Attorney General Warns Holiday Shoppers of Payment Card Vulnerabilities

November 24, 2014
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As the holiday shopping season gears up this week, Attorney General is warning holiday shoppers of payment card vulnerabilities.

“In the past, shoppers only had to worry about someone snatching their wallets, including their cash, and credit or debit cards,” said Attorney General Hood. “Now, credit card payment information can be stolen by invisible thieves who may have hacked into the retailer or restaurant’s payment system.”

Until updated payment card technology is implemented, consumers should exercise extreme caution when using debit or credit cards, especially debit cards. Debit cards are especially sensitive because the cards allow access to the consumer’s bank account. Recognizing an unauthorized user will be more of a challenge for retailers, banks and credit card companies with the high volume business the holiday season brings. To best protect yourself, here are some recommendations from the Attorney General:

  • Consumers should regularly monitor their credit card and bank statements especially during and following the holidays. It can take 7 to 10 days for a card to be reissued if it is compromised. As a result, shoppers need to be prepared to use cash in the event their card is compromised so that they are not prevented from completing their holiday shopping or essential purchases.
  • When shopping online, shoppers are advised to watch for unsolicited fake emails which are not related to their actual purchases.  Shoppers are encouraged to utilize credit cards or small amounts of cash when shopping in person. However, the Attorney General does not encourage consumers to travel with large amounts of cash.
  • Shoppers should use trusted websites and look for those with security certifications such as VeriSign or TRUSTe. A good rule of thumb is to look for an “s” in the website’s address line or the URL.  “HTTPS” indicates a safe and secure site.  Please keep in mind that U.S. law enforcement can assist you more easily if a problem arises with a U.S.-based online merchant rather than a foreign business.

Scammers will also try to take advantage by calling consumers regarding an alleged  breach or compromise and pretending to be a legitimate financial institution. They can even spoof and use the institution’s real phone number. Remember, your financial institution will never initiate a call to you and then ask you to verify your account or personal information on the phone. Consumers are advised to hang up the phone without talking to the person and immediately speak to their bank in person or call the financial institution on a phone number with which they are familiar, not the number provided by the scammer.

For more information on holiday shopping safety, see the Attorney General’s publication Holiday Consumer Safety Tips for Holiday Shopping available at www.agjimhood.com, under “media center”, then “publications”.


North Carolina Resident Arrested for Cyberstalking Two Mississippians

November 20, 2014
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A North Carolina resident has been arrested and charged with 10 counts of cyberstalking involving two Mississippians, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Roderick Arrington, 34, of Hamlet, NC was arrested Wednesday by the Rockingham Police Department and the Hamlet Police Department at his place of employment in Rockingham, North Carolina based on an investigation conducted by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit.

Arrington is alleged to have created fake yahoo email accounts from which he allegedly sent repeated, threatening emails to the two victims, both residents of Hinds County.

“We are unable to release more details at this time because the investigation is ongoing,” said Attorney General Hood.  “However, we do appreciate the assistance of the U.S. Marshal’s Office, Hamlet North Carolina and Rockingham North Carolina Police Departments—all of whom worked quickly upon being notified of our warrants in this case”.

Arrington is currently in the Rockingham Police Department jail pending an extradition hearing today.  If convicted of all the charges, he faces up to 20 years behind bars. As with all cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Deadbeat Dad Sentenced in Rankin County for Failing to Pay Child Support

November 18, 2014
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A resident of Richland has answered in court for his failure to support his child in Rankin County, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Richard T. Shields, 37, of Richland, pleaded guilty to child desertion Monday in Rankin County Circuit Court before Judge William E. Chapman III.  Shields admitted he has failed to pay $13,200 he owes in support of his two children.  As a result, Judge Chapman sentenced Shields to five years in custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with six months already served and 4.5 years suspended on supervised probation so that he could pay the $13,200 that he owes.

“This defendant can choose to work to pay what he owes for his two children, or spend time behind bars for being an irresponsible parent,” said Attorney General Jim Hood.

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Elliott Flaggs with the Attorney General’s Child Desertion Unit.


Fifth Circuit Agrees with State on Campaign Disclosure Laws

November 17, 2014
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The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has upheld the constitutionality of Mississippi’s campaign disclosure laws.  The Fifth Circuit’s decision Friday reversed a previous holding of the federal district court for the Northern District of Mississippi which had found Mississippi’s campaign disclosure requirements to be unconstitutional.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and Attorney General Jim Hood were named as defendants in the lawsuit and both were represented by the Civil Litigation Division of the Attorney General’s office.

