quarter transactions involving several of ArthroCare’s distributors beginning in 2005 and continuing until 2009. Co-conspirators David Applegate and John Raffle, both former senior vice presidents of ArthroCare, pleaded guilty to multiple felonies in 2013 in connection with their participation in the scheme. Co-conspirator Michael Gluk, former chief financial officer of ArthroCare, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud on June 14, in connection with his participation in the scheme.

A WWII Vet Who Fought Nazis Takes on Trump

Si Spiegel is a Jewish-American War veteran who flew 35 missions as a bomber pilot over Germany in World War II.

We filmed a short ad with him about President Trump's appeal to hatred in the aftermath of the domestic terrorist attack in Charlottesville. He told us that he fought the Nazis once, and he'd do it again if he could. Today, we're happy to give him that chance to fight their belief and ideology through his story:

When President Trump sided with the Nazis in Charlottesville, he disgraced every single veteran who sacrificed to defend this nation from their hateful ideology. We are committed to elevate the voices of veterans who are willing to fight back. Your $10 donation to VoteVets helps us continue that effort. It's important, because our message is powerful.
All my best,
Will Fischer
Iraq War Veteran and Director of Government Relations

IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2017-21: Know Your Taxpayer Bill of Rights

Know Your Taxpayer Bill of Rights

Every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights and the IRS has an obligation to protect them. The “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” groups the taxpayer rights found in the tax code into 10 categories. Know these rights when interacting with the IRS. A good way to learn about them is by reading Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer.

Below are the descriptions of each right, as listed in Publication 1:
  1. The Right to Be Informed. Taxpayers have the right to know what to do in order to comply with the tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of the laws and IRS procedures on all tax forms, instructions, publications, notices and correspondence. They have the right to know about IRS decisions affecting their accounts and receive clear explanations of the outcomes.
  2. The Right to Quality Service. Taxpayers have the right to receive prompt, courteous and professional assistance in their interactions with the IRS. They also have the right to be spoken to in a way they can easily understand, to receive clear and easily understandable communications from the IRS, and to speak to a supervisor about inadequate service.
  3. The Right to Pay No More Than the Correct Amount of Tax. Taxpayers have the right to pay only the amount of tax legally due, including interest and penalties and to have the IRS apply all tax payments properly.
  4. The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard.Taxpayers have the right to raise objections and provide additional documentation in response to formal IRS actions or proposed actions. They also have the right to expect the IRS to consider their timely objections promptly and fairly and to receive a response if the IRS does not agree with their position.
  5. The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum.Taxpayers are entitled to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of most IRS decisions, including many penalties and have the right to receive a written response regarding the Office of Appeals’ a decision. Taxpayers generally have the right to take their cases to court.
  6. The Right to Finality. Taxpayers have the right to know the maximum amount of time they have to challenge an IRS position as well as the amount of time the IRS has to audit a particular tax year or collect a tax debt. Taxpayers have the right to know when the IRS has finished an audit.
  7. The Right to Privacy. Taxpayers have the right to expect that any IRS inquiry, audit or enforcement action will comply with the law and be no more intrusive than necessary, and will respect all due process rights, including search and seizure protections and will provide, where applicable, a collection due process hearing.
  8. The Right to Confidentiality. Taxpayers have the right to expect that any information they provide to the IRS will not be disclosed unless authorized by the taxpayer or by law. Taxpayers have the right to expect appropriate action will be taken against employees, return preparers, and others who wrongfully use or disclose taxpayer return information.
  9. The Right to Retain Representation. Taxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice to represent them in their dealings with the IRS. Taxpayers have the right to seek assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic if they cannot afford representation.
  10. The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System. Taxpayers have the right to expect the tax system to consider facts and circumstances that might affect their underlying liabilities, ability to pay, or ability to provide information timely. Taxpayers have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service if they are experiencing financial difficulty or if the IRS has not resolved their tax issues properly and timely through its normal channels.
The IRS will include Publication 1 when sending a taxpayer notices on a range of issues, such as an audit or collection matter. Publication 1 is available in English and Spanish. All IRS facilities will publicly display the rights for taxpayers.

Avoid scams. The IRS will never initiate contact using social media or text message. First contact generally comes in the mail. Those wondering if they owe money to the IRS can view their tax account information on IRS.gov to find out.

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Share this tip on social media -- #IRSTaxTip: Know Your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. https://go.usa.gov/xRpT7

FTC Scam Alert: False Promises From a Work-at-Home Scam

Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information

by Andrew Johnson
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

It’s hard to pass up a job opportunity that promises a large income and the flexibility of working entirely from home. Especially when the opportunity appears at the top of your online search results and includes video testimonials of success stories, making it seem legitimate. The problem is, most of these job opportunities are scams and won’t deliver on their promises.
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FTC Obtains Temporary Restraining Order Halting Work-at-Home Scheme

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Defendants falsely promised consumers they could earn thousands of dollars from home

At the Federal Trade Commission’s request, a federal court entered a temporary restraining order halting a deceptive work-at-home scheme. The defendants allegedly lured consumers into buying an online system, falsely promising that they would earn thousands of dollars in their spare time working from home.

According to the FTC, the defendants operated under various brand names, including Work At Home EDU, Work At Home Program, Work At Home Ecademy, Work At Home University, Work At Home Revenue and Work at Home Institute. They routinely claimed people could earn “hundreds of dollars per hour from home, without any special skills or experience.”

The defendants used online “native” advertising – promotional content that resembles the non-advertising material beside it – to reach consumers who were researching work-at-home opportunities on the internet. For example, they placed a link to their Work At Home EDU website near an article about working from home on the website Forbes.com.

Bobby J. Robinson, Michael Sirois, Bob Robinson LLC, Mega Export 2005 Inc., Mega Export USA Inc. and Netcore Solutions LLC are charged with violating the FTC Act and the FTC’s Business Opportunity Rule. The Rule requires business opportunity sellers to make certain disclosures to help consumers evaluate the opportunity, and prohibits such sellers from making earnings claims without adequate substantiation.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 2-0. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, entered a temporary restraining order against the defendants on August 8, 2017. The FTC has requested the entry of a preliminary injunction that would halt the scheme until trial. An evidentiary hearing on the request is set for August 24, 2017.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics, including business opportunity scams and what you need to know before starting your own business, and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Small business owners can also learn more at ftc.gov/SmallBusiness. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Contact Information

Frank Dorman
Office of Public Affairs

Roberto Anguizola
Bureau of Consumer Protection
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