Category Archives: crime news

9 ways thieves steal your identity – and how you can stop them

Dale Yeager Profiler Blog

Identity theft isn’t just someone stealing your credit card. Criminals are coming up with plenty of innovative ways to rip us off. New account fraud, a tactic in which someone opens an account in your name, is on the rise. So are cases of hackers using clever social engineering tactics to fool victims into giving up sensitive information.

Think it can’t happen to you? 

One recent example is a new type of identity fraud that tricks victims into thinking they’ve received a two-factor authentication text from their bank. This is especially shocking as it looks so real. 

More than 14 million Americans fell victim to identity theft in 2018, according to a 2019 study by Javelin Strategy & Research. Fraud is still rampant and can cause serious financial damage — not to mention all the time and effort it can take to undo it.

That’s why knowing the tactics thieves to steal your identity is essential. Avoid these pitfalls and stay protected.

1. Think before you share

We live in a generation of oversharing. People have been oversharing the details of their personal lives on reality TV shows for years.

These days, it seems everyone shares everything on social media platforms like Facebook. It’s often innocent oversharing, like your friend who “checks in” to every restaurant so you always know where she is and what she’s eating. Tap or click to secure your Facebook account once and for all.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to overshare with hackers, too. How often do you mindlessly click through buttons that say “Allow Access?” If you’re playing an online game or entering a contest, it’s understandable because you want a chance to win.

RELATED: Not sure who to turn to for tech help? I’ve got your back. 12 questions about social media you’re too embarrassed to ask.

But stop and think about what you’re doing before you give away your information. Take a second to read terms and conditions before you agree online, and be smart about what you post on the web.

You should never post your address, phone number or other personal information on social media sites. Platforms like Facebook are too careless with our privacy as it is, and you don’t want your sensitive information in the wrong hands.

2. Blast from the past

Remember MySpace accounts? From about 2005 to 2008 it was the most popular social media site in the world. Not so much anymore. Most MySpace users have moved on. Unfortunately, many forgot to delete their accounts.

Leaving old accounts active can be a security nightmare. Think about all the personal information you have just sitting there, waiting to be scavenged by cybercriminals. Let’s face it, Tom from MySpace probably isn’t keeping up with security protocols.

It’s critical to be proactive and delete all of your old accounts you no longer use.

Go through your browser, your email and wrack your brain for all the accounts and services you’ve signed up for. If you find some you’re not using, don’t just let them linger. Take the time to shut down your old accounts the right way.

This can be a lot of work, but there’s a site that can help make the process easy. It’s called AccountKiller and will help you wipe the slate clean. Tap or click here to learn more about AccountKiller and easily get rid of those old accounts.

3. Some things are supposed to stay between you and your doctor

According to a survey by security company Carbon Black, a frightening 84% of health care organizations say they have seen an increase in cyberattacks over the past year. Cybercriminals have been targeting hospitals and clinics due to the sheer amount of data these places store.

It’s not all just patient information, either. There’s also data on doctors and insurance companies. Stolen information is sold on the Dark Web and ranges mostly from forgeries to health insurance credentials.

If someone steals your identity, you could be subject to medical identity theft. This act means you might be denied coverage because someone has already used your medical insurance benefits.

How can you protect yourself? Only share your insurance card when it’s absolutely necessary, and report a missing card to your insurance company right away. Avoid posting about health issues online; the less info potential scammers know about you, the better. Check any statements or bills you receive thoroughly, and contact your insurance company or doctor if you see a charge or service you don’t recognize.

PRIVACY PRO TIP: Creepy data broker sites collect a shocking amount of information — but you can remove your data and opt out. Tap or click here to take this important privacy step.

4. Don’t be fooled

When criminals first started sending phishing emails, they were pretty easy to spot. Tons of grammatical and spelling errors tipped us off to the fact that no, our banks couldn’t possibly have sent that message.

However, today’s crooks have learned that lesson and are now sending professional looking messages. They spoof logos that look so real they can be difficult for even experts to spot. The most important rule to outsmarting phishing scams is to avoid clicking malicious links. That means you shouldn’t click on web links or open PDF attachments found in unsolicited email messages — ever.

