Archive for April, 2012

NO man arrested on identify theft, fraud charges

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Posted: Saturday, 28 April 2012 5:50AM

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Warrant: Stolen tax files led to ID theft case

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Federal authorities have charged a New Bern man with stealing the identities of dozens of people and filing fraudulent tax returns in their names to obtain refunds, according to a search warrant recently unsealed.

Jeffrey Glenn Toohey, 42, is charged with two counts of aggravated identity theft and one count each of aiding and abetting identity theft, aiding and abetting access device fraud and bank fraud.

Toohey stole more than 400 tax files from a Jackson Hewitt office in New Bern in late 2010 and used the names and Social Security numbers of those people to set up merchant credit accounts to buy goods for himself and a coffee shop he ran in town, the search warrant states.

He and a friend also filed tax returns under numerous names and had refunds wired into bank accounts that Toohey had set up, according to the search warrant. They used public Wi-Fi spots to file the returns to avoid detection.

Searches conducted by federal authorities last July linked Toohey to 35 fake Marine Corps identification badges, 19 counterfeit North Carolina driver’s licenses and 15 fake driver’s licenses from Florida and Texas, the search warrant states.

The latest search warrant, which was issued March 21, is to access a BBT account set up in Lumberton under another man’s name, where one of the tax refunds was sent.

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Identity theft: What everyone should know

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

 Identity theft: What everyone should know

Posted 4/27/2012   Updated 4/27/2012
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Commentary by Tech. Sgt. Vann Miller
Air Force Academy Public Affairs

4/27/2012 – U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Looking at my account balance made me sick to my stomach. The numbers in red print on my bank account ledger indicated I was more than $3,000 in the red. I let out a growl and sank in my chair, not knowing how much more of this nightmare I had to endure.

My identity had been stolen, and no matter how rigorously I attacked this problem, it was not going away soon enough.

I had spent the past week retracing my steps. I tried to put myself into the mindset of this criminal, hoping to glean some idea how I could have contributed to my own misfortune. I was at a loss.

I use strong passwords. I closed all open ports on my wireless home network. I even had notifications sent directly to my email account and phone whenever changes to my account were made. But none of these precautions spared me from this virtual theft. I was confused and stressed.

There was no way for me to discover exactly how I became a victim of this fast growing crime, but if you think you are immune, I will tell you that up until a week ago, I felt the same way.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, millions of identities were compromised due to the corporate mishandling of personal information. Identity theft can happen to nearly anyone.

In my case, during the span of one week, my insurance account with USAA was hacked, a credit card and two other accounts were opened in my name, and an attempt to open a third account was made at another bank.

The entire ordeal shook my confidence in online banking and made me feel extremely vulnerable. I was even surprised at how my bank authorized an expense transaction worth totally more money than I had on hand. With no questions asked, they were willing to authorize a payment to a third party even though I didn’t have funds in my account to cover it.

The unfortunate reality is that anyone can become the victim of this crime. Even in the safe confines of your home, a determined criminal can bate you and steal your identity.

And if you think digging through your trash is beneath a thief, think again. In an apartment complex like the one I live in, community trash bins are common depositories of personal information. Dumpster diving is a very easy way for criminals to gather everything from unwanted magazines to preapproved credit offers. You may be surprised just how much information about ourselves we put into the trash.

According to the Department of Justice website, information such as copies of your checks, credit card or bank statements often make its way into the trash. This kind of information often bears your name, address and even your telephone number.

Though I make no claim to be an expert on identity theft or fraud, I can point out some steps I took to protect myself from being further victimized. The first thing I did was notify my bank. After speaking to them and explaining the situation, they gave me a list of helping agencies. I then contacted one of the credit agencies and filed a claim for identity theft — this informed creditors that I was the victim of identity theft so they could better detect suspicious activities done in my name.

Then I contacted law enforcement. After all, identity theft is a crime. The more it gets reported, then the more evidence police and investigators have toward solving these crimes.

