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San Jacinto County News - Breakout

SJC residents beware of different scams

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BewareScams STOCK

GregCapersSheriffAs Sheriff, when I want to notify my partners in law enforcement that I’m looking for someone I put out a what we call, a “BOLO” (be on the lookout).

Today I’m putting out a BOLO for you to address some common challenges in your everyday life.

These are some common examples of scams and schemes that you need to be aware of.

Online Auction Site Scams

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Items sold at drastically reduced prices are often stolen. Example:

•You make a purchase online and agree to meet in person to pay with cash. The seller could rob the victim of their cash and potentially causing bodily harm and obviously the receipt of the item never occurs and fortunately the only thing you’ve lost is your money.

•You find a rental property online and meet with the person who placed the ad. Typically, you sign a bogus rental agreement, turn over your cash money and get the key to the house that the individual never had possession of who is a scammer with the potential of causing you bodily harm if things don’t go his or her way.

Identity theft and
theft of information

•You fill out an online form or handwritten credit card application, rental agreement, etc., from a company or an individual you are not familiar with. Potentially, the form is fraudulent, and you have just provided enough information for you to become a victim of identity theft.

•Credit card information can be stolen during an online hack or through devices placed on legal machines like ATM’s that are designed to extract personal information linked to your credit or ATM card. Be very suspicious of devices that are affixed to ATM machines that appears to be an “add-on” to the machine. If you suspect one exist, contact the bank or the retailer where the machine is placed.

•Once a suspect steals your personal information, they can create accounts, obtain credit in your name, or create fraudulent credit/bank cards and you may be held responsible. It’s not uncommon for an unsuspecting homeowner to have second mortgages obtained on their property or even listed for sale in someone else’s name.

Advance pay scams

Advance pay scams are one of the most common types of confidence tricks. You are asked for a small sum of money with the promise of a large pay out in the end. The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money in return for a small up-front payment, which the scammer claims will be used to obtain the larger sum. If the victim makes the payment, the scammer simply disappears with your money.

Ponzi/pyramid schemes

•Ponzi is a form of fraud that lures many investors and pays profits to “early investors” with funds from “more recent investors.” Named after Italian businessman Charles Ponzi, the scheme leads victims to believe that profits are coming from legitimate business activities, product sales or successful investments and they remain unaware that early investors are the source of profits. A small amount of money is taken from many people with the promise of a higher-than-normal rate of return. The victim will be asked to solicit funds from friends and family members.

Telephone scams

People lose a lot of money to phone scams, sometimes their life savings. Scammers have figured out countless ways to cheat you out of your money over the phone. In some scams they act friendly and helpful, and others, they may threaten or try to scare you. One thing you can count on is that a phone scammer will try to get your money and or your personal information to commit identity theft as well.

•Telemarketers offer great vacations or discounted products, and once the victim provides credit card information or bank details, the nightmare begins. Unfortunately, you are not likely to receive anything in return. As a bonus to the scammers, you have just provided them with enough information for identity theft as well.

•The caller might say you were selected and you’ve won a lottery. But you must pay some amount up-front to get the prize. It’s not a prize, it’s a scam.

•Scammers might pretend to be a member of law enforcement. They might say you will be arrested or fined for a crime you have no knowledge of if you don’t pay over the phone with a credit or debit card right away. If not, you should expect to be arrested.

•Scammers might identify themselves as IRS agents requesting a credit card or bank information to satisfy an old tax liability. Remember, the IRS never contacts taxpayers requesting payments over the telephone. Request of this nature are always through the U.S. Postal Service.

•You don’t need to decide now … Most legitimate businesses will give you time to think their offer over. Most often they will, upon request, provide you with written information about the offer before asking you to commit. Take your time don’t get pressured into deciding on the spot.

•Scammers will often ask you to pay in a way that makes it hard, if not impossible, for you to get your money back. Wiring money, putting money on a gift card, prepaid card or using a money transfer application is probably not a good idea. Anyone who asked you to pay that way is potentially a scammer.

