Immigrant Community Increasingly Targeted by Scammers

first_imgScammers are targeting North Carolinians, with the state ranking 16th in the country for numbers of scam reports to the Federal Trade Commission. While older people have long been assumed to be targets of con artists, consumer advocates say immigrants also are falling victim to crimes like identity theft and imposter phone calls and emails.Attorney David Tarpley says scammers know they’re dealing with people who aren’t familiar with how things are done in this country.“They may not understand everything they’re told, but they still go along with it,” says Tarpley. “The other reason is, they’re not as used to the customs they’ll encounter in the U.S., the way things are generally done and not done.”Debt collection scams, identity theft and imposter scams top the list of complaints in the Tar Heel State. Charlotte, Fayetteville and Greensboro have the highest number of reports.Experts advise against providing personal identifying information to callers who claim to be from a bank or a creditor, as this is not normal practice for legitimate agencies.Monica Vaca, associate director of the Division of Consumer Response and Operations with the Federal Trade Commission, advises against letting any caller spur you into immediate action, regardless of what they claim the consequences are.“Sometimes it sounds really scary,” says Vaca. “Sometimes it sounds like you’re in trouble, or somebody else is in trouble. Take a moment, pause, talk to somebody about this call – because sometimes, just saying it out loud helps you realize that this is a scam.”She also cautions people to be suspicious of callers who use threats of violence or harm, say they will publish a list of names of people who don’t pay their debts, or use obscene language. And reporting these instances can help authorities track scammers and warn others about them. One place to start is the state attorney general’s consumer protection hotline, at 877-5-NO SCAM. (877-566-7226)last_img read more

‘Armored lizard’ was ancestor of today’s turtles

first_imgIt’s a primitive turtle, but it looks nothing like today’s dome-shelled reptiles. Resembling a broad-bodied, short-snouted lizard, the 240-million-year-old creature—dubbed Pappochelys rosinae—appears to be a missing link between prototurtles and their modern relatives, according to a new study. If so, the find could fill in a number of pieces about turtle evolution.The findings are “a very important contribution in addressing who turtles are related to, as well as the evolutionary origin of the turtle shell,” says Tyler Lyson, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science who was not involved with the study. “These have been two vexing questions for evolutionary biologists for the last 200 years.”About two dozen or so fossils of the creature have been recovered, all of them from 240-million-year-old rocks deposited as sediment on the floor of a shallow, 5-kilometer-long lake in what is now southern Germany. Most of the remains include only bits of bone and are from individuals of various sizes, says Hans-Dieter Sues, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. But between the two most complete specimens yet found, he and Rainer Schoch, a paleontologist at the State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart in Germany, have put together a full skeleton and most of a skull.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)P. rosinae adults likely measured about 20 centimeters long, with half of that being a long, whiplike tail. (The species name is a combination of the Greek words for “grandfather turtle” and the person who helped clean rock from the fossils to prepare them for analysis.) Its peglike teeth suggest the animal fed on worms and other soft-bodied prey, Sues says. Yet skeletal anatomy reveals Pappochelys was no run-of-the-mill lizard, Sues and Schoch report online today in Nature.  Unlike lizards, but much like the earliest known relative of turtles (Eunotosaurus, which lived in what is now South Africa about 20 million years earlier), Pappochelys’s ribs are broad, dense, and have a T-shaped cross section. In later, full-shelled species of turtles, those ribs are even wider and have fused with each other and certain bones in the shoulder girdle to form a carapace, or upper shell. But unlike the earlier Eunotosaurus, Pappochelys has gastralia, or belly ribs. These free-floating bones developed within the tissue of the underbelly, Sues says; in more evolved species of turtles, these gastralia broaden and fuse to form a plastron, or lower shell.Because the fossils were originally entombed in lake floor sediments, the researchers suggest that Pappochelys spent a lot of its time in the water and around the lakeshore—a lifestyle similar to that of today’s marine iguanas, Sues says. So having broad, dense bones and gastralia would have acted like a diver’s weight belt, helping Pappochelys fight buoyancy and forage on the lake’s bottom. But these bones would also have had a beneficial side effect: They would have offered some degree of protection from predators, such as large amphibians or fish living in the lake, by deflecting or blunting their bites.“In the water, predators can get you from all angles,” Sues notes. Over millions of years, evolution sculpted the bones to create the full set of body armor seen in modern-day turtles. The first full-shelled turtles show up in the fossil record about 205 million years ago.The two distinctive holes on the side of the head behind each eye of Pappochelys provide vital clues to the evolutionary heritage of turtles, says Torsten Scheyer, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland who was not involved in the work. Those holes mark the species as a member of the diapsid (“two arches”) group of reptiles. That diapsid group includes crocodiles, lizards, snakes, dinosaurs, and their surviving kin, birds. But because modern turtle skulls lack these holes, some scientists have proposed that turtles were the last surviving members of an anapsid (“no arches”) lineage of reptiles. But now, he adds, these fossils of turtle progenitors firmly back up the results of genetic analyses of living reptiles: Turtles belong on the diapsid branch of the reptilian family tree.Scheyer says fossils that are even more complete, or ones that have the bones preserved in more lifelike arrangements, would provide better information about the species. “I’m really looking forward to see more research done on these outstanding fossils.”last_img read more