I’ve learned that it is important to shred everything. Until now, I thought it was good enough to tear up my junk mail. But after this event, I can see that when it comes to protecting your identity, you should take nothing for granted.

If you feel as though you are the victim of fraud or identity theft, contact local law enforcement to report the incident. If you have questions or require further information regarding criminal issues, visit the FTC’s identity theft website at

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City offers ID theft prevention education, document shredding

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Posted: Friday, April 27, 2012 1:30 pm

City offers ID theft prevention education, document shredding

From Community Reports

Houston Community Newspapers

Houston Mayor Annise Parker announces the launch of the City of Houston’s Identity Theft Prevention Initiative, sponsored by the Mayor’s Citizens’ Assistance Office, a division of the Department of Neighborhoods, in collaboration with the Houston Police Department and corporate partner Data Shredding Services of Texas, Inc. (DSS). The new initiative calls for a series of monthly events at HPD stations around the city that will offer identity theft prevention education and document shredding services to individual Houston residents. The shredding service will be provided free of charge by DSS.

“We want to help educate residents about basic measures they can take against becoming the subject of identity theft,” said Parker. “One way is by safeguarding personal information. The City is greatly appreciative of Data Shredding Services’ generosity and commitment to provide secure shredding services for individual residents.”

The Kingwood event will take place Saturday, June 23, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Kingwood Metro Park and Ride at 3210 W. Lake Houston Pkwy.

“We know that many residents do not have access to personal shredding equipment or are perhaps not aware of how to properly dispose of their confidential documents,” said Data Shredding Services CEO Shafer Gabrel. “DSS is pleased to help by providing our state of the art shredding equipment and offering this service to residents free of charge.”

For more information about the City’s Identity Theft Prevention Initiative, visit


Friday, April 27, 2012 1:30 pm.

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Lamorinda police reports for April 27, 2012

Friday, April 27th, 2012


The following excerpts were taken from the Lafayette police log:

Sunday, April 15

  • Battery: Battery was reported at 12:15 a.m. in the 100 block of Roxanne Lane.

  • DUI: Driving under the influence was reported at 9:22 a.m. at Burton Drive and Glenside Drive.

  • Accident: At 12:45 p.m. a vehicle accident was reported in the 100 block of Olde Creek Place.

    Monday, April 16

  • Hit and Run: A hit and run was reported at 8:26 a.m. at Second Street and Mt. Diablo Boulevard.

  • DUI: Driving under the influence was reported at 8:39 a.m. at Pleasant Hill Road and Taylor Boulevard.

  • Identity Theft: At 8:48 a.m., identity theft was reported in the 3200 block of Judy Lane.

  • Accident: At 9:34 a.m., a vehicle accident was reported at Mt. Diablo Boulevard and Risa Road.

  • Accident: A vehicle accident was reported at 11:02 a.m. in the 3600 block of Mt. Diablo Boulevard.

  • Identity theft: Identity theft was reported at 12:17 p.m. in the 3200 block of Judy Lane.

    Tuesday, April 17

  • Petty theft: At 8:12 a.m., petty theft was reported in the 3600 block of Mosswood Drive.

  • Identity theft: At 11:41 a.m., identity theft was reported in the 3500 block of Springhill Road.

  • Burglary: A burglary was reported at 12:33 p.m. in a house in the 3200 block of Sweet Drive.

  • Accident: A vehicle accident was reported at 1:32 p.m. in the 3500 block of Mt. Diablo Boulevard.

  • Hit and Run: A hit and run was reported at 3:29 p.m. in the 3400 block of Mt. Diablo Boulevard.

  • Petty Theft: At 4:48 p.m., shoplifting was reported in the 3600 block of Mt. Diablo Boulevard.

  • Accident: A vehicle accident was reported at 5:17 p.m. at Moraga Road and Tofflemire Drive.

  • Petty theft: At 6:37 p.m., petty theft was reported in the 1300 block of Mt. Diablo Boulevard.

  • Reckless Driving: Reckless driving was reported at 9:45 p.m. in the 1200 block of Pleasant Hill Road.

