LITTLE ROCK - The school year is winding down, and many Arkansans are making summer vacation plans. Whether it is a trip to the beach, somewhere abroad, or one of Arkansas's many lakes or state parks, Arkansans should keep a watchful eye to avoid falling victim to a vacation scam. Scam artists are using the internet, including online advertising and social media, to pitch free or deeply discounted travel deals.
Many scammers will attempt to convince you that your friends and family members are taking advantage of this offer and you should too. Meanwhile, other scammers include being offered vacation rentals that look too good to be true. Travelers make the reservation and show up at the home or condo, only to find it was never up for rent and a scam artist stole photos and listing information to trick you out of hard earned cash. While it is possible to find a good travel deal or even win a vacation, you must stay mindful of the fact that there are bad actors seeking to ruin your fun by taking your money.
"Scam artists will stop at nothing to take advantage of hard working Arkansans," said Attorney General Rutledge. "Fraudsters are constantly coming up with new ways to steal your money, but one thing never changes; if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is."
Attorney General Rutledge released the following list of common scams vacationers could encounter:Third-party Booking Scam: If you book your airfare, hotel, rental car, or other travel through a third party website, use caution. After booking, scammers call consumers directly to verify personal financial information-something a legitimate company would never do. Ticket Sale Scam: Summertime is full of festivals and concerts that often sell out. Scammers take advantage of this and list tickets for sale at a discounted price. Consumers don't find out until trying to attend the event that the tickets are fake. Gasoline Scam: Scammers approach with a convincing story that they ran out of gas and money. They claim to only need $40 to fill up the tank and may even offer to mail a check to repay you. The likelihood that the repayment will be received is slim. Either refuse to give the scammers money or pay for their fuel at the nearest service station to ensure the money is spent as intended. Rideshare Service Scam: Uber or Lyft drivers approach, and mention that a passenger just canceled a trip, leaving them available for a trip, but they must be paid in cash. Often, these drivers do not even work for a legitimate rideshare company. Similarly, any drivers who claim an "outage" is preventing them from accepting payment via the Uber or Lyft system is a red flag. Cashless travel is one of the main perks of using a rideshare company. Fake Front Desk Phone Call Scam: Scam artists call hotel rooms directly, often in the middle of the night.. They say there has been a computer glitch and they need to verify your credit card information. Hang up immediately and contact the front desk to verify the call.
Some helpful travel tips include:Put a travel alert on your debit or credit card to prevent issues or scams while out of town. Use a credit card instead of a debit card because there are more protections available and it may be easier to dispute versus losing access to the cash in your bank account. Use social media with care-don't post while you're out of town. You might be inviting a criminal into your empty house. Withdraw cash from an ATM at a financial institution versus a standalone ATM to prevent your card information from being stolen.
For more information on safe summer travel and other consumer-related issues or to file a consumer complaint, visit ArkansasAG.gov or contact the Attorney General's office at (800) 482-8982 or email@example.com.
About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. Elected on November 4, 2014, and sworn in on January 13, 2015, she is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected as Attorney General. She was resoundingly re-elected on November 6, 2018. Since taking office, she has significantly increased the number of arrests and convictions against online predators who exploit children and con artists who steal taxpayer money through Social Security Disability and Medicaid fraud. Further, she has held Rutledge Roundtable meetings and Mobile Office hours in every county of the State each year, and launched a Military and Veterans Initiative. She has led efforts to roll back government regulations that hurt job creators, fight the opioid epidemic, teach internet safety, combat domestic violence and make the office the top law firm for Arkansans. Rutledge serves on committees for Consumer Protection, Criminal Law and Veterans Affairs for the National Association of Attorneys General. She also served as the former Chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association.
A native of Batesville, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Rutledge clerked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, was Deputy Counsel for former Governor Mike Huckabee, served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and was an Attorney at the Department of Human Services before serving as Counsel at the Republican National Committee. Rutledge and her husband, Boyce, have one daughter. The family has a home in Pulaski County and a farm in Crittenden County.
