3 years ago

Alabama AG Marshall Shuts Down Fraudulent Credit Repair Company

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced on Monday that a Montgomery credit repair company has been shut down by court order at the request of his office. The Attorney General’s office reached a settlement with Scott’s Credit Repair and its owners John C. Scott and Krystal Scott, in which the defendants are prohibited from engaging in any credit reporting activity and barred from owning or managing any business within the state of Alabama.

The court issued the injunction on October 25 in response to a complaint filed by the Attorney General’s office on October 23. The Attorney General’s complaint stated that “from beginning to end, the consumer experience with Scott’s Credit Repair is rooted in deception and illegality.”

“These defendants conducted their business in flagrant disregard of the law and without concern for providing an honest and worthwhile service to their customers,” Marshall said. “This action should send a message to others that the State of Alabama will put a stop to such unscrupulous practices.”

According to a press release from Marshall’s office, Scott’s Credit Repair frequently deceived and defrauded customers in Montgomery and throughout the state. The defendants “engaged in deceptive advertising that perpetuates their empty promises of better lives for their customers, they have made false statements to both credit bureaus and to consumers, they have defrauded consumers by illegally charging them before services are completed and by charging them different rates than those they advertise, and they have failed to permit at least one consumer to cancel their services within three days in violation of the federal law governing credit repair businesses.”

The Attorney General’s office accused the defendants of several fraudulent advertising schemes, including paying customers to write fraudulent, positive reviews. Marshall’s office also alleges that the defendants practiced “jamming” to create the illusion of improved credit. In extreme cases, the defendants would claim that customers had been victims of identity theft in order to get negative items removed from their credit report.

In addition to illegal business practices, the defendants also accepted payment in a manner contrary to law. Scott’s Credit Repair repeatedly forced customers to pay for services up front, even though it is illegal to do so, and even prevented customers from cancelling services within the allowed three day window.

Attorney General Marshall was pleased to prevent such a deceptive and evil business from operating with Alabama consumers.

2 hours ago

Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator sets first Demo Day Dec. 8

The first class of Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator is prepping and finalizing business cases and ideas for its inaugural Demo Day. The Dec. 8 event, at 1 p.m., is an opportunity for the 10 participating startups to pitch their businesses to potential investors across the globe.

“Our first class of companies for the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator has done a tremendous job leaning into the process, refining their respective business strategies and engaging and pulling from the expertise of the vast mentor network the program offers,” said Nate Schmidt, Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator managing director. “There’s a lot of excitement with our Techstars team and the companies around Demo Day. We can’t wait to showcase their innovative and thoughtful solutions for energy and clean tech.”

The event will be held virtually and is open to the public. To register, visit https://techstarsalabamaenergytechdemoday2020.eventbrite.com.

The event also will be available at the link after the live stream for viewing anytime.

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Demo Day will feature the 10 companies of the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator. The companies specialize in technology and business models in the energy sector, including a digital marketplace for the electric wholesale industry, battery storage and microgrid solutions, and smart home software. Here are the companies:

  • Project Canary: Continuous air-quality monitoring and environmental data analytics platform to help solve climate change, from Denver, Colorado.
  • Sync Energy: Simplifies access to artificial intelligence for energy analytics, forecasting and loss prevention, from New York City.
  • Ashipa Electric: Microgrid solutions provider and developer, from Birmingham.
  • Virimodo: Carbon and energy monitoring platform to help building owners go green, from New York City.
  • Con.doit: Platform for electrical systems analysis and failure prediction, from Birmingham.
  • Resilient Power Systems: Building block to reduce grid infrastructure upgrade costs related to electric vehicles and clean energy, from Atlanta.
  • EnergyHawk: A SaaS mapping platform that uses satellite imagery and predictive analytics to generate energy assessment profiles for commercial and industrial facilities, from Boston.
  • TruSpin: Large-scale producer of a rare material used to affordably increase the energy density of lithium-ion batteries, from Birmingham.
  • ShipShape AI: A predictive maintenance platform that integrates smart home devices and connects service providers, from Austin, Texas.
  • Elektrik: Online marketplace for the electrical equipment industry, from Salt Lake City.

Since the program began at the beginning of September, startups have received seed investment, mentorship through Techstars’ worldwide network of business leaders – including Alabama’s business community – and business coaching through the program’s educational components.

The Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator is supported by Alabama Power, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA), the Alabama Department of CommerceAltecPowerSouth and the University of Alabama. They have a key role in the accelerator process, with the common goal of growing the number of startup companies based in Alabama.

For more information, visit the Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator program page at www.techstars.com or contact Partnership Manager Alan Bates at acbates@southernco.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 hours ago

ACCA’s Brasfield warns ‘big crisis right over the horizon’ for county jails as ADOC blocks inmate transfer to prisons

Since late March, the Alabama Department of Corrections has drastically limited the number of inmates it is allowing into its facilities, an action which was taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

However, as the courts are resuming criminal trials, the ADOC has created a burden for the jails in Alabama’s 67 counties, which have a backlog of state-sentenced inmates sitting in county jails awaiting transfer.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5 on Friday, Association of County Commissions of Alabama executive direction Sonny Brasfield warned the current arrangement was unsustainable.

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“Certainly in the last nine months, the state of Alabama has significantly limited its acceptance of state-sentenced inmates from the jails into Department of Corrections,” he said. “Today, when we get the report, we fully expect there to be more than 2,000 state-sentenced inmates that are sitting in county jails. And then there are another 1,300 or so who were parole and probation violators that are also awaiting transfer. There is a big crisis right over the horizon.”

