Two New York men have been accused of stealing the identities of minority-owned businesses to obtain construction contracts. According to CBS Albany, the NY Attorney General’s Office has charged Michael Martin, 47, and D. Scott Henzel, 52, with identity theft after allegedly stealing two businesses out from under their owners using illegal means.
The indictment reports that Martin and Henzel allegedly offered Lorice Enterprises, Inc. and Precision Environmental Solutions, Inc. a chance to work with Martin’s roofing company, Eastern and Moisture Barriers, to learn about bidding on construction projects.
Prosecutors claim Martin and Henzel then stole the businesses out from under the owners. Both men came to operate all financial and staffing decisions until the businesses were only minority-owned on paper, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Martin has been accused of failing to pay into the employee pension system for more than 50 employees and underpaying $400,000.
Both Martin and Henzel have been accused of failing to pay wages. They were both charged with three counts of filing a false instrument, three counts of identity theft, and one count of scheme to defraud.
Additionally, Martin has been charged with two counts of grand larceny and one count of insurance fraud in Schenectady County.
“As we allege, the defendants crafted a shameful and elaborate scheme to line their pockets at the expense of minority-owned businesses, New York taxpayers, and their own employees,” said NY Attorney General Barbara Underwood.
Identity theft in the U.S. is a growing problem.
Cybercriminals have, in recent years, taken to stealing the social security numbers of babies and selling them on the Dark Web. And it’s not an uncommon issue. Studies show that up to 10.2% of American children under the age of 18 have had their Social Security numbers stolen.
What’s more, 2016 saw claims of identity theft at an all-time high. In 2015, approximately 13.1 million consumers were hit by some form of identity theft and that number increased to 15.4 million in 2016.
That’s one out of every 16 people. Last year, that number was still significantly high at 15 million Americans.
Cybercriminals and identity thieves are capable of accessing your information in many ways if your information isn’t secure.
According to the IDC, the digital universe is expected to reach over 40 ZB of data by 2020. That data includes social media information, phone numbers, addresses, credit card information, Social Security numbers, IP addresses, and medical information.
Up to 1 million people suffered from work-related musculoskeletal disorders in the U.S. in 2001. Think of the information you include on a medical form and imagine what could happen if it fell into the wrong hands.
Even if the information you have online is secure, your personal documents need to be kept just as safe. Up to 90% of burglaries are never solved and the majority of identity theft cases involve print documents. If possible, keep your personal documents locked in a safe and destroy any paperwork that contains your information before throwing it away.
In addition to the previously mentioned charges, Martin has been accused of using a fake rental scam to steal more than $150,000 from Precision. Martin allegedly also stole $200,000 from Allegheny Casualty by claiming Precision hadn’t been paid for work.
The Attorney General’s Office claims more than $1 million of the potentially stolen money was used to fund trips out of the country and to pay for a vehicle.
“We will continue to aggressively root out fraud,” said Underwood,” and protect New Yorkers from those who seek to game the system.”
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Despite the fear of automation that’s been voiced in the media lately, a new report from HPE and Aruba shows that American employees are largely in favor of a fully-automated workplace.
Up to 71% of surveyed employees said they would welcome a fully-automated workplace because it would allow for smarter and more effective work environments.
“While automation is often discussed in terms of what it might do in the medium to long-term future, our research is a reminder that there are tangible benefits to be unlocked through the automation of equipment and the office environment today,” researchers said.
Employees also said they were excited about greater digital workplace technologies. Up to 93% said an increased use of digital technology would help lead to greater improvements such as improved efficiency (56%) and collaboration (52%).
Advanced software such as managed print services has already helped many American businesses cut back on printing costs and paper waste. This alone has been a major boost for eco-friendly business practices considering 17% of everything printed is considered waste.
The enthusiasm employees exhibit for automation may not be surprising considering millennials’ willingness to leave a job if the workplace’s technology isn’t up to speed. If the technology in a workplace isn’t up to date, it can make it difficult for workers to do their jobs effectively.
Poor technology can also deliver poor customer experiences, which can be problematic when strangers decide on your trustworthiness in one-tenth of a second.