If you need to conduct business with a company, it’s always best to type its web address directly into your browser. Never trust a link inside a message, and be wary of downloading anything you didn’t specifically ask for.

5. Before you hit ‘buy’

Shopping online is convenient and takes out all the hassles associated with heading to the mall. But have you ever heard of e-skimming? It’s when your credit card information is skimmed by a criminal while you’re buying stuff online. You don’t even know it’s happening until it’s too late.

This epidemic is getting worse as hackers have figured out how to skim credit cards from ordinary online retailers without being detected. They do this by using tricky bits of code while they lie in wait and capture your data as you’re typing it in.

Does that mean you need to stop shopping online all together? No, but you should take steps to shop smarter. For starters, check the connection to the site you’re on. Look for a lock or a URL that begins with HTTPS instead of just HTTP. If it’s not secure, find what you’re shopping for elsewhere.

Be wary of any deals that seem too good to be true. Coupons for crazy discounts or free products could be a trap to get your payment info.

You should also consider ditching your credit card all together when you buy online. Tap or click for 3 safer ways to pay online.

6. Not worth the risk

One of the biggest mistakes people make is connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Sure, everyone wants to save on data, but joining a public Wi-Fi network at the coffee shop or airport is a terrible idea.

Crooks are always trolling these public networks, watching and waiting for new victims to rip off. If you must use a public network, always use a VPN when you connect. The free ones are slow. You’re better off paying a small monthly fee for a robust VPN.

7. Stay up to date

Shelling out over a grand for the latest and greatest smartphone isn’t very economical. But if you are using a super old device that can’t support updates, you could be putting your personal data at risk.

That’s because many operating system updates come with critical security patches that keep crooks from stealing your information. Without these patches, you’re a serious contender for identity theft, which could wind up costing you more than what you’d pay for a new phone.

Keep all your devices updated to the latest software you can, and seriously consider a new smartphone if yours is several versions behind.

Not updating your OS is just one silly thing you may be doing that puts you at risk online. Tap or click for 7 security basics you really need to stop ignoring.

8. Low-tech tricks

Though criminals have sophisticated hacking tools at their disposal, there are old-fashioned spying tricks that still work to this day.

We’re talking about the common thief rummaging through your trash, hoping to find personal information you may have written down and thrown away. Take the time to shred any sensitive documents before carelessly throwing them in the trash. This includes bank statements, financial documents, medical bills and anything else with identifying information.

Also, be careful of what you say out loud. Eavesdroppers might be listening in if you’re in public making a payment over the phone and reading your credit card information out loud.

When in doubt, assume someone is watching or listening and guard your info accordingly.

9. Threats at home, too

It’s sad I have to mention this, but it’s not just hackers who can steal your identity. It could be a family member or friend.

That’s why it’s essential to keep passwords and important documents in a safe place. Don’t just leave things with information like Social Security numbers and banking information sitting around the house.

Keep sensitive documents locked in a drawer, cabinet or safe deposit box. Stop writing down passwords and login info, and store or shred financial statements as soon they arrive in the mail.

There was a time when our house phones would ring off the hook with annoying, unknown and unwanted calls. The immediate reaction would be to use *69 to trace where the call originated from.

Today, these annoying messages are coming in the form of emails. Each of these messages leads down the same road, which ends with a phishing scam or some sketchy request to reveal your personal data.

If you really want to check the credibility or authenticity of an email, you’ll need to dig deeper and establish where the email originated from — a virtual *69 if you will.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

“Abolish the police.” City Council of Seattle and Chicago

“Abolish the police.” City Council of Seattle and Chicago

The latest call to action from some criminal-justice activists: “Abolish the police.”

From the streets of Chicago to the city council of Seattle, and in the pages of academic journals ranging from the Cardozo Law Review to the Harvard Law Review and of mainstream publications from the Boston Review to Rolling Stone, advocates and activists are building a case not just to reform policing — viewed as an oppressive, violent and racist institution — but to do away with it altogether. When I first heard this slogan, I assumed that it was a figure of speech, used to legitimize more expansive criminal-justice reform. But after reading the academic and activist literature, I realized that “abolish the police” is a concrete policy goal. The abolitionists want to dismantle municipal police departments and see “police officers disappearing from the streets.”