Brasfield said the state of Alabama was paying counties out of CARES Act money to help shoulder the burden, but the jails continue to be overwhelmed.

“One of the positive things about the CARES Act is that administration has not turned a deaf ear,” Brasfield continued. “The administration understands that the decision they make to slow down, and in some months, stop intake, has put counties under a significant strain. So counties are receiving $28 per day per inmate from the CARES Act funding to cover costs. What we’ve said to the state all along is that money is only buying us time so that the state can resume a regular intake of inmates. And that money runs out December 30, unless Congress takes some answer, and even so, counties are not able to hold these inmates long-term simply if the state can provide money to do that. Jails are not long-term facilities. They are not constructed for that purpose. And if we move to the rural parts of the state, there are just not enough beds for us to assume the job of the Department of Corrections.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

6 hours ago

Alabama to again host world’s longest annual paddle race in 2021

Paddlers from across the United States will again race each other down 650 miles of Alabama’s scenic rivers in 2021 in the Great Alabama 650 (AL650), the world’s longest annual paddle race.

The third annual AL650 begins Sept. 18 on Weiss Lake in Centre. Racers will have 10 days to reach Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay via the core section of the Alabama Scenic River Trail, the longest river trail in a single state and one of the most biologically diverse regions of the United States. Laura Gaddy, communications director of the trail, said next year’s race will be similar to this year’s competition.

“The AL650 is the longest annual paddle race in the world, and it is one of the toughest endurance events on the planet,” Gaddy said. “Racers will once again face whitewater, battle tidewater currents and hike around a dozen dams in this 650-mile, adventure-style paddle race.”

This year’s AL650 was won by Atlanta’s Paul Cox, a Youkon 1000 finisher, and Joe Mann, who months before had been one member in the winning boat for the MR340, a well-established race beloved by many highly competitive U.S. paddlers. Bobby Johnson, who won the AL650 in 2019, came in second overall, followed by Salli O’Donnell, last year’s runner-up.

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“Prior to the Great Alabama 650, which was held for the first time in 2019, only about 30 people had been recognized for finishing the core section of the trail, and most took about a month to complete the journey,” Gaddy said. “In contrast, racers only have 10 days to complete the course and the winning boat in 2020 finished in fewer than six days.”

Gaddy adds COVID-19 delivered an unexpected twist to this year’s race.

“The race forced other long-distance races to postpone competitions in 2020,” Gaddy said. “As a result, paddlers who planned to enter the Alabama race in a later year were able to prioritize paddling in the AL650.”

Despite the pandemic, many spectators found places along the route to cheer on racers while maintaining a safe social distance from other spectators.

“Racers recognize this aspect of the AL650 as one of the best parts of the competition,” Gaddy said. “Competitors who returned in 2020 said they were not disappointed.”

Registration for the 2021 AL650 opens Jan. 1 and will be limited to 20 entrants. To compete in the 2021 AL650, racers must prove they competed in one of 18 qualifying races within the past five years. For more information, visit al650.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

8 hours ago

What to watch: Auburn vs. Texas A&M edition

Auburn welcomes the Texas A&M Aggies (6-1) to Jordan-Hare Stadium for the ninth game of their 2020 schedule. The Tigers are looking to bounce back from an uninspiring loss to Alabama, while Texas A&M hopes to continue their impressive season and make their way into the College Football Playoff.

Texas A&M is led by Jimbo Fisher, a former Auburn assistant, in his third season as the head man for the Aggies. Fisher has underwhelmed many in his first two seasons, so the success of the 2020 campaign so far has been much needed. This season the Aggies only loss was to Alabama early in the year, and they boast one of the best wins in the SEC this year, a 41-38 victory over the Florida Gators.

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Take a look at three things which will determine if Auburn can bounce back from a disappointing loss last week or if the Aggies can continue their march toward a top-4 CFP ranking.

Kellen Mond

Texas A&M’s offense is led by senior quarterback Kellen Mond. Although it is only his fourth season, it seems as if Mond has been in College Station for a decade. Over his four seasons as the Aggies’ quarterback, Mond’s performance has been something of a roller coaster ride.

Kellen Mond is certainly talented and capable of making any play that the Aggies’ coaching staff asks of him. However, it has been a lack of consistency from Mond that has put a limit on the Aggies’ ceiling the past few seasons. On days that Mond is locked in, he gives Texas A&M a very good chance to win.

Mond has not set the world on fire this year, completing only about 59% of his passes and throwing for roughly 225 yards per game. But, the big improvement in 2020 has been his ability to avoid turning the ball over, as he has only thrown two interceptions this season. Whether or not Auburn can make Kellen Mond uncomfortable and force him to make costly errors will be a determining factor in today’s matchup.

Auburn O-Line vs. Texas A&M D-Line

Auburn’s offensive line has been a question mark all season. The group had a very rough start to the year (as many expected), but seemed to find their footing and form continuity as the season moved on. However, during the Tennessee game both starting offensive tackles were injured and that has forced reshuffling of some players and an introduction of newcomers.

It is always difficult to make those changes, but the Texas A&M defensive front is not a group that you want to have to try and find answers against. The Aggies are second in the SEC in sacks per game and first in tackles for loss per game. Texas A&M has done a very good job of creating negative plays for opposing offenses all season. The Auburn offensive line must find a way to at least stalemate the the Aggies defensive line in order to have a chