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Gilford Police warn of scam artists posing as IRS

GILFORD — The Gilford Police Department received four similar complaints from residents recently advising they had been contacted by individuals alleging to be Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees who were looking to collect money.

The IRS has been warning consumers to not fall prey to this type of sophisticated phone scam or other types of e-mail phishing scams that have been targeting taxpayers throughout the country.

In phone scams, victims are told they owe money to the IRS and that it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. In e-mail phishing scams, victims receive correspondence from what appears to be the IRS directing them to update their e-file information immediately by following a link to a bogus website intended to mirror the actual IRS website.

Victims refusing to cooperate are typically threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver's license. In many cases, alleged IRS callers become hostile and insulting.

As a reminder, the Gilford Police Department advises taxpayers that the IRS will not ask for credit card information over the phone, nor will they request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. Individuals receiving e-mails should not respond to phishing emails or click on any provided links.

A few other characteristics of scammers are they will use fake names and IRS badge numbers, they may be able to recite the last four digits of Social Security Numbers, they may spoof the IRS toll-free number to make it appear as if the IRS is calling, they will often have "background noise" mimicking call site locations and they may immediately call back after making threats purporting to be police.

Taxpayers are urged to access the actual IRS website at www.irs.gov and to educate themselves under the Tax Scam heading located in the middle of the page.

Last Updated on Friday, 10 October 2014 01:58

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Correction: On Halloween, Gilford traffic will be allowed to Potter Hill Road

CORRECTION: Gilford Police will be blocking Belknap Mountain Road for trick-or-treating from Potter Hill Road to the driveway leading to the Elementary School parking lot. The areas that were to be blocked off were incorrectly reported in an article that was published on Thursday on Page 9.

Last Updated on Friday, 10 October 2014 01:55

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Sealed police affidavit at issue at court appearance for couple charged with conspiracy to sell crack

CIRCUIT COURT — The scheduled probable cause hearings for two people arrested last week on Grove Street and charged with distributing and conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine was postponed yesterday, until Tuesday morning.

Bountham Sonthikoummane, 52, and Onella Nguan, 37, were arrested last week by city police and are accused of operating a "big drug enterprise", said Laconia Prosecutor Jim Sawyer at their arraignment in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division last week.

Both are being held on high cash bail and both were transported to the court for their hearings, however Nguan's translator was only able to stay until noon and the proceedings didn't begin until 11:40 a.m.

Additionally, Nguan's attorney, Public Defender Allison Schwartz, said she hadn't been given copies of the search warrant affidavits which she said she would need for the probable cause hearing.

Sonthikoummane's attorney Matt Lahey echoed Schwartz's opinion.

Sawyer, who successful got the affidavits sealed last week, argued the seal should continue because it is an ongoing investigation and he feared that if some of the information in the search warrants was made available to either Nguan, Sonthikoummane or the general public, the investigation could be compromised and the confidential informant's life or well-being could be imperiled.

"We need that (affidavit) to go forward with our hearing," Schwartz argued, telling the judge the information in the affidavit wasn't going anywhere. "We're entitled to that."

Sawyer said the information in the warrant is still "very new" meaning that the search warrant was just issued on October 1 and the rest of the investigation is still in its early stages.

Judge Jim Carroll unsealed the search warrant applications and read them himself.

He suggested a redacted copy that will protect the state's ongoing investigation but gives the defense attorneys enough information for a probable cause hearing.

Schwartz argued that the state's concern for the confidential informant is "misplaced" and it's not "appropriate for the state to decide what we hear."

Carroll said the sequence of events may put the safety of the confidential informant at risk but said the rest of the information in the warrant presents minimal problems.

"It's not how (police) got there but what they saw when they got there," Carroll said, meaning for the limited purposes of a probable cause and bail hearing the "how" is not relevant.

He said the rest is a matter for another legal forum like a trial.

Carroll told Sawyer to prepare a redacted version of the warrant by the close of business today so he can review it and decide if he'll release it to the defense attorneys.

According to testimony offered by Sawyer during the October 3 arraignment, police found significant quantities of drugs and of cash but said there was no evidence of drug use within the home.

Sawyer said the drugs were found in a laundry basket and mingled within easy reach of two young children in the home, showing disregard for the welfare of his step children.

Sawyer also said police found receipts for purchases of jewelry made between May 27 and August 16 totaling $32,000. He said Sonthikoummane was wearing a necklace valued at $7,000 but that neither he nor Nguan showed any evidence of being employed.

Last Updated on Friday, 10 October 2014 01:39

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Shea-Porter tells Laconia Rotarians of dysfunctional Congress

LACONIA — Speaking to the Laconia Rotary Club yesterday, 1st District Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat from Rochester, remarked that the stalemate in Congress reminded her of a sign her grandfather kept on his wall that read "Let's Compromise and Do It My Way."

Shea Porter, the first woman from New Hampshire elected to national office, won the 1st District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006 and held it in 2008 before losing it to Republican Frank Guinta, the former mayor of Manchester, in 2010. In 2012, she ousted Guinta and this year the two are vying for the seat for the third time.

"Congress can't get its act together," Shea-Porter told the Rotarians. A member of the Armed Services and Natural Resources committees, she said that while the first has worked effectively in a bipartisan manner the second is split along party lines by the issue of climate change.

Meanwhile, Shea-Porter said that although the House passed a budget, a farm bill and violence against women legislation, it has failed to tackle major issues. "We should have had a debate and a vote on the situation in the Middle East," she said, "and Congress has not addressed the economy. The economy is getting better, but, unemployment is still high and wages are flat," she continued, calling for initiatives to generate employment and improve infrastructure. Despite repeated warnings about the effects of climate, including concerns expressed and preparations begun by the military leadership, she said "there has been no environmental legislation for several years." Shea-Porter noted that Congress has also declined to ease the burden of student loan debt or reform the corporate and individual tax codes.

"There is work to be done," Shea-Porter said. "But, it's not the most attractive landscape." Noting that Congress has been working only two days a week, she said that "one of our biggest problems is that we're not there that often." At the same time, she claimed that the Republican majority passed what she called "take-it-or-leave-it" bills, or legislation with no chance of either winning a majority or opening a dialogue in the Senate.

Campaign finance reform, Shea-Porter emphasized, is required to overcome the dysfunctionality of Congress. She rejected term limits, saying "we have term limits — elections. There's a lot to learn," she added "we need experienced people in both parties." The power of money, wielded by special interests and advocacy groups, she claimed, has hamstrung Congress. "Take the money out and you'll start seeing policies that benefit all the people," she said.

In Cloising Shea-Porter urged her listeners to vote on November 4. "If you vote for me or against me, please vote," she said.

Last Updated on Friday, 10 October 2014 01:30

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