One might dismiss such proclamations as part of a fringe movement, but advocates of these radical views are gaining political momentum in numerous cities. In Seattle, socialist city council candidate Shaun Scott, who ran on a “police abolition” platform, came within 1,386 votes of winning elected office. During his campaign, he argued that the city must “[disinvest] from the police state” and “build towards a world where nobody is criminalized for being poor.” At a debate hosted by the Seattle Police Officers Guild, Scott blasted “so-called officers” for their “deep and entrenched institutional ties to racism” that produced an “apparatus of overaggressive and racist policing that has emerged to steer many black and brown bodies back into, in essence, a form of slavery.” Another Seattle police abolitionist, Kirsten Harris-Talley, served briefly as an appointed city councilwoman. Both Scott and Harris-Talley enjoy broad support from the city’s progressive establishment.

What would abolishing police mean as a practical policy matter? Nothing very practical. In The Nation, Mychal Denzel Smith argues that police should be replaced by “full social, economic, and political equality.” Harris-Talley, meantime, has traced policing’s origins back to slavery. “How do you reform an institution that from its inception was made to control, maim, condemn and kill people?” she asks. “Reform it back to what?” If cities can eliminate poverty through affordable housing and “investing in community,” she believes, the police will become unnecessary. Others argue that cities must simply “help people resolve conflicts through peace circles and restorative justice programs.”

Police abolitionists believe that they stand at the vanguard of a new idea, but this strain of thought dates to the 18th century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who believed that stripping away the corruptions of civilization would liberate the goodness of man. What police abolitionists fail to acknowledge is the problem of evil. No matter how many “restorative” programs it administers, even a benevolent centralized state cannot extinguish the risks of illness, violence and disorder. Contrary to the utopian vision of Rousseau and his intellectual descendants, chaos is not freedom; order is not slavery. In the modern world, civilization cannot be rolled back without dire consequences.

If anything like police abolition ever occurred, it’s easy to predict what would happen next. In the subsequent vacuum of physical power, wealthy neighborhoods would deploy private police forces, and poor neighborhoods would organize around criminal gangs — deepening structural inequalities and harming the very people that the police abolitionists say they want to help. Even Scott, when pressed by a local journalist about how he would respond to a shooting in his district, conceded that “we live in a world where it’s not possible to turn anywhere for help on big questions like this but to the police force.”

Reform the police? Sure. Abolish them? Never.

Christopher F. Rufo is a contributing editor of City Journal, documentary filmmaker, and research fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty. He’s directed four films for PBS, including his new film, “America Lost,” which tells the story of three “forgotten American cities.” This piece originally appeared in City Journal.

NYPD New Report – Black Perpetrators Dominate in Racist and Gay People Attacks

Truth Hate Crimes NYC

Last week, the NYPD published its hate-crimes report for the third quarter, and the results are troubling.

Start with the anti-Semitism. Over the last 12 months, there were 246 ­anti-Semitic crimes in the Big Apple, up from 144 over the previous 12 months. The number of anti-Semitic assaults jumped to 33 in 2018, up from 17 in 2017, and is on pace to rise again this year, with 19 in just the first half of the year. These attacks brutally target Orthodox Jews, often in broad daylight in Brooklyn neighborhoods that are home to the community.

Then there’s the anti-LGBT violence. The most recent quarterly report tallies 20 incidents, bringing the total number of attacks over the past 12 months to 63, up from 48 in the previous 12 months.

Finally, there’s the anti-Muslim violence, most of which goes ­unreported (and isn’t well-captured in the report as a result). Yet it is possible to track trends by paying attention to local news and other city agencies. Many of the attacks on this community take place in the Bronx.

Regardless of the victims’ identity, perpetrators too often escape justice. The attackers in the January anti-Muslim case were only caught because the mother of one of them turned in her 14-year-old son. The Muslim woman beaten up this spring, meanwhile, had to track down street-camera footage on her own before police would pursue the case, having initially dropped it after she failed to make an identification.

Yet there is little pressure on the NYPD from activists who are normally quick to denounce hate crimes and bigotry. What explains this silence? The perpetrators have been disproportionately black.

