Spotting an Impostor: Scammers Pose as Friends, Family and Government Agencies

It’s easy to think “It couldn’t happen to me.” But scammers know how to get around our better judgment. They play on our emotions or promise big payoffs to get us to act. And many use the names of government agencies like the FTC, trusted companies, or friends and family to get us to buy into their schemes. We may not be able to spot the impostor until it’s too late.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know that scammers are posing as people, agencies and companies you know and trust. They may use phone calls, emails, letters, faxes or even text messages in their deceptions. To see past the disguise, you need to be alert to signs of an impostor scam:

DCF Calls Out Fake Food Stamp Website

DCF Calls Out Fake Food Stamp Website

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Division of Children and Families is calling a website that purports to help people apply for food stamps online a scam.

According to spokesperson John Harrell, is not a place for people to turn to online as a means to get food stamps.

In fact, Harrell said the DCF website,, is the only legitimate way for those who need assistance to get it.

"The problem and the danger is that they could be giving their personal information to people who could be scamming them out of money. This is of great concern to us at DCF because there's a lot of people who are suffering at this time economically. And there are websites that are taking money from people who don't have much to begin with," Harrell said.

Tonight: 17th Annual Bud Light Draft Party at SUITE & Whisky River

Tonight: 17th Annual Bud Light Draft Party at SUITE & Whisky River

Join the Jacksonville Jaguars as they host the 17th Annual Bud Light Draft Party presented by PRI Productions at 6:30 p.m. on tonight, at The Markets at Town Center, between SUITE and Whisky River. Admission is free for an evening of football and festivities. 

4 Arrested, Accused of Setting Brush Fire near Mandarin High

4 Arrested, Accused of Setting Brush Fire near Mandarin High

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Four teens have been arrested following the third fire this month at or near Mandarin High School.

Investigators said an anonymous tip came in to school officials that led to the arrests. The fire burned 4 acres of woods on property adjacent to the school's Thursday, but there was no property damage or school disruption.

The land is owned by JEA.

Andy Redding, a detective with the state fire marshal's office, said that the four students were being arrested today. The suspects are between 15- and 17-years old, but Redding did not say where they went to school.

The four admitted to lighting paper on fire with a lighter, he said.

They will each face charges of one count of willful intentional burning of wildlands, a third degree felony. Redding called the incident a normal act for juveniles, saying there was no ill intent.

4-Acre Blaze Contained in Woods Near Mandarin High School

4-Acre Blaze Contained in Woods Near Mandarin High School

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- For the third time in recent days, a fire has broken out near Mandarin High School.

Today's fire, which was contained in three hours, broke out in a wooded area behind the school and burned about 4 acres around 11 a.m., said Division of Forestry spokesperson Annaleasa Winter.

The 4-acre fire flared up in a swampy, wooded area about a half-mile from the school between the school grounds and Interstate 295, she said.

DOF created fire lines and ensured the had not spread. She added that it was quickly contained and did no damage to school property. The cause is unclear.

The fire never posed a threat to the school, said John Bracy, spokesman for Jacksonville Fire and Rescue, which aslo responded.

Mandarin High Students: Smoking Marijuana Led to Fire

Mandarin High Students: Smoking Marijuana Led to Fire

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One of the two Mandarin High School students arrested for arson said they had gone under the football stadium to smoke marijuana, according to police.

The fire broke out under the stadium on March 3, causing nearly $200,000 in damage to the stadium, a classroom and some sports equipment.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the students, 15-year-old Darrell Lamont Jones Jr. and 16-year-old Keith Devon Graham Jr.,  went under the stadium to smoke marijuana at about 7:30 that morning.

At one point, according to statements the suspects gave police, they started daring each other to strike matches and throw them on high jump cushions that were stored nearby.

They caught on fire, and the suspects said they then sprayed cologne on the cushions.

When the fire grew, Jones said he tried to extinguish it with a broom, but they both left the area when the fire got out of hand.

New Photos Emerge in Investigation into Mandarin High Fire

New Photos Emerge in Investigation into Mandarin High Fire

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Two suspects have been arrested in the fire at a storage shed at Mandarin High School more than a week ago, but a student at Mandarin High School, who said he wants to remain anonymous, sent us these photos from the fire.

State Fire Marshal's Office detective Andy Redding said earlier this week another fire in the school's auditorium appears to have been intentionally set in a second-floor storage area. Redding said it caused about $100 in damage.