    Wednesday, April 18

  • Burglary: An auto burglary was reported at 5:56 p.m. in the 3500 block of Mt. Diablo Boulevard.

  • Vandalism: Vandalism was reported at 8:30 a.m. in the 1400 block of Sunset Loop.

    Thursday, April 19

  • DUI: Driving under the influence was reported at 7:28 p.m. at Glenside Drive and St. Marys Road.

    Friday, April 20

  • Petty theft: At 8:03 a.m., petty theft was reported from a vehicle in the 3300 block of Springhill Road.

  • Grand Theft: At 3:42 p.m., grand theft was reported in the 1000 block of Via Roble.

  • Hit and Run: A hit and run was reported at 4:17 p.m. at Mt. Diablo Boulevard and Oak Hill Road.

    Saturday, April 21

  • Petty theft: At 5:02 a.m., petty theft was reported in the 3200 block of Mt. Diablo Boulevard.

  • Forgery: Forgery was reported at 6:39 a.m. in the 1000 block of Via Roble.

  • Petty theft: At 8:03 a.m., petty theft was reported from a vehicle in the 3300 block of Springhill Road.

  • Burglary: An auto burglary was reported at 9:21 a.m. in the 1000 block of Upper Happy Valley Road.

  • Burglary: At 1:07 p.m., an auto burglary was reported in the 3500 block of Mt. Diablo Boulevard.

  • Petty theft: Petty theft was reported at 2:56 p.m. in the 3500 block of Mt. Diablo Boulevard.

  • Accident: A vehicle accident was reported at 7 p.m. at Moraga Road and Silver Springs Road.

    Moraga Police

    The following excerpts were taken from the Moraga police log:

    Wednesday, April 18

  • MAIL THEFT: Mail was stolen between 2 and 4 p.m. from the porch of a residence on Ascot Drive. The package containing model car parts was valued at $100.

    Thursday, April 19

  • VANDALISM: At 4:30 p.m. it was reported someone damaged a wire fence in front of a residence in the 500 block of Rheem Boulevard.

  • PETTY THEFT: A male in the 600 block of Rheem Boulevard reported survey equipment valued at $500 was stolen from his property between 2:30 and 5 p.m.

  • SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES: At 5:45 p.m. a 12-year-old female on a trail behind Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School reported a male attempted to coax her into his vehicle while she was waiting for her parents to arrive

  • ACCIDENT: Officers responded to a misdemeanor hit-and-run accident at 5:45 p.m. in the parking lot of Safeway on Moraga Way. An elderly male hit another vehicle and left the scene without providing contact information.

    Friday, April 20

  • WELFARE CHECK: Officers were asked at 8 a.m. to conduct a welfare check on residents in the 130 block of Warfield Drive. Upon arrival it was determined all parties appeared healthy and well cared for.

  • PETTY THEFT: At 5:05 p.m. a Campolindo High School student reported he left a phone in the bathroom facilities at the Soda Center, on the Saint Mary’s College campus. When he returned to the area to retrieve the phone, it was missing.

  • DUI: During a traffic stop at 9:15 p.m. on Camino Ricardo and Moraga Way, officers arrested a male in a Honda Accord for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

    Saturday, April 21

  • TRAFFIC INCIDENT: A homeowner in the 3800 block of Campolindo Drive reported during the night that a vehicle drove through a portion of his yard, damaging shrubbery. The responsible party was located and provided and apology and insurance information.

  • HARASSMENT: At 3:33 p.m. a father on Freitas Drive reported a daughter was receiving anonymous harassing voice-mail messages. The victim requested documentation as her school district is investigating the calls as bullying.

    Sunday, April 22

  • NOISE DISTURBANCE: Officers responded to the complaint of a loud party at 11:40 p.m. in on Miramonte Drive. A group of approximately 76 people were dispersed and residents were given a warning.
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    Guilty plea entered to fraud, identity theft

    Friday, April 27th, 2012

    A Florida woman arrested last year at the Peace Bridge with hundreds of stolen health care records pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Buffalo to access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.

