Florida Supreme Court warns of phone, email scam asking victims to appear in court

The Florida Supreme Court has a warning to anyone who might be contacted by phone or email scammers.

Court officials said that the scammers are targeting the elderly, healthcare workers and relatives who recently died, saying that they need to appear before a judge or pay money.

The scam includes emails to healthcare workers telling them that they have a healthcare service violation, and a phone scheme targeting Spanish speakers, telling them they must pay money or wire transfers to avoid being charged with kidnapping, child pornography or human trafficking.

The third scam targets those who have lost loved ones, claiming they owe money to the loved one’s estate.

Finally, a nationwide scam falsely claims a person must pay a fine for missing jury duty.

Officials said you will be informed in person or by regular-delivery mail of anything related to jury duty.

Additionally, officials said that you should not give out any sensitive personal information and instead report the incident to the Florida Attorney General’s Office.

Also, do not open any links or attachments in the emails, as they may contain computer viruses or programs that can pose the possibility for identity theft.

Officials said that you can forward any emails to the Florida Supreme Court at [email protected]

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Video shows man shooting shark hooked to fishing rod

Florida wildlife authorities are investigating a video being widely shared on social media of a man shooting a shark several times.

The viral video is the latest to show a shark being abused in the water off the coast of Florida.

A man can be seen in the video firing several shots into the gills of a hammerhead shark hooked to a fishing rod. The others on the boat can be heard laughing as the shark bleeds out into the water.

Russ Rector, an animal activist who said he was given the video by the person who recorded it, was told that it happened in the waters off Siesta Key near Sarasota.

“He was enjoying it,” Rector said of the shooter.

Rector said he believes the same crew was responsible for dragging a shark behind a speeding boat.

Both videos are being investigated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“The use of powerheads, explosives, chemicals or the discharge of firearms to kill or harvest marine life is prohibited in state waters,” FWC spokesman Rob Klepper said.

Although investigators have identified the people in the video, they are not releasing their names while the investigation is ongoing, as is protocol, Klepper said.

“It’s not dangerous,” Rector said of the shark. “They could have let it go.”

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3-day, back-to-school sales tax holiday kicks off Friday

The three-day, back-to-school sales tax holiday kicks off on Friday and lasts until Sunday.

This year’s sales tax holiday was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in this year’s $180 million tax cut package and is estimated to save Florida families more than $33 million in taxes.

“Since 2011, we have relentlessly worked to cut taxes and put more money back in families’ pockets,” Scott said in a statement. “I’m proud that we have cut more than $7 billion in taxes, including more than $33 million in savings for Florida families from this important Back-to School Sales Tax Holiday starting tomorrow. I encourage all students, families and educators to take advantage of this great opportunity to purchase tax-free school supplies and other items to prepare for another successful school year.”

Items that qualify to be exempt from tax include certain school supplies that are selling for $15 or less per item, clothing, shoes and certain accessories selling for $60 or less per item and computers and certain computer-related accessories that are selling for $750 or less per item.

Retailers, like Staples, say it is one of their busiest weekends of the year. 

“A lot of our customers know, and are really ready to come this weekend and do a lot of shopping with us,” Stales sales manager Paul Penna said. “If they buy a computer that is $750, they can save $58 in tax just alone on that, so that is a pretty big savings to a customer.”

The sales tax holiday is exempt for any items sold in theme parks, entertainment complexes, public lodging establishment or airport.

“Whatever can save people money, it is helpful,” one shopper, Yelelly Loor said. “There are a lot of supplies for kids these days. The lists are super long, so whatever parents can save on — it gets costly. It adds up.”

The sales tax holiday is also exempt for repairs or alterations of any eligible items.

Click here for more information about the back-to-school sales tax holiday. 

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Last of escaped Alabama jail inmates caught in Florida

Authorities in Florida have captured the last of 12 inmates who fled an Alabama county jail in a scheme involving peanut butter.

The Martin County Sheriff’s Office announced on social media Tuesday night that deputies and the FBI captured Brady Kilpatrick, 24, at a home in the south end of the county.

Kilpatrick was being held in the Walker County jail on marijuana and drug paraphernalia charges when he and 11 other inmates escaped Sunday night.

Walker County Sheriff James Underwood said the inmates used peanut butter to change the numbers above a door and trick a new employee into opening another door that led outside. They then used their jail uniforms and blankets to climb over a razor wire-topped fence.

 

Kilpatrick was the only one to make it out of Alabama. The other inmates were captured within 12 hours of the escape.

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said his department received a tip from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office that Kilpatrick could be hiding out in a home on Southeast Hobart Street.

Snyder said deputies and federal agents surrounded the home and took him into custody without incident.

The sheriff said two people who knew Kilpatrick drove to Alabama to pick him up. He said three others in the house were also arrested.

 

“He just picked the wrong county to come and hide out in,” Snyder said.

The sheriff said Kilpatrick was cooperating with authorities. He was booked into the county jail.

“We’ve never had an escape from the Martin County jail and, I can tell you this, he’s not getting peanut butter,” Snyder said.

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Tropical Storm Emily weakens to tropical depression

Tropical Storm Emily formed early Monday in the Gulf of Mexico, about 45 miles west-southwest of Tampa, and made landfall hours later in southwest Florida.

It weakened to a tropical depression shortly before 5 p.m. 

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Emily developed into a tropical storm at 8 a.m., just hours after forming as a tropical depression.

As of the 11 p.m. advisory, Emily was moving east toward Florida at 9 mph with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph. 

Local 10 News chief certified meteorologist Betty Davis said the storm is forecast to weaken slightly as it cuts across the state before turning toward the northeast and strengthening as it crosses into the Atlantic Ocean.

“It will be moving toward the northeast, getting farther away from Florida so it becomes less of a concern out there for us,” Davis said. 

As much as 8 inches of rain were expected to drench Okeechobee between noon Monday and 8 a.m. Wednesday. A little more than 2 inches was estimated for Miami.

Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 31 Florida counties earlier in the day, including Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade.

“I have declared a state of emergency across 31 counties to ensure that every community has the resources they need, and that state, regional and local agencies can easily work together to keep people prepared during Tropical Storm Emily,” Scott said in a news release.

Max Mayfield, Local 10 News hurricane specialist and former director of the National Hurricane Center said the storm formed very quickly and now it’s a standard depression. 

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the west coast of Florida from Englewood to Bonita Beach.

Emily made landfall about 10:45 a.m. at Anna Maria Island near Sarasota.

Be sure to download the Local 10 Hurricane Survival Guide to keep you safe before, during and after a storm. 

Remember to stay up to date on the all the latest storm news by downloading the Max Tracker app for iOS and ANDROID.

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