MONEY identity theft

Here Are the Places Where You’re Most Likely to Get Your Identity Stolen

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Robert Hadfield

Watch out in Florida.

Fraud can happen anywhere, but certain places seem to have it worse than others. The Federal Trade Commission recently published its annual report on consumer complaints, and it includes rankings for cities with the most fraud reports, and in a separate list, the most identity theft reports. Did your hometown make the top 10 list?

Florida dominated the identity theft list: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach was No. 1 with 316 identity theft complaints per 100,000 residents. In fact, it was a runaway leader. No. 2 was Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, with just a hair over 200 per 100,000.

Three other Florida locales made the top 10 identity theft complaints list — Tallahassee at No. 4, Naples at No. 5, and Jacksonville at No. 10. It should come as no surprise that Florida was also the No. 1 state for identity theft complaints. And this is no short-term issue. Miami was also No. 1 for ID theft last year; Naples, Tallahassee, Port St. Lucie and Tampa all made the top 10 list in 2013.

Largest Metropolitan Areas for Identity Theft-Related Consumer Complaints

  1. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla.
  2. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.
  3. St. Louis, Mo.-Ill.
  4. Tallahassee, Fla.
  5. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Fla.
  6. Olympia-Tumwater, Wash.
  7. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash.
  8. Pueblo, Colo.
  9. Jacksonville, Fla.
  10. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich.

As for the generic category of “fraud and other” complaints, which excludes identity theft reports, Florida didn’t fare quite as badly. Only Homosassa Springs at No. 2 cracked the top 10, with Jacksonville hitting 11. Who was No. 1? Little Sierra Vista, Ariz., home to Army base Ft. Huachuca, near the Mexico border. It jumped from No. 8 in 2013, and the number of complaints per 100,000 nearly doubled from last year.

Mayor Rick Mueller of Sierra Vista replied “no comment” when asked about the city’s fraud complaint rate.

The “other fraud” top 10 list is much more diverse, hitting all regions of the country.

Largest Metropolitan Areas for Fraud and Other-Related Consumer Complaints

  1. Sierra Vista-Douglas, Ariz.
  2. Homosassa Springs, Fla.
  3. Colorado Springs, Colo.
  4. Weirton-Steubenville, W.Va.-Ohio
  5. Bellingham, Wash.
  6. Santa Fe, N.M.
  7. Dover, Del.
  8. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va
  9. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev.
  10. Prescott, Ariz.

This notorious top 10 list is remarkably consistent — nine out of the top 10 cities were in the list last year. The only new entrant was Steubenville, near the West Virginia border, which was ranked 11 in 2013.

While you can’t entirely prevent identity theft from happening to you, you can take measures to reduce your risk. That means it’s all the more important to stay on top of your financial data to look for signs of fraud. Check your financial statements regularly (every day, even) for unauthorized charges or activities, and check your credit reports for fraudulent accounts or other inaccuracies. There are also services that allow you to monitor your credit — doing so can alert you to changes — good and bad. You can get your free credit report summary, updated every month on Credit.com, to watch for problems so you can address them as soon as possible.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

TIME LGBT

TV Chef Guy Fieri Officiates at 101 Gay Weddings in Florida

Fellow chef Art Smith began planning the mass wedding after Florida lifted its ban on same-sex marriage

The host of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Guy Fieri officiated at a mass wedding ceremony in Miami, Florida on Saturday for 101 same-sex couples.

Celebrity chef and Florida native Art Smith, who has cooked for Oprah Winfrey and former governor Bob Graham, organized the giant wedding on Miami Beach, writes the Associated Press. He summoned some of the country’s top chefs, who were in town for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, to help out.

Smith started planning the event in January, when he heard Florida had lifted a ban on same-sex marriage. He went to Twitter using the hashtag #101gayweddings and invited the first 101 couples to take part in the free wedding.

Smith explains the ‘101 Gay Weddings’ event was inspired by the movie 101 Dalmatians and is a dig at Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has fought against lifting the ban on same-sex marriage.

“We have our own Cruella De Vil, Pam Bondi. She was determined that she was going to prevent equality from coming to Florida,” he said.

After the couples walked down the aisle they were treated to a delectable wedding feast and a seven-tier cake made by Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman.