2022 Click It or Ticket
Step Up and Remind People to Buckle UpFrom May 23-June 5, 2022, state and local law enforcement agencies across the nation are conducting enforcement efforts for motorists who aren't wearing their seat belts. Once again, for this year's Click It or Ticket seat belt mobilization effort, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is asking all states to participate in the Border to Border (B2B) initiative, a one-day national seat-belt awareness kickoff event coordinated by participating state highway safety offices and their respective law enforcement liaisons. B2B aims to increase law enforcement participation by coordinating highly visible seat belt enforcement and providing seat belt fact sheets for drivers at heavily traveled, highly visible state border checkpoints.
Face the FactsThe national seat belt use rate in 2020 was 90.3%, which is good - but we can do better. The other 9.7% still need to be reminded that seat belts save lives. Among young adults 18 to 34 killed while riding in passenger vehicles in 2020, more than half (60%) were completely unrestrained - one of the highest percentages for all age groups. Men make up the majority of those killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes. In 2020, 67% of the 23,824 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed were men. Men also wear their seat belts at a lower rate than women do - 55% of men killed in crashes were unrestrained, compared to 43% of women killed in crashes.
Bust the MythsVehicle type: There seems to be a misconception among those who drive and ride in pickup trucks that their large vehicles will protect them better than other vehicles would in a crash. The numbers say otherwise: 62% of pickup truck occupants who were killed in 2020 were not buckled. That's compared to 47% of passenger car occupants who were not wearing seat belts when they were killed. Regardless of vehicle type, seat belt use is the single most effective way to stay alive in a crash. Seating position: Too many people wrongly believe they are safe in the back seat unrestrained. Fifty percent of all front-seat passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in 2020 were unrestrained, but 59% of those killed in back seats were unrestrained. Rural versus urban locations: People who live in rural areas might believe that their crash exposure is lower, but in 2020, there were 11,922 passenger vehicle fatalities in rural locations, compared to 11,683 fatalities in urban locations. Out of those fatalities, 52% of those killed in the rural locations were not wearing their seat belts, compared to 49% in urban locations.
Click It or Ticket - Day and NightHigh-visibility seat belt enforcement is important 24 hours a day, but nighttime is especially deadly for unbuckled occupants. In 2020, 58% of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (6 p.m.-5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts. Click It or Ticket isn't about citations; it's about saving lives. In 2020, there were 10,893 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the United States. To help prevent crash fatalities, we need to step up seat belt enforcement, day and night.
Learn more about the Click It or Ticket mobilization at www.nhtsa.gov/ciot.
Arkansas Attorney General sent this bulletin at 05/12/2022 12:20 PM CDT
Arkansas Attorney General sent this bulletin at 04/28/2022 07:23 AM CDT
The Stone County Sheriff's Department and Arkansas State Police are working on two separate death investigations in the Ben area of Stone County. Sheriff Lance Bonds is urging people to stay inside their homes and lock their doors. Deputies are patrolling the area. There is not an active shooter at this time. No other details are available at this time.
Arkansas Attorney General sent this bulletin at 04/07/2022 09:35 AM CDT
Stone County Sheriff's Department
Sheriff Lance Bonds
Breaking or Entering and Aggravated Assault:
On March 25, 2022, Chief Deputy Dammon McGilton arrested Keisha N. SULLIVAN, age 31, of Big Flat for Breaking or Entering at a location in Onia. While attempting to make an arrest, SULLIVAN began fighting the deputy and swung a small child into Deputy McGilton in an attempt to get away. SULLIVAN is charged with Breaking or Entering, Aggravated Assault involving the child, Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in the first degree, and resisting arrest. She is charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor. She is also being held in the Stone County Jail on a parole violation.
On March 26, 2022, at approximately 12:11 a.m., Deputies Bryan Rose and Justin Balentine was working patrol on Highway 14 east near Saint James when they observed a Blue Honda Car traveling west bound with a busted tail light and crossing the center line on multiple occasions. Deputy Rose and Balentine stopped the vehicle. Deputy Trevor Leonard and Deputy Nathan Masterson arrived to assist on the stop. Deputies identified the driver as Heath GRIFFIN, age 40, of Oxley. Deputies learned that the GRIFFIN had a warrant out of Conway and a suspended driver's license. Deputies also smelled marijuana and Deputy Leonard observed brown powder scattered throughout the front seat and from his training and experience knows that to be KRATOM, a schedule I narcotic. The vehicle was searched and deputies located marijuana dabs and other marijuana paraphernalia. Deputy Balentine located a box in the rear of the vehicle containing approximately 4, 056 grams of KRATOM which is approximately 8.9 pounds.
