Following an uptick in reports of telephone scammers, the Attorney General released tips to defend against these fraudsters. New Yorkers have recently reported scammers posing as officials from the Internal Revenue Service and the Attorney General’s Office. The scammers typically target seniors, students and first generation Americans, and are often looking to uncover personal information. New Yorkers should remember to never give out personal information when receiving an unsolicited call, and to always be suspicious of those who ask to keep the conversation private. And remember, the safest thing to do is always to say “no” and hang up. Those who believe they have been the victim of fraud should contact the office immediately.
The Attorney General sent a letter to leading civil rights and Muslim advocacy groups reiterating his commitment to enforce all laws protecting religious liberty and equality. While some have chosen to exploit fear and anger by targeting certain religious minorities, the Attorney General emphasized that his office stands ready to enforce all state and federal civil rights laws protecting the liberty and equality of people of all religions. Anyone who is aware of potential violations should contact the office’s Civil Rights bureau at (212) 416-8250 or Civil.Rights@ag.ny.gov. This is just the latest step the Attorney General has taken to protect religious liberty. In 2011, his office launched the Religious Rights Initiative, which is dedicated to addressing religious discrimination claims and ensuring that anti-discrimination laws are aggressively enforced. The Attorney General has also reached an agreement with a municipal healthcare organization to safeguard all employees' rights to religious accommodations in 2012. And this past February, the Attorney General’s office joined a coalition of states in filing a friend-of-the-court brief with the US Supreme Court in support of a Muslim woman who had been denied employment at an Abercrombie & Fitch store because she wore a hijab.
This week the Attorney General announced an innovative partnership with state media associations to stop rampant and unlawful advertising of foreclosure rescue scams. Scammed homeowners have frequently reported that they were lured by ads the scammers placed in local media outlets, as these trusted outlets are often used as vehicles to target vulnerable New Yorkers. To combat this, the Attorney General’s is partnering with the New York News Publishers Association, New York Press Association and the New York State Broadcasters Association to help local outlets scrutinize advertisements to identify possible scammers. These scams are particularly repugnant because they take victims of the housing crash and make them victims again, and the Attorney General thanks the media associations for working to ensure that scammers cannot exploit New Yorkers.
The owner of a restaurant in Westchester has pleaded guilty for failing to pay minimum wage and overtime to workers. Elisa Parto hired cooks, cleaners and cashiers who were all owed the minimum wage for hours worked, as well as overtime at one and one half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. As part of the plea, Parto will be required to pay $47,000 in unpaid wages, which will be distributed to six former employees. The Attorney General has consistently taken a firm stance on the minimum wage and overtime violations, and protecting the livelihoods of hardworking New Yorkers will continue to be a priority for his office.
The Attorney General announced the arrest of a Schenectady nurse for allegedly obtaining narcotics by presenting prescriptions with the forged signature of a physician assistant at the hospital. It is alleged that Kristie Clemovich presented seven prescriptions to Rite Aid and Walmart pharmacies that were issued in the names of relatives of Clemovich and which bear the forged signature of a physician assistant. The alleged forged alleged prescriptions were discovered as a result of New York’s I-STOP Prescription Monitoring Program, an online database that enables doctors and pharmacists to report and track controlled narcotics in real time. This case shows that I-STOP is working as envisioned, and the Attorney General will continue to root out prescription drug abuse epidemic that has ruined lives and ripped families apart across our state.
The Attorney General announced the guilty pleas of two Schenectady personal care aides for submitting false time sheets to an area Physicians Health Plan. The false submission caused more than $1,000 each in theft of Medicaid funds, as the duo failed to provide in-home personal care that they claimed to perform.
In a separate instance, a Rochester nurse has been arrested for allegedly stealing nearly $5,000 from the Medicaid program. Erica Viverette allegedly repeatedly billed Medicaid for the care of four medically fragile individuals, which she never performed. When individuals exploit the Medicaid program’s flexibility and a patient’s vulnerability, it takes away from those who are in need of basic health care services.