[AP]

TIME Lottery

The Powerball Jackpot Is Set to Reach $450 Million

A store clerk hands a customer his Powerball ticket at a local grocery store in Hialeah, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015
Alan Diaz—AP A store clerk hands a customer his Powerball ticket at a local grocery store in Hialeah, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015

But you're far more likely to play in the NBA than win this haul

The odds of winning the Powerball Grand Prize are 1 in 175,223,510. For this week, however, you can keep believing.

No one claimed Powerball’s estimated $394 million jackpot over the weekend, meaning the prize for the next draw will be around $450 million (or $304.1 million for a cash payout) according to the Powerball website.

That’s $140 million short of the record $590.5 million — won on May 18, 2013 by 84-year-old Gloria Mackenzie of Zephyrhills, Fla. — but who’s complaining?

The next draw will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 11.

TIME Bizarre

Florida Man Arrested for Killing 5 Alligators for Super Bowl Meal

Volusia County Sheriff's Office Richard Nixie

The gators were each about five-feet long

The Florida Gators didn’t make the Super Bowl, but that didn’t stop one man from trying pay homage to the team with his game day dinner.

Richard Nixie of DeBary, Florida, skipped buffalo wings and nacho dip in favor of gator, illegally killing five small alligators and cutting off their tails to cook, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The gators were each about five-feet long, according to the Associated Press, and Nixie admitted to trapping them.

Police arrested Nixie, 30, on Sunday for possession and taking alligators without a proper tag, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal. He was released from county jail on a $500 bond and is due back in court March 3.

“No one should have possession of a Florida alligator unless they are a state nuisance alligator trapper,” Greg Workman, a spokesman for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, told the Sentinel. “It’s not just a free-for-all.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME animals

Millions of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Could Be Released in Florida

Jason Garcia
Wilfredo Lee—AP Jason Garcia, a field inspector with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, tests a sprayer that could be used in the future to spray pesticides to control mosquitos in Key West, Fla., on Oct. 4, 2012

"This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease"

Scientists could release millions of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys in an attempt to kill off insects that spread the diseases dengue and chikungunya — if their proposal wins regulatory approval.

The male mosquitoes, created by British biotech firm Oxitec, are engineered to keep their partners from producing offspring when they mate in the wild, the Sun Sentinel reports. The number of mosquitoes capable of spreading the diseases would be reduced if enough wild mosquitoes mate with the genetically modified population.

“This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease,” Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, told the Sun Sentinel.

Despite the benefits of reducing incidences of dengue and chikungunya, two viral diseases that cause a number of uncomfortable conditions, many are wary about releasing genetically modified organisms into the wild. More than 130,000 people have signed a Change.org petition opposing the release of the mosquitoes in the Florida Keys.

[Sun Sentinel]

TIME Crime

Kentucky’s ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ Teens Will Face Charges in Their Home State

Missing Teens Crime Spree
Tammy Martin—AP In this December 2014 file photo provided by Tammy Martin, her son Dalton Hayes poses with his girlfriend Cheyenne Phillips at his family's home in Leitchfield, Ky. Kentucky authorities say two teenage sweethearts suspected in a crime spree of stolen vehicles and pilfered checks across the South have been apprehended in in Panama City Beach, Fla., on Jan. 18, 2015

They're being booked for burglary and trespassing related offenses

After a two-week-long crime spree, Dalton Hayes, 18, and his 13-year-old girlfriend, Cheyenne Phillips, will be returning home to Kentucky to face multiple charges.

Hayes, who was captured in Florida, relinquished his right to an extradition hearing and will be charged with burglary, criminal trespassing and custodial interference, according to NBC News.

Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins said Phillips will be charged with similar crimes “but she’ll be treated differently than Dalton because he’s an adult.”

The couple is suspected of stealing three cars during a two-week crime spree that covered multiple states and drew media comparisons to the infamous 1930s criminal couple Bonnie and Clyde. On Facebook, the Grayson County Sheriff’s office distanced themselves from the comparison, however.

Hayes’ mother, Tammy Martin, said she doesn’t know what went through her son’s mind but was happy he was found.

“The first thing I’m going to do when I see him is hug him and tell him I love him, and then I might smack him,” she said.