GRIFFIN was arrested for Trafficking a Schedule I Narcotic over 200 grams. The charge is a Class Y Felony. His bond was set at $25,000.00. KRATOM has been banned in Arkansas since 2016. It contains Opioid products and is highly addictive with no medical use. It is banned in several States and other States are attempting to ban the illicit drug. The street value of the drug is approximately $5,000.00. GRIFFIN is set to appear in Stone County Circuit Court in April.
On March 28, 2022, Sergeant Joe Beaudin responded to a residence on Highway 5 south in reference to a truck theft. A 2005 Ford F-150 was stolen from the residence. After further investigation, Sgt. Beaudin was able to track down the suspect and vehicle in Mississippi. The vehicle was located and recovered by authorities in Mississippi and the suspect was named. The suspect is Casey PATTERSON, W/F, age 25, of Mississippi. Investigator Justin Meeks obtained a felony arrest warrant for theft of a motor vehicle over $5,000.00. The warrant will be entered into the system and PATTERSON will be picked up at a later date.
Stone County Sheriff's Department
According to Chief Deputy Dammon McGilton on Friday 03/25/2022, charges have been filed on Phillip "Travis" BAUGH, age 42, of Mountain View on four counts of Delivery of Crystal Meth. These charges stem from a long-term investigation by Chief Deputy Dammon McGilton and Special Agent Geoffrey Watts of the 16th District Drug Task Force, where they utilized a cooperating source to purchase amounts of Crystal Meth in an undercover capacity. BAUGH sold Crystal Meth on four separate occasions. The four charges are Class "C" Felonies and if convicted carries a sentence of 3 to 10 years each in the Arkansas Department of Corrections. The bond was set by a judge for $50,000.00. BAUGH is being held in the Stone County Jail for the deliveries as well as a failure to appear in circuit court on other drug-related charges and a bond revocation. The Sheriff's Department and Drug Task Force will continue the fight on the drug issue in Stone County.
Stone County Press Release
March 24, 2022
According to Chief Deputy Dammon McGilton, on March 22, 2022, multiple members of the Stone County Sheriff's Department and 16th Judicial District Drug Task Force was out working Drug Interdiction throughout Stone County. On March 23, at approximately 1:50a.m., Chief Deputy McGilton and Special Agent Blake Cruz, with the Drug Task Force, stopped a 2002 Grey Chevrolet pickup on Highway 5 South near Bob Davis Mountain Road for careless driving. Upon making contact with the vehicle, officers smelled the odor of burned marijuana. Officers identified the driver as Tiffany JONES, age 36, of Redfield, Arkansas and passenger as Anthony BERENDS, age 31, of Redfield, AR. Chief Deputy McGilton and Agent Cruz recognized indicators that were consistent in drug trafficking. Probable cause to search arose and other officers arrived on the scene to assist. After further investigation, Chief Deputy McGilton located approximately 28 grams of Methamphetamine and a loaded 9mm handgun in the vehicle. Agents located a meth pipe and approximately 3 grams of meth on BERENDS. Officers learned that Anthony BERENDS was a documented gang member, "Gangster Disciple" out of Pine Bluff, who is also on Parole with an extensive firearm and drug history. Throughout the investigation, officers learned from interviews that BERENDS and JONES had been transporting and supplying Crystal Methamphetamine to others in Stone County. Crystal Meth has a street value of approximately $3,000.00.
Anthony BERENDS is charged with Possession of Crystal Meth 10 to 200 grams with the purpose to deliver, simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms, possession of firearms by a certain person, possession of drug paraphernalia, and being a habitual offender. His bond was set at $50,000.00 and he has a parole hold out of the State of Arkansas.
Tiffany Jones is charged with possession of crystal meth 10 to 200 grams with the purpose to deliver and simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms. Her bond was set at $30,000.00.
Chief Deputy McGilton stated that it is a great deal when members of the Sheriff's Department and other agencies come together to combat the illicit drug problem in Stone County. A special thanks to the 16th Judicial District Drug Task Force and Mountain View Police Department for all their hard work and assistance throughout many of the investigations within Stone County. "We need to stay aggressive with these Narcotic Distributors, not only in our County but other cities and counties throughout Arkansas that supply our County".