To further assist you and your family in protecting yourself against unwanted phone calls and solicitations, consider the following:

“The National Do Not Call” registry was created to stop unwanted calls. It’s free to register your home or cell phone number. If you’ve already added your phone number to the registry and you are still getting unwanted calls, odds are the calls are potentially from scammers. To learn more about the National Do Not Call registry go to the following who U.S. Government website at www.donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222 where you will also be able to register if you have not already done so.

Scammers are criminals and if you think they are above physically injuring you or your family, think again. Their ambition is to steal your money at all costs and the use of physical force is in their playbook. Be very cautious and suspicious in dealing with strangers.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to call my office’s non-emergency telephone number (936) 654-4367 for assistance or in any emergency immediately call 911.

Greg Capers is sheriff of San Jacinto County.

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Focus on style coming up

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DidYouKnow ColumnHeadI am trying to make up for my lost hour of sleep after we moved the clocks forward. We have a lot coming up on San Jacinto County in the next month. Here are some of the events.

Women’s League will hold its Annual Style Show on April 13 at the Coldspring Community Shelter. Tickets are available at Coldspring Senior Center, call (936) 653-4175. Cost is $25 each and includes a splendid lunch catered by India Love.

This year the models will show fashion from Chico of Kingwood. This event is open to all and always has a wonderful silent auction. There will be a wide variety of items on sale as well as a bake sale section. If you live in Shepherd, you can call Mary Ann Pittman at (713) 823-6820 for tickets.

•The Coldspring Garden Club will make a field trip on April 6 to Rustic Ridge Garden in Willis. This business aims to help the gardener with plants and materials as well as inform gardeners about designing their gardens, smart ways to water and more.

Rustic Ridge Gardens have Butterfly Gardens, Fruit Trees, container gardens and a Gift Shop. Members who have not yet signed up or who want to include a friend, please call Wanda at (936) 891-1145. A box lunch will be available for $15, please reserve it if you want one. Meet at the Community Center at 10 a.m. Rustic Ridge has a website.

•Shepherd Library will have several interesting events in the next two months courtesy of a generous donation to the Friends of Shepherd Library by Marvin Green. You may remember I wrote about his new Shepherd Super Center ribbon cutting last week?

Mr. Green visited the library and talked to Director Terri McIntire about upcoming programs. She mentioned that some of the ideas she and assistant Crystale Thompson had would cost more money than they had, so he donated a generous amount to enable the Library to move forward with these ideas.

Registration is requested, call (936) 628-3515 or call in at the library.

The first event will be on March 17 from 2-3 p.m. Spring Break Lego Competition will be a build your own idea with Lego and win a prize if you are lucky. Remember this is St. Patrick’s Day so there may be plenty of luck around.

The next event will be on March 31 from 1-4 p.m. It’s an Easter Egg-Travaganza at the Library. The Easter Bunny will pay a special visit for photo ops, pictures will be $5. Games and prizes will be held through the afternoon. Please register so that the library can plan for the event goodies and games.

Tiny Tales Story Time is on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. through March and April. The Friends of Shepherd Library thanks Marvin Green for his making these and future events possible.

The Friends of Shepherd Library met this week and one of our new members is Marsha Brown. I met Marsha at a Coldspring Chamber of Commerce meeting some time ago where she talked about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. I wrote about this at the time.

If you missed the details, Dolly Parton started a Foundation to encourage very young children to learn to read. Parents can register their child at Shepherd or Coldspring Libraries. They can be registered at birth and will receive books every month till they are 5 years old. The books are free. Parents read to the children and then help them to learn to read.

The saying goes, “ From one to three years old we learn to read. From then onward we read to learn.”

Marsha Brown is a very interesting woman. I decided to talk more to her about herself and to learn how she became a valued part of our community. Born in Arkansas, she became an educator. Her husband worked all over the country and at one point they lived in El Paso while she taught in Juarez Mexico through the day.