It’s for this reason that up to 57% of surveyed employees said they would be happy to share more personalized data if it meant they’d be given more personalized tools and experiences in the workplace.
Researchers separated the surveyed employees into two categories. These categories were dubbed digital revolutionaries (those who work where digital technology is widely used) and digital laggards (those who work where digital technology isn’t widely used).
Approximately 51% of digital revolutionaries reported strong job satisfaction and 60% said they were motivated on the job. What’s more, up to 65% of revolutionaries said they had seen professional growth compared to only 31% of laggards.
That said, businesses need to get on the ball about digital innovation. According to the latest research by IT Portal, more than a third of businesses cited artificial intelligence as the most beneficial tool for customer service.
AI, virtual reality, and augmented reality would not only improve customer service experiences but also training experiences. Up to 63% of manufacturing companies say they don’t conduct staff training on lubricants as regularly as they should. AI would be able to help give staff the information they need at a quicker rate without reducing productivity elsewhere.
Still, businesses would need to be careful when it comes to cybersecurity once they choose to automate. Although digital revolutionaries report having greater satisfaction with their jobs, up to 70% of workers said they performed some kind of risky online behavior in 2017 including sharing or duplicating their password.
Fortunately, business owners are able to catch these cybersecurity threats ahead of time. By establishing a cybersecurity procedure and making it a part of employees’ initial training, businesses can experience the benefits of automation without having to worry about security risks.
First New York City, now Dover: the trend of using dry ice to solve the cities’ rat infestations might be the next big wave in pest control this summer, at least in urban areas.
In mid-June, New York City and Dover, NH sanitation services began implementing a form of dry ice to combat the cities’ rat problems. After the teams finish seeking out the pesky burrows built by brown rats and Norway rats, they drop a few pellets of dry ice into the burrows in order to suffocate the inhabitants.
In 2016, this technique was used by New York City, Chicago, and Boston to aid in the fight against rat infestations. However, this came to a grinding halt when the Environmental Protection Agency claimed the technique was unusable; since dry ice wasn’t registered as an insecticide, fungicide, or rodenticide, the practice was stopped.
That all changed in 2017 once Bell Laboratory released its “Rat Ice,” a dry ice rodenticide registered by the EPA as a form of pest control. Now, the “Rat Ice” is registered in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. However, New York, Washington, and Illinois have also officially adopted dry ice methods for pest control.
Dry ice is a 100% ecologically safe option for cleaning, storage, and now pest control. Made from condensed, solid carbon dioxide, dry ice is used to displace the oxygen in the rats’ burrows as a new form of pest control application. When the hole is covered, the rats cannot escape, thus causing suffocation.
Although this might seem harsh for the rats, the rates of infestation in urban areas poses a risk to public health. Not only are they a toxic problem for cats, dogs, and birds that might interact with infected rats, they pose a risk to personal health and safety if unwitting children interact with the infected animals.
Dry ice cleaning has been used for years as an ecologically sound alternative to chemical washing. This practice has also been performed on all types of machines; some shop presses are even strong enough to deliver 30 tons of pressure. When this idea is applied to rodenticides, this makes for a much safer alternative to traditional poisons and often dangerous traps.
Rodenticides are a type of oral pesticide that is meant to kill rodents including rats, mice, squirrels, and any other pesky rodent creature. They’re known to contain chemicals that can damage wildlife, contaminate crops, and cause ecological harm.
Dry ice, however, only displaces the oxygen in the rats’ burrows, alleviating the need for poisons that could harm food and children. Though the dry ice application takes a little more time than traditional pesticide methods and its application is limited to green spaces — not residential use — making it a safer measure by comparison.
New York City and Dover are just two cities that recommend dry ice use as long as it’s performed by a trained professional. Handling dry ice can be tricky, as the extremely cold temperatures can cause burn-like injuries on untrained individuals.
New York City recognizes that dry ice, however, is not a cure-all. The city has recently launched a $32 million plan that targets rats in the most infected areas throughout New York City.
While dry ice might not be a one-stop-shop for curing the plague of rodenticides, this new method is a great way to safely eliminate infestations in public, green spaces.