    Investigators later discovered that some of the records J’Melle Hooks, 26, of Cocoa, Fla., was carrying last September were used to file fraudulent income tax returns and that refunds issued by the Internal Revenue Service that were sent to debit cards also were established fraudulently, Assistant U.S. Attorney Maura K. O’Donnell said.

    Hooks used the credit cards in multiple locations in the U.S. and Canada to make purchases and obtain cash, O’Donnell said.

    Hooks faces up to 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both when she is sentenced Aug. 2 by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.

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    6 identity theft ring suspects sentenced

    Friday, April 27th, 2012

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    Six suspects implicated in an identity theft ring that allegedly operated in the Hattiesburg and Laurel areas were sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court.

    Another three are scheduled for sentencing in May and June.

    The suspects were arrested in a Laurel trailer park in August following a federal probe into what investigators said was a scheme running alongside sister operations in other states.

    Benlly Araffar Hernandez Cordova, 33, pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to produce false identification documents, commit wire fraud and buy or sell counterfeit Social Security cards. He also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm as an illegal alien.

    District Judge Keith Starrett sentenced Cordova to a 27-month sentence for each charge, with both sentences to run concurrently. Cordova also must pay $5,000 in fines and $100 special assessment for each charge and complete two years of probation upon release.

    Ricardo Obispo Martinez, 21, pleaded guilty to using the name, Social Security number and birth date of another in relation to shielding an alien from detection, also pleading in February.

    Starrett sentenced Martinez to two years of prison time, one year of probation, $6,000 in fines and a $100 special assessment.

    Julieta Rivera Lopez, 37, Pastor Quihua Gonzalez, 25, Leticia Rodriguez, 40, and Noe Ortega Bravo, 26, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce false identification documents, commit wire fraud and buy or sell counterfeit Social Security cards.

    Starrett sentenced Bravo and Lopez to 18 months in prison and two years probation in addition to a $5,000 fine and $100 special assessment apiece.

    Quihua-Gonzalez must serve 27 months in prison with two years probation and the same fines and assessments.

    Rodriguez was ordered to serve 41 months in prison and two years probation as well as a $5,000 fine and a $100 special assessment.

    Arturo Apocada Tejeda, 40, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm as an illegal alien. He also pleaded to conspiracy to produce false identification documents, commit wire fraud and buy or sell counterfeit Social Security cards.

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    Identity theft turns online shopping sour

    Friday, April 27th, 2012






    Be cautious before making that online purchase, confirm the website address. There are criminals on the prawl waiting to get your details.  

    In Summary

    Seen a nice shoe or watch you want to buy online? With a couple of clicks and filling the necessary information it could be yours.

    Such transactions have only been made possible by the enhanced broadband internet speeds that are quickly helping build a huge internet consumer community in Kenya.

    Never forget, however, that the internet is packed with criminals who are always on the prawl waiting to pounce your personal identity and details.

    These online gangs have made e-markets extremely dangerous-especially where shoppers are required to use their credit cards.

    A global headache, companies transacting in e-commerce have invested heavily in securing their payment sites but most have left it to the shoppers to secure their own bank accounts from the criminals.

    Malicious criminals use fake or modified websites to get their victims information.

    Criminals can attack many computers at a go with malware, when it happens the network of the infected computers is technically referred to as botnets. This means a bot connected to the internet, thus the name.

    When a computer is compromised by an attacker, there is often code within the malware that commands it to become part of a botnet.

    Unless a user is keen it is difficult to detect when a botnet is running in the background of a computer and the risk posed when putting in bank details on the fake site when purchasing goods online are quite high.

    Botnets mainly store the keystrokes of the victims’ identity information, which is used by cyber fraudsters to steal from the accounts.

    Since this family of malware runs in the background of an infected computer, argues experts, criminals can transfer money out of bank accounts, make purchases with other people’s money, and engage in identity theft without the knowledge of the owner.