“The Fifth Circuit has confirmed our belief Mississippi has reasonable financial disclosure requirements aimed at informing the public,” said Secretary Hosemann.

“We are grateful that the Fifth Circuit agreed with the State’s position represented by the attorneys in our Civil Litigation Division,” said Attorney General Hood.   “Campaign disclosure laws are important.  Voters are entitled to know who is spending money to buy advertisements to influence their votes.”

The lawsuit was filed in 2011 by a group of persons in Oxford, Mississippi who wanted to spend money to influence voters in connection with constitutional amendments appearing on the November 2011 ballot.  The Fifth Circuit recognized that disclosure requirements are particularly important when constitutional amendments are on the ballot.

“The initiatives on a ballot are often numerous, written in legalese . . . .  Disclosure laws can provide some clarity amid this murkiness,” notes the ruling (full PDF attached).

Click here for a copy of the Campaign Disclosure Laws.


Senatobia Resident Going to Prison for Sexual Battery of a Vulnerable Person

November 14, 2014
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A Senatobia resident has been sentenced to prison for the sexual battery of a vulnerable person, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Roy Wallace Thomas, 70, of Senatobia appeared before Tate County Circuit Court Judge Gerald Chatham Thursday to be sentenced after entering an open plea of guilty to three counts of sexual battery of a vulnerable person.  Judge Chatham sentenced Thomas on each count to 10 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, five suspended, five to serve, with five years on post release supervision.  The sentences are to run concurrent.  The defendant must also register as a sex offender upon release and remain on the registry for life.  Thomas was also ordered to pay a $500 fine, $100 to the Mississippi Crime Victim Compensation Fund and $200 to offset expenses associated with investigation and prosecution.

The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that the defendant engaged in sex at least three times with the victim, who  was in a mental health facility and with whom he had been appointed guardianship following the death of both the victims parents.  The crime occurred at Thomas’ home while the victim was on pass from the mental health facility.

“It is our duty to protect our orphans, our widows and our state’s most vulnerable,” said Attorney General Hood.  “I appreciate the Judge’s ruling which will finally get this defendant off the streets and out of this victim’s life.”

The case was investigated and prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.


Harrison County Man Arrested for Workers Compensation Fraud

November 12, 2014
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A Harrison County man has been arrested on charges of workers compensation fraud, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Richard Barry McDaniel, 53, of Gulfport, turned himself on Monday to  investigators of the Attorney General’s Insurance Integrity Unit at the Harrison County Sheriff’s office following indictment by the Harrison County Grand Jury on three counts of workers compensation fraud.

The indictment alleges that McDaniel did “willfully, unlawfully and feloniously make false or misleading statements or representations to CastlePoint National Insurance Company, for the purpose of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits, in that he did knowingly misrepresent to CastlePoint National Insurance Company, that he was not receiving a secondary income while receiving workers’ compensation benefits” in the total amount of $5,126.40 while allegedly employed at another place of employment and earning an unreported salary.

McDaniel was booked into the Harrison County detention center and is currently out on a $5,000 bond. If convicted, he faces up to three years for each count in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. As with all cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Larry Baker and investigated by Jerry Spell of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division/Insurance Integrity Unit.


Poplarville Resident Arrested for Possession of Child Pornography

November 12, 2014
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A Poplarville resident has been arrested for possession of child pornography, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Jeffery A. Davis, 55, of Poplarville, was arrested Tuesday by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit.  He is charged with one count of exploitation of a child for allegedly downloading child porn onto his computer.

Davis was booked into the Pearl River Detention Center and is awaiting a hearing. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years behind bars.  As with all cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Hinds County Inmate Sentenced for Aggravated Assault While Behind Bars

November 11, 2014
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A Raymond resident who is currently incarcerated for armed robbery and sexual battery has been sentenced for aggravated assault against a fellow inmate, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Mitchell David Bradford, 20, of Raymond, appeared before Hinds County Circuit Court Judge William Gowan Monday and pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for stabbing another inmate.   Judge Gowan sentenced Bradford to 20 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, 20 to serve, with five years to serve post-release supervision.  Bradford is currently serving a 20 year sentence for Armed Robbery and Sexual Battery.  The first 15 years of the new sentence will run concurrent to his original sentence. The defendant will then have an additional five years to serve consecutive to the prior sentence which will total to 25 years in custody with five years of post-release supervision.

The assault took place at the Raymond Detention Center on June 20, 2013. Bradford and one other detainee participated in the stabbing of another inmate with shanks made from pieces of metal found at the jail.  The victim was stabbed several times in the head, face and torso areas.

This case was investigated by Perry Tate and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Marvin Sanders of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division.