As the investigative reporter ­Armin Rosen pointed out in Tablet, “many of the [anti-Jewish] attacks are being carried out by people of color with no ties to the politics of white supremacy.” As he noted, even in cases where no one is caught, video footage overwhelmingly shows minority attackers. Blacks comprised seven of the nine anti-Jewish hate-crime perpetrators arrested during the third quarter.

In the most recent report, blacks comprised 24 of the 34 (71 percent) perpetrators arrested for all hate crimes. After reaching a high of 61 percent in the second quarter of 2018, the black share consistently declined to 14 percent in the second quarter of 2019 but has now shot back up. The NYPD doesn’t account for this odd oscillation, though one wonders if there is a political component to this, as well.

Black perpetrators are especially prominent in anti-LGBT crimes, comprising 10 of the 12 arrested for those crimes in the latest quarterly report. Overall, since the beginning of 2017, blacks comprised 56 percent — 61 of 108 — of those ­arrested for anti-LGBT hate crimes.

But in many urban areas, the problem is complicated by the fact that many of the perpetrators themselves are minorities. Just because facts make us uncomfortable, however, doesn’t mean we should ignore them.

The social-justice community must take hate-crime stats seriously — even when the crimes aren’t committed by white ­supremacists. We must find the courage to look at the warts in the black community before bigoted violence escalates even further.

Robert Cherry is a professor emeritus of economics at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center.

Retired Police Officer Dianna Muller creates the ‘The DC Project’ to protect Women

Dianna Muller lost count of how many times she responded to chillingly desperate calls for help during her 22 years as a police officer in Tulsa, Okla. The crime scenes she worked taught her that people need their right to bear arms. “I don’t wish for anyone to be defenseless,” Muller told the A1F. “I would like for everyone to be prepared to be their own first responder.”

This is a message she’s been bringing to the nation’s capital.

Since retirement, Muller has brought to life “The DC Project,” a nonpartisan group that draws women from all states and all walks of life to Washington, D.C., in an endeavor to share with lawmakers why they own and carry firearms. For some, it is because they were the victim of a rape.

For others, it is because they are single mothers with young children they need to protect. Whatever their story, they are all people who refuse to be unarmed victims. By meeting with lawmakers, they are bringing their human stories to this issue—the type of thing the mainstream media just won’t report.

She explains that police officers can’t be everywhere all the time. In the minutes it takes officers to get to a call for help, anything can happen. After two decades of investigating crimes and helping victims of criminals, she argues that gun rights are also women’s rights.

Muller, along with several other women, have recently had high-profile confrontations with politicians.

“I will not comply with the assault-weapons ban,” said Muller, as she testified to members of the House Judiciary Committee in September. She was referring to the desire of some Democrats to ban and confiscate AR-15-type rifles from the public. Her “I will not comply” declaration went viral as a rallying cry for freedom.

“There are a lot of politicians that believe disarming American citizens will make the country safer. They don’t have much experience with firearms, and it’s easier for them to chalk all the violence up to the tool instead of the human,” Muller explained to the A1F. “It seems as though our country is not teaching our children history or what kind of power they have as citizens. They are all too eager to give up their rights, thinking that it will give them safety.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Suzanna Hupp, a former member of the Texas House of Representatives who, after surviving the 1991 “Luby’s shooting” in which a murderer killed both of her parents, has continued to speak out as a passionate advocate for the law-abiding citizen’s right to carry.

“Please consider the high cost of gun control,” she told the Joint Economic Committee hearing in September. “I reached for my gun, but my gun was 100 yards away, dutifully left in my vehicle. I can tell you that the cost of gun control was my parents and 23 innocent lives.”

Lauren Boebert was yet another woman who made her mark in September. She challenged aspiring Democratic presidential nominee Beto O’Rourke’s gun-confiscation scheme at a town hall event. A video of the incident made waves across social media.

“I am here to say: Hell, no, you’re not,” she told O’Rourke, countering his “hell yes” that he’d ban and confiscate so-called “assault weapons” from the American citizenry.

These three bold women are just a few examples of millions more who don’t want to lose their right to personal defense.

Muller put it this way: “Women are likely to be smaller and less suited for a physical confrontation than an attacker. A firearm is the great equalizer. It doesn’t guarantee my security, but it does give me a chance. If I’m in that Walmart in El Paso, I want to be armed. If I hear a bump in the night, I want to be armed. Defending yourself is the most basic human right.”

The Growing Epidemic of Suicide Among LGBTQ Teens, Teen & Young Adult Males

The National Center for Health Statistics has released its report on teen deaths by suicide and homicide. The numbers illustrated in the report and by the Center for Disease Control are staggering.

Between 2007 and 2017, the suicide rate among individuals aged 15 to 24 rose by 50 percent. While the causes for this dramatic rise are being widely debated in the media, many media outlets are focusing specifically on the rise in minority and female suicides, as well as the elevated risk that LGBTQ-plus teens face.

The suicide rate for women aged 15 to 24 during this period rose 87 percent, to 5.8 per 100,000 people in 2017 from 3.1 in 2007. The suicide rate for African Americans of the same age group rose by 75 percent, to 10.7 in 2017 from 6.1 in 2007. These numbers demonstrate a crisis among American youth, yet most of the reporting on the issue has glossed over an even larger crisis: the suicide rate for men, primarily non-Hispanic white men, and American Indian and Alaskan Native men.

suicide statistics
Graph showing male and female average rates of suicide per 100,000 people from 2007 to 2017. (Courtesy David Brown)

Nationally, men commit suicide at a rate of almost four times that of women. Across every ethnic and age range, men commit significantly more suicides per 100,000. From 2007 to 2017, the suicide rate for 15- to 24-year-old white men jumped by 46 percent. Though a smaller increase than other groups, the per-100,000 number reached an astonishing 27.2, compared to 5.8 for all women nationally.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for white males between the ages of 5 and 34. The rate at which white men commit suicide continues to increase until briefly leveling off at 39.5 per 100,000 at 45 to 54 years old, before spiking to 58.8 over the age of 85.

In an equally depressing contrast, American Indian and Alaskan Native males have the highest suicide rate at 5 to 44 years old, peaking at 62.9 suicides per 100,000. While the suicide rate for white males remains high and even increases in later years, American Indian and Alaskan Native men see a steep decline as they age.

Even in comparison to groups that have widely been reported on for their disturbingly high rates of suicide, white and Native American men have significantly higher levels.

Active duty military personnel commit suicides at a rate of 24.8 per 100,000, while veterans take their own lives at a rate of 30 per 100,000. Both of these figures receive coverage from media outlets and politicians across the country for having a rate of suicide considerably higher than the national average of 14.5.

In the Annual Suicide Report released by the Department of Defense, the Pentagon states that these figures are misleading. According to the report: “On the surface, suicide in the military appears to be markedly higher than the U.S. population. … Nevertheless, the direct comparison of military suicide rates and the U.S. military population is misleading. It is well established that males have a nearly four times higher risk of suicide death than females.”

What the report fails to expand upon, beyond a brief acknowledgment, is that more than 70 percent of suicides in the military are committed specifically by white males.

Suicide statistics
Graph showing suicides per 100,000 people by race and gender for 2017. Source: CDC. (Courtesy David Brown)

The vast discrepancy between male and female suicides exists across the globe. In almost every country, from Ireland to Japan, from Russia to Bahrain, men kill themselves 3 to 5 times more often than women. The reasons for this are complex, widely debated, and further muddled by what is known as the Gender Paradox of Suicide.

Women across the globe attempt suicide at a rate of three to five times more than men, despite men successfully committing the majority of suicides. Men are less likely to seek mental health treatment than women, less likely to ask friends and family for help, face different societal pressures, and are more likely to use methods of suicide that have a greater chance of success, such as firearms.

Irrespective of the exact causes for the disparity in gender and race, more needs to be done to address this endemic issue. In the current political climate, proposing policies specifically aimed at white and male Americans is a nonstarter. Even acknowledging issues specific to “privileged” groups can lead to a caustic backlash. The rate of suicide is growing at an alarming rate across almost every demographic in the United States, all of whom deserve to be acknowledged and helped.