    Danson Muchemi, CEO of Webtribe Limited, a software development company, says protecting your computer from viruses is the sure way of keeping criminals at bay. Adding users must be vigilant when browsing and take caution not to click on suspicious links.

    “You should never click on a link from someone you do not know. Even if it’s from a known sender be careful since it may be spam,” says Mr Muchemi.

    “Never enter your credit card information on a site that begins with only ‘http://’. If a website ever asks you to enter your credit card information, you should automatically look to see if the web address begins with ‘https’.

    The additional letter, ‘s’, shows the web page is secured and is most likely from a trusted vendor.

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      Data theft hurts more than a case of mistaken identity

      Friday, April 27th, 2012

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      Taxpayer Advocates Cope with IRS Tax Refund Delays and Identity Theft

      Friday, April 27th, 2012

      Taxpayers who have been victimized by identity thieves who stole their tax refunds have become a major concern for local taxpayer advocates.

      During a Senate Finance Committee hearing Thursday on improving the taxpayer experience during tax filing season, one of the witnesses, Teresa Thompson, the Local Taxpayer Advocate for the state of Montana, was asked about her main priorities. One of the top priorities she cited in her testimony was taxpayer identity theft and the tax refund delays produced by it.

      Identity theft ranked as the top issue, both in Montana and nationally, based on the percentage of new case receipts from Oct. 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012 for the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Thompson is one of 70 taxpayer advocates around the country who are part of the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the IRS. On a nationwide basis, refund hold wage verification ranked second beyond taxpayer identity theft among the top five issues faced by taxpayers who brought their cases to the TAS.


      “The dramatic increase in tax-related identity theft cases in the last few years is harming Montana taxpayers, whether or not they are victims of tax-related identity theft themselves,” said Thompson.

      She noted that during the 2012 filing season, Montana TAS cases have reflected trends that exist in TAS nationwide, as well as in the IRS as a whole. Montana saw the number of cases brought to the TAS’s attention grow from four in the first six months of fiscal year 2011 to 27 in the first six months of fiscal 2012. Nationwide, the increase was even more dramatic, escalating from 6,427 in the first six months of fiscal 2010, to 10,272 in the first six months of fiscal 2011, to 15,921 in the first six months of fiscal 2012.

      “In my office alone, we have six Montana taxpayers whose identities we believe were involved in a single scheme that resulted in returns being filed in the eastern part of the country under their stolen Social Security numbers,” she said. “These taxpayers experienced financial hardships as a result. We have been working with the IRS to issue their legitimate refunds to them and correct the damage from the scheme.”

      Thompson noted that some taxpayers filing legitimate returns are also caught up in the IRS’s system of detecting identity theft, leading to tax refund delays (see 7.8 Million Tax Refunds Delayed This Season at IRS). “The IRS uses electronic filters that are intended to screen out fraudulent refund returns, but also sometimes stop legitimate refunds from being issued,” she said. ”When that happens, these taxpayers often come to my office with financial emergencies because they were depending on the refund to make ends meet. We act immediately in such cases to help them prove their returns are legitimate, so the IRS can issue their refund.”

      Thompson suggested that the IRS needs to put more resources into assisting taxpayers experiencing significant tax problems caused by identity theft; and at the same time, the IRS needs to continue improving its fraud detection filters for identity theft, to avoid harming innocent taxpayers.”This is a tall order for an agency experiencing staffing cutbacks,” she added.

      Many people seeking her office’s help have been frustrated by the difficulty in reaching someone at the IRS through its toll-free phone lines. She believes that budget and staff cutbacks at the IRS’s toll-free sites and walk-in Taxpayer Assistance Centers are making voluntary compliance more difficult.

      IRS Response
      Beth Tucker, deputy commissioner of operations support at the IRS, contended that the overall average refund timeline remained steady in FY 2012 when compared to FY 2011. “In other words, the delays were isolated to early issues in the filing season, and after that IRS was processing tax returns according to normal refund timelines,” she said.

