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New York AG investigating fraudulent net neutrality comments to FCC

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 3:19 PM

Surrounded by DACA recipients and immigration activists, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks during a press conference to announce the filing of a multi-state lawsuit to protect DACA recipients, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, September 6, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Surrounded by DACA recipients and immigration activists, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks during a press conference to announce the filing of a multi-state lawsuit to protect DACA recipients, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, September 6, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Tuesday that his office is investigating tens of thousands of comments posted to a notice of the FCC’s proposed change to net neutrality rules after learning that they were made by impersonators.

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The investigation was launched six months ago, after researchers and reporters learned that the comment process, which is integral to the agency’s procedure for determining such rule changes, was being usurped by fraudsters who submitted an enormous number of fake comments, Schneiderman said Tuesday in an open letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

“While some of these fake comments used made up names and addresses, many misused the real names and addresses of actual people as part of the effort to undermine the integrity of the comment process,” Schneiderman wrote. “That’s akin to identity theft, and it happened on a massive scale.”

He said that the identities of tens of thousands of New Yorkers were fraudulently used.

“Analysis showed that, in all, hundreds of thousands of Americans likely were victimized in the same way, including tens of thousands per state in California, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and possibly others,” Schneiderman wrote.

He said his office tried nine times over the course of five months to get records from the FCC necessary to investigate the apparent identity theft. He said his office and the FCC have shared information with one another before, but that despite offers to keep the records confidential, as done in the past, New York officials have “received no substantive response to our investigative requests.” 

“We all have a powerful reason to hold accountable those who would steal Americans’ identities and assault the public’s right to be heard in government rule making,” Schneiderman wrote. “If law enforcement can’t investigate and (where appropriate) prosecute when it happens on this scale, the door is open for it to happen again and again.”

He urged Pai and the FCC to “reconsider its refusal to assist in my office’s law enforcement investigation.”

“In an era where foreign governments have indisputably tried to use the internet and social media to influence our elections, federal and state governments should be working together to ensure that malevolent actors cannot subvert our administrative agencies’ decision-making processes,” he wrote.

Pai previously pledged to try to repeal the net neutrality regulations enacted under the Obama administration, which treat internet service providers as if they were utility companies that provide essential services, like electricity. The rules mandate that they give equal access to all online content and apps.

Pai distributed his alternative net neutrality rule plan to other FCC commissioners Tuesday in preparation for a Dec. 14 vote. Although the FCC’s two Democrats said they will oppose the proposal, the repeal is likely to prevail as Republicans dominate 3-2. The vote for net neutrality in 2015 was also along party lines, but Democrats dominated then.

Schneiderman said that his office’s investigation is not about net neutrality, but is instead about “the right to control one’s own identity and prevent the corruption of a process designed to solicit the opinion of real people and institutions.”

“Misuse of identity online by the hundreds of thousands should concern everyone – for and against net neutrality, New Yorker or Texan, Democrat or Republican,” Schneiderman said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Georgia sheriff: I don't care if you're from Wisconsin or need beer, stay home

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 1:13 AM

Safety Tips for Driving on Icy Roads

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office was back at it again with the jokes (and insults) as Georgia woke up to a messy wintry mix Wednesday, prompting schools, businesses and nearly three-fourths of the state’s roadways to close.

>> Is it safe to eat snow? Here's why you really shouldn't

Stay home. Just STAY HOME

Posted by Oconee County Georgia Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, January 17, 2018
 

State government offices are remaining closed for non-essential personnel Thursday across the 83 counties affected by winter weather, Gov. Nathan Deal said.

>> Tips, warning signs for frostbite, hypothermia

Although the weather’s no joke, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office brought some humor to its Facebook page on what many found to be a frustrating snow day.

>> 5 things you won’t want to leave in a freezing car

“I know you need cigarettes, beer and wine to get you through having your kids at home. Can you just do without for a day? Stay home,” one post read.

In another post, the office noted the multiple morning crashes due to the inclement weather. “Body shops and wrecker companies just love y’all.”

More from the Sheriff’s Office:

There is an incoming ballistic missile...er, wait. That was the wrong button. Ok. Got it now. Oconee County Government is closed today due to weather.

Posted by Oconee County Georgia Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, January 17, 2018

If a Deputy is directing you to not travel down a roadway, he or she probably has a good reason for doing so. The fact that you are from Wisconsin and “this ain’t sh..” is really not pertinent.