In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans intentionally took their own lives: 37,000 were men, and 30,000 of them were non-Hispanic white men. The increased rate of suicide among minorities and women is a burgeoning crisis, but the suicide rate among men, particularly white men, American Indians, and Alaskan Natives, is already a crisis, one that has been ignored for decades.

After graduating from the University of Florida in 2014 and from Florida State University in 2017, David Brown spent several years working at the Government Accountability Institute, where he researched corruption in politics. Brown specializes in health care, economics, and foreign policy.

Drunk Driving and Bad Science

“The enforcement of drunk-driving laws” has left “lives ruined and wrecked,” states American Institute for Economic Research’s Jeffrey Tucker.

And now comes news that “the science behind the breathalyzer is bogus,” leading to tens of thousands of cases “being thrown out around the country.”

A New York Times investigation, he notes, found: “The company that makes the machines for the police stations won’t share its technology or submit to a serious scientific review of its technology” while “tests of the tests” show them to be wildly inaccurate.

He sums up: “As it turns out, the only scientific way to determine blood-alcohol content is with blood tests. There are too many variables to make the breath alone reliable,” so we need to “seriously rethink the entire machinery of drunk-driving enforcement.”

Antifa-linked defendant gets 6 years in brutal baton attack in Portland

ANTIFA Beating

A 24-year-old man who authorities say was among masked Antifa supporters attacking conservatives at a June demonstration in Portland, Ore., was sentenced Friday to nearly six years in prison in connection with a brutal baton assault.

Gage Halupowski pleaded guilty to second-degree assault after authorities accused him of using a weapon against a conservative demonstrator who suffered blows to the head that the victim claims left him with a concussion and cuts that required 25 staples to close.

Andy Ngo@MrAndyNgo

Breaking: Antifa militant Gage Halupowski sentenced to nearly 6 years in prison for striking a man on head from behind w/a baton during riot. He was masked at the time & assaulted an officer while trying to escape. His lawyer says sentence is too severe. https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2019/11/baton-attack-during-june-protests-in-downtown-portland-lands-man-in-jail-for-nearly-6-years.html …

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

21.3K9:10 PM – Nov 1, 2019

After the assault, police saw Halupowski collapse his metal baton and conceal it in his pants, FOX 12 Oregon reported.

The attack outside a Portland hotel on June 29 was “completely unexplainable, completely avoidable and didn’t need to happen,” Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Melissa Marrero said, according to OregonLive.com.

Gage Halupowski, 24, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in connection with a baton attack in June, authorities say. (Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)

Gage Halupowski, 24, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in connection with a baton attack in June, authorities say. (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office)

Authorities say Halupowski attacked Adam Kelly as Kelly was attempting to help another man who’d been assaulted, the news outlet reported.

WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO

Portland Tribune@ThePortlandTrib

CONTENT WARNING: Police have declared a civil disturbance after a violent brawl broke out between left- and right-wing protesters today. Video by Sergio Olmos/Underscore. Full story: https://bit.ly/321Hxbu 2525:55 PM – Jun 29, 2019

Halupowski’s defense attorney, Edward Kroll, called his client’s prison term “one of the harshest sentences I’ve seen for someone with no criminal background and young age,” but acknowledged that having the attack caught on video left Halupowski with few legal options other than accepting a plea deal.

Marrero disagreed, calling the sentence appropriate for Halupowski’s crimes, according to OregonLive.com.

Charges dropped under Halupowski’s plea agreement included unlawful use of a weapon, attempted assault of a public safety officer and interfering with a peace officer, the outlet reported.

The attack against Kelly occurred the same day that a group of assailants attacked conservative writer Andy Ngo, dousing him with liquids and pelting him with objects, with those attacks also caught on video.

Ngo claims he was later hospitalized with a brain hemorrhage and says no suspects have yet been charged in connection with the assaults against him.

Violent clashes between Antifa supporters and members of conservative groups have been a vexing problem for the city of Portland, whose mayor, Ted Wheeler, has faced harsh criticism for the city’s response to such events. President Trump and some Republicans in Congress have called for Antifa to be declared a domestic terror organization.