      “At the same time, combating refund fraud, including identity theft, can also affect the time frame of delivering a refund,” Tucker acknowledged. “As previously noted, we are continually improving our screens and filters to help us identify and block fraudulent returns. For most taxpayers, these measures do not impact refund timelines. However, it can add time to processing for some. There is clearly a delicate balance here. We cannot manually inspect 100 million refunds to ensure all are correct—nor is there any justification for doing so. The IRS has a dual mission when it comes to refunds, particularly when they are generated in whole or in part by tax credits. Refundable and other tax credits are provided to achieve important policy goals, such as relieving poverty or boosting the economy.”

      GAO Recommends Improvements
      A report by the Government Accountability Office on opportunities to improve the taxpayer experience and voluntary compliance was presented at the hearing by GAO director of strategic issues James White. The report recommended implementing modernized systems to provide faster refunds and account updates. Modernized systems would allow the IRS to conduct more accurate and faster compliance checks, which benefits taxpayers by detecting errors before interest and penalties accrue. In addition, expanding pre-refund compliance checks could result in more efficient error correction and reduce the burden of audits on taxpayers and their costs to IRS. The report also called for more self-service tools to give taxpayers better access to information.

      Taxpayers who were trying to cope with the tax refund delays this tax season often received conflicting information from the IRS’s online “Where’s My Refund” tool this tax season (see IRS Warns of Tax Refund Delays).

      The report noted that taxpayer service has declined this tax season. “Providing good taxpayer service is important because, without it, taxpayers may not be able to obtain necessary and accurate information they need to comply with tax laws,” said the report. “In addition, more and more, taxpayers are relying on IRS’s website to obtain information and execute transactions, making it important that IRS have a modern website. However, as we have reported, IRS has experienced declines in performance in selected taxpayer service areas, most notably with respect to providing live telephone assistance and timely responses to taxpayers’ correspondence.”

      ‘Taxmageddon’ Approching
      Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., acknowledged the need for tax reform and simpilfication to help with taxpayer compliance. “We know that the great majority of taxpayers follow the law,” he said in his opening statement. “More than 80 percent of taxes are paid on time. This voluntary compliance rate shows that most folks are doing their part every April, but improving the taxpayer experience and creating certainty can push that rate even higher.”

      Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee, warned about the expiration of all the tax cuts at the end of the year, which has taken on the label “taxmageddon.”  

      “This nation faces a real crisis in just a few months,” he said in his opening statement. “What some have called taxmaggedon is rapidly approaching. Unless Congress acts, come Jan. 1, 2013 Americans will be hit with the largest tax increase in history. This record-breaking tax increase will hit every American that pays income taxes. Small business owners will face a top marginal tax rate hike of 17 percent. The number of farmers and small businesses that will face the death tax will grow exponentially.”

      Hatch also pointed to the expiration of the alternative minimum tax, which has already occurred, and how the rate of tax on dividends will nearly triple, from 15 percent to 43.4 percent, and the tax rate on capital gains will increase by 59 percent, from 15 percent to 23.8 percent.

      “These tax increases are ones for the record book, and Congress should have already prevented them from occurring,” said Hatch. “They are a ticking time bomb for families, individuals, and the American economy.”

      Simultaneously with the Senate Finance Committee hearing on Thursday morning, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures heard testimony from fellow lawmakers about the need to extend several expiring and already expired tax credits, including tax breaks for research and development and for mass transit.

      CPA Testimony on Tax Reform
      Troy Lewis, a CPA who works as vice president at Heritage Bank, a small community bank in St. George, Utah, was also on the panel. He is the sole proprietor of a small CPA firm, Lewis Associates, CPAs, in Draper, Utah, and a professor of accounting and taxation at Brigham Young University. Lewis advocated a number of improvements in tax reform and simplification in his prepared testimony, including depreciation, the alternative minimum tax and certain partnership tax provisions. He also sees a need for improvement in correspondence examinations, due dates and basis reporting.

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