Everywhere they worked, she found the library. I did the same thing, we both found how we could find out what was happening in the area at the local library, be it in a city or small town.

Marsha lived in Houston for 20 years. She became a widow and sometime later COVID struck and changed the way we lived. Her son lives in Coldspring, so she moved here and of course, joined the Coldspring Library.

She learned about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and asked the Library Board if they would consider joining the program. Of course, they agreed, and she became the representative for it. She came to Shepherd Library, and they joined. She now has 112 children registered into the program in our county and is working on adding more.

Marsha soon became a member of the Friends of Shepherd Library and also a Board member of Coldspring Chamber of Commerce. She is a wonderful addition to our community.

Contact the Shepherd Chamber at (936) 628-3890 or the Coldspring Chamber at (936) 653-2184.

Yvonne Cones is president of the Greater Shepherd Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Coldspring Chamber of Commerce.

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Luttrell introduces first bill in House

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Special to the News-Times

Rep. Morgan Luttrell official photoWASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Morgan Luttrell, R-Texas, on Thursday introduced his first bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Anti-Foreign Adversary Collaboration Resolution, which would prohibit Members of Congress from serving on boards affiliated with our foreign adversaries, such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran.

“China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran pose the greatest threats facing the United States’ national security,” Luttrell said. “If we continue to turn a blind eye to the nefarious actions our foreign adversaries, it will be devastating for our country.”

He said this legislation emphasizes the importance of a long-term focus on countering, curbing, and outcompeting foreign adversaries across the globe.

RSC Chairman Kevin Hern said America’s adversaries are using every tool at their disposal to undermine American authority on the world stage.

“Their influence reaches from academia to pop culture to corporate board rooms and social media,” he said. “We cannot allow nations who wish us harm to exert undue influence on our government, which is why I’m proud to join Morgan on this important bill. Members of Congress must be completely free and independent of any influence from America’s enemies.”

The Anti-Foreign Adversary Collaboration Resolution would prohibit members, officers, and employees of the House from serving on the board of directors of any entity which receives funding from, or is affiliated with, or owned, or controlled by China, Russia, North Korea, Iran or Cuba.

Following that, Luttrell introduced the Veterans Benefits Improvement Act and Veterans Compensation Cost of Living Adjustment Act of 2023. DAMA Ranking Member Rep. Chris Pappas, D-New Hampshire, co-led the introduction of the two pieces of legislation.

“We have an obligation to support the veterans who have served and sacrificed for our country,” Luttrell said. “The legislation I introduced today will make certain our veterans receive the highest quality care and support by ensuring they can access the benefits they deserve and are able to meet their financial needs, especially in these challenging times. I look forward to continuing to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to improve the lives of veterans and their families.”

The Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2023 would increase the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities, as well as the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain veterans as of Dec. 1, 2023. The increase in VA benefits would equal the cost-of-living increase provided for certain Social Security benefits.

The Veterans Benefits Improvement Act would make improvements to the requirement that the Secretary publish disability benefit questionnaire forms on the VA’s website for use by a veteran’s private provider. It also includes a report on improving access to travel reimbursement pay for veterans living abroad who must attend a disability exam. Additionally, this bill would improve communication regarding the scheduling of disability exams between contractors, veterans, and the veteran’s accredited representative.

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Commissioners hear update on buyouts

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SanJacCountySealBy Tony Farkas
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

COLDSPRING — San Jacinto County Commissioners discussed a grant designed to help homeowners recover from the damage done by Hurricane Harvey, and what it means to the property owners who have applied for help.

At the commissioners’ regular meeting on Wednesday, Tyler Smith, the vice president of community investment for GrantWorks, described the program and gave updates on its status.

Smith said the Hurricane Harvey Recovery buyout program, buy properties damaged in the hurricane for pre-storm fair market value, demolish the property to create open land and provide relocation expenses and incentives.

Of the 45 people choosing to participate, all have received an offer, and all are somewhere in the title process or near closing a sale, Smith said.

Sales will be closing within the next 8 weeks, he said.

Commissioners questioned the need to have the property owners out of the structure prior to closing, since once closed, grant requirements state the home must be demolished within 90 days.

Commissioner Laddie McAnnally said the court should have known this beforehand to be able to tell their constituents. Smith said that the county does have some flexibility in granting time to vacate, but the requirement was put into place to keep the county from become de facto landlords.

In other business, the county:

•approved application and signatories for a Texas Department of Agriculture grant;

•proclaimed April as Fair Housing Month;

•proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month;

•approved a contract with Avenu Enterprise Solutions for record keeping;

•approved terminating the contract with Aflac regarding the company’s billing and payroll deduction requests;

•approved DiAnna Adams as county investment officer;

•approved the county investment policy and procedures;

•approved to amend subdivision rules regarding easements;

•approved bond renewal for Robert Freyer Jr.;

•approved the fixed asset capitalization threshold to $5,000; and

•approved a contract with Bleyl Engineering for services on a grant to rebuild Fostoria Road.

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County noticing additional businesses

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DidYouKnow ColumnHeadIt is ribbon cutting time for bth Chambers. Coldspring held two this week. Deborah Black was welcomed to the Chamber. Deborah is an Avon representative; you can reach her at (713) 818-4432 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Jennifer Hoff of JLA Realty also joined. She and Jeri Bailey are both agents for JLA Realty and all three ladies are now also board members of Coldspring Chamber. Jennifer works in the Livingston office but lives locally. Her cell number is (713) 825-5890. The web site for the company is jlarealtylivingston.com.

In Shepherd, Shepherd Superstore owner Marvin Green was welcomed into the Shepherd Chamber of Commerce. This store is a big surprise on entering. Once Lakeway Store, it has been transformed into a bright, clean and fascinating place to shop.

New and some secondhand items fill the large space. Clothes, jewelry, decorative kitchen ware, furniture and decor along with toys and tools, artwork and bird feeders — the list is long. Everything is very reasonably priced, and Marvin and his sister Joyce offer a really special addition to the area residents looking for a bargain.

Call (832) 620-8700. Located at 11403 Highway 150 and Frontage Road going south on Highway 59.

•Coldspring Chamber will hold its quarterly lunch on April 25 at noon. The guest speaker will be John Fletcher of the Small Business Development Center. Call the Chamber office to reserve your place. Tickets are $15.

•Coldspring Garden Club held their meeting this week. Jessica Jones of the Lake Livingston Water Willow Project explained how volunteers helped with this event which is supported by the Trinity River Authority, Friends of Lake Livingston and Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Planting willow shoots along the shores of the lake serves many worthwhile endeavors. Fingerlings can hide from predator fish till they can grow. Water is purified by the plants which also clarifies the water. Floating islands have been constructed on the lake and all this effort helps to make the lake a place of learning for students from High Schools who help plant the Willow shoots. They also help propagate them in school.

It is a learning experience for everyone involved.

•On March 22 from 1-4 p.m., the Texas Division of the Disaster Recovery Roadshow has partnered with the County to hold a presentation in Coldspring. It will be at the County Shelter and all are invited, especially those who will deal with any disaster in our area.

First responders, elected officials, volunteer groups and private non-profits as well as those who work in maintenance and for the City or County are encouraged to attend.

The presentation will include programs which touch on recovery, grants, preparedness and much more. Personnel from our area involved with this Disaster Recovery program as well as state agencies will talk and answer questions.

Contact the Shepherd Chamber at (936) 628-3890 or the Coldspring Chamber at (936) 653-2184.

Yvonne Cones is president of the Greater Shepherd Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Coldspring Chamber of Commerce.

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