By Dom Calicchio

West Coast Crime Plague

A “shoplifting boom” is plaguing West Coast retailers, Christopher Rufo warns at City Journal: “Since 2010, thefts increased by 22 percent in Portland, 50 percent in San Francisco and 61 percent in Los Angeles.”

Driving it is “an explosion in addiction rates for heroin, fentanyl and meth” — since getting cash for drugs is “the most common single motivation for crime” across America.

And the problem “has only accelerated because of decriminalization,” as “many criminals now believe, justifiably, that they can steal with impunity.” Fearing lawsuits, many stores no longer try to stop even blatant shoplifters.

San Francisco “now leads the nation in overall property crime,” while the problem is driving retailers to close their downtown Seattle shops. Yet the leaders of progressive cities still “refuse to consider how mass decriminalization fuels a breakdown in public order.”

Why we keep falling for hate-crime hoaxes? Children are lying…

Truth Hate Crimes in the U.S.

Last month, 12-year-old Amari Allen appeared on television to share how she had been brutalized by racist white boys at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia. The sixth-grader, who is black, wept as she recalled how she was pinned down during recess, had her arms pulled behind her back and had a hand placed over her mouth so she couldn’t scream.

She said the boys cut off her dreadlocks, calling it “nappy.” By Monday, it was revealed that, following an investigation by Fairfax County Police, the girl admitted she had made it all up.

When the story first broke, left-wing politicians and activists raged. Rep. Rashida Tlaib published a personalized message on Twitter to the girl: “You see, Amari, you may not feel it now but you have a power that threatens their core. I can’t wait to watch you use it and thrive.” On Twitter, some even found a way to blame the Trump administration, noting ominously that Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, teaches art part-time at the school.

As with Jussie Smollett’s original accusations, Allen’s yarn had all the elements of a rage-bait story. Fervid media interest turned a regional non-incident into a national crisis, featured prominently and uncritically on televised reports from NBC, MSNBC, CNN and CBS, in addition to numerous print and online outlets.

Left-wing activists and the mainstream media refuse to learn lessons about hate-crime hoaxes. Sensational claims deserve additional scrutiny. Was Allen or her family asked why no known students had come forward to corroborate her claims? She said it happened during recess — around dozens of other students presumably.

The accused boys were also never sought for comment. On the contrary, the NAACP demanded “immediate disciplinary action” against the minor suspects. 

It’s hard to blame the public and media consumers for their naive credulity. The real problem is that highly publicized fake hate crimes like this one usually receive little public coverage after it is revealed that the original accusation was a hoax.

Then, too, few Americans are aware that in just the past few years, several children have been caught fabricating hate-crime allegations.

In January 2017, police in Gambrills, Maryland, identified a “14-year-old black female” as the suspect responsible for sending out a violent racist threat against her high school using a Twitter account pretending to be part of the Ku Klux Klan.

The following month, students at Plano West Senior High in Texas discovered their school vandalized with racist, anti-black graffiti all over its buildings and school vans. After several months, police arrested and charged Alexandria Monet Butler and Elizabeth Joy Police, two black female minors, for the incident. They were caught on camera vandalizing the school.

Then last year, a 5-year-old black child in Grand Rapids, Michigan, launched a frenzied police search after she told her family that a white man in the neighborhood had urinated on her and called her a racist slur. A 60-year-old man was arrested. The child made up the story with her friends.

Nor are incidents like these confined to the United States. In early 2018, Khawlah Noman, an 11-year-old Muslim girl in Toronto, claimed that a man had attacked her by cutting her hijab. The story reverberated across the country, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately issuing comments condemning Islamophobia in Canada. Local police invested huge resources into catching the at-large suspect. Noman had fabricated the incident. She was never charged.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf is as old as time immemorial, to be sure. What’s different today is the mind-boggling credulity of mainstream media and politicians, who jump to ideological conclusions and dial the outrage to 11 before the facts have played out.

It’s no surprise that children lie, but when they are rewarded by an all-too-willing media and audience, we should expect more incidents like what happened in Virginia. The final result: Americans are bound to become ever more cynical and skeptical of hate-crime allegations — even when they’re true.

Andy Ngo is a journalist in Portland, Oregon. Twitter: @MrAndyNgo