Posted by Oconee County Georgia Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, January 17, 2018

I know what y'all are doing. You looked out the window and saw your driveway and the 87 feet of road you can see looks...

Posted by Oconee County Georgia Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, January 17, 2018

>> On AJC.com: How to prepare your family, home and car for hazardous weather

While most readers lauded the sheriff’s office for its jokes, some found the announcements to be disrespectful.

“Government entity at its finest. Oconee, be respectful! We all feel what you are saying, however, some of the things you are saying are offense considering you are a government office and serving the public (those stupid beer and cigarette runners). Thank you!” commenter Wendi Turpen Hood wrote.

>> Read more trending news 

Another commenter, Nikki Giamarino, noted some serious implications of bad weather.

“My employer called off work. But what about people who’s employer didn’t? What about single parents who cannot afford to lose their jobs due to absence? I wish the world was a kinder place,” she wrote.

>> On AJC.com: Atlanta snow 2018: Twitter erupts in memes, jokes and snowy scenes

This isn’t the first time the Oconee Sheriff’s Office has garnered attention for its humor.

Following Georgia’s win against Auburn last month, the office wrote, “Show proof you graduated from Auburn and we will discount your speeding tickets by 5 miles per hour,” the post said. “Y'all have had enough of a beating today.”

In August, before the total solar eclipse, Oconee Sheriff Scott Berry warned residents to prepare for the end of the world. “It’s very likely this is the end of life on this planet as we know it,” he wrote.

Wells Fargo customers find accounts drained by mistaken double charges

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 11:49 PM

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Some Wells Fargo customers found their bank accounts drained to zero Wednesday when some sort of glitch caused their online bill payments to be processed twice.

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Numerous customers -- so many that Wells Fargo’s customer service phone lines were jammed Wednesday night -- were discovering that recent payments they had made using the bank’s online Bill Pay system had been deducted twice from their checking accounts.

In some cases, that sent customers’ balances to zero -- or below zero -- and triggered the possibility of overdraft protection fees. Some customers received email notices telling them that they now had no money in their checking accounts.

Customers who sat through the hour-plus wait to reach a customer service representative Wednesday night were being told that their accounts would be fixed overnight.

“We’re aware that certain Wells Fargo customers are experiencing issues with Bill Pay,” Wells Fargo communications manager Hilary O’Byrne said in a statement. “We apologize for this inconvenience, and are working to resolve the issue quickly.”

O’Byrne declined to say how many customers were affected or to describe how the double charges occurred.

In the meantime, customers took to social media to share their shock and frustration over not being able to access the money that should have been in their checking accounts.

Suspect sought after stealing SUV, abandoning children on freezing roads

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 11:21 PM

(WSBTV.com)
(WSBTV.com)

Authorities in Clayton County, Georgia, are searching for the person they say stole an SUV with two children inside from a gas station Wednesday before abandoning them in below-freezing temperatures on major roadways.

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One-month-old Ava Wilmer and 4-year-old Arya Davenport were found miles apart after mother Precious Wilmer’s 2009 Chevy Equinox was stolen about 5 p.m. from a QuikTrip on Riverdale Road, Clayton County police Sgt. Ashanti Marbury said. 

Precious Wilmer left the girls in the car with the engine running near a gas pump while she went inside the convenience store, Marbury said. 

She came out of the store and saw her car being driven away with her children in the back seat. 

Shortly into the search, Georgia State University police Chief Josephy Spillane found Arya walking down the shoulder of a roadway near I-285 and Riverdale Road, Clayton County polcie said. 

After roughly two hours, baby Ava was found in the middle of South Fulton Parkway still strapped in her car seat. 

Marbury said WSB-TV photojournalist Brian Ferguson led police to her after he saw an objecting sitting in the road on his way to cover the scene. 

The girls appeared to be OK, but were taken to Southern Regional Medical Center as a precaution. Metro Atlanta temperatures were in the 20s, but with winds reaching 20 mph, it felt like they were in the single digits, WSB-TV reported

Atlanta police later located Precious Wilmer’s stolen SUV on Metropolitan Parkway. 

No description of the suspect has been released. 

Steve Bannon strikes deal in Mueller probe: reports

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 10:14 AM

Steve Bannon Makes Deal With Robert Mueller

Steve Bannon has struck a deal to be interviewed by a special prosecutor in the Robert Mueller investigation, according to reports.

>> Read more trending news

Check back for the latest updates in this developing story.