[NBC News]

TIME Crime

Florida Cops Used Mugshots of Black Men for Target Practice

Someone recognized her brother among the bullet-riddled mugshots

A Florida woman discovered North Miami Beach Police had been using images of black men for target practice after recognizing her brother’s mug shot at a shooting range.

Sgt. Valerie Deant, a musician with the Florida Army National Guard’s 13th Army Band, arrived at a shooting range with her fellow soldiers just after police snipers had been practicing on the same range last month. Deant was shocked to see her brother’s photograph among the mug shots of black men apparently used as target practice by the police. Woody Deant was arrested in 2000 in connection with a deadly drag race when he was just 18 years old.

“I was like why is my brother being used for target practice?” Deant told NBC Miami on Friday. “There were like gunshots there.”

“Nobody expects to come across their family member as a target at a shooting range,” Andell Brown, an attorney for the Deant family, told TIME. “She was concerned about why he was there, and what that meant for his safety.”

Captain Jack Young, who oversees the shooting range, confirmed that the targets are selected by whoever is renting the range. Police chief J. Scott Dennis told NBC that the decision to use mugshots of black men was ill-considered, but that no rules had been broken. He said his department includes minority police officers, and said the use of actual photographs for target practice is very common. Requests for further comment from Dennis were not immediately returned.

“These young men are literally being used for target practice,” Brown said. “And if those in the leadership don’t see anything wrong with that practice, then we have a very serious issue.” Brown said that the family is weighing their legal options.

Woody Deant, who spent four years in prison after his arrest, told NBC he was disturbed at his sister’s discovery. “Now I’m being used as a target?” he said. “I’m not even living that life according to how they portrayed me as. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m a career man. I work 9-to-5.”

“The picture actually has like bullet holes,” he said.

TIME Crime

Father Throws His 5-Year-Old Daughter Off a Bridge

This image provided by the Pinellas County Jail shows a booking photo of John Nicholas Jonchuck Jr.
AP—AP This image provided by the Pinellas County Jail shows a booking photo of John Nicholas Jonchuck Jr.

The 25 year-old faces a first-degree murder charge for killing his daughter

A Florida father charged with hurling his 5-year-old daughter from a Tampa Bay bridge just after midnight Thursday had filed a domestic violence injunction against the girl’s mother last month, police revealed. That request was declined.

A motive for the heinous act, however, wasn’t immediately clear after the suspect — 25-year-old John Jonchuck Jr. — refused to talk after his arrest, St. Petersburg Police Chief Tony Holloway said at a news conference Thursday morning.

Jonchuck, who had custody of his daughter, had been sitting in his Chrysler PT Cruiser at the top of the Dick Misener Bridge moments after speeding…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

Read next: Search For Charlie Hebdo Suspects Narrows to Rural Area

TIME Bizarre

Couple Spent 2 Days Trapped in a Closet That Wasn’t Actually Locked

They called 911 saying they were trapped

We all struggle with locks sometimes, but usually the struggle ends before 48 hours have passed. A Florida couple called 911 on Tuesday saying they’d been chased into a closet on the campus of Daytona State College and had been locked in for two days. But when the police arrived on the scene, the door was not locked.

Police discovered human feces in the closet, as well as copper scouring pads that the Orlando Sentinel reports are sometimes used as crack-smoking paraphernalia. No drugs were found.

John Arwood, 31, and Amber Campbell, 25, were charged with trespassing. It is not the first brush with law enforcement for either person.

A police officer tested the door by entering the closet and closing it behind him. It did not lock.

[Orlando Sentinel]

Read next: Florida Woman Slaps 72-Year-Old Who Denied Her Facebook Request

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME States

Florida Surpasses New York to Become 3rd Most Populous State

USA Florida Miami South Beach Spring Break Crowded Beach
Robert Clare—Getty Images

And North Dakota is the fastest-growing one

Florida has overtaken New York as the third most populous state in the country.

The Sunshine State added 293,000 new residents between July 1, 2013 and July 1 of this year, according to the U.S. Census bureau, reaching a total population of 19.9 million. New York added only 51,000 people during the same period, amounting to a total of 19.7 million.

North Dakota saw the fastest growth at an increase of 2.16%, while the overall U.S. population increased 0.75% to 318.9 million. California and Texas remain the first and second most populous states, with 38.8 million and 26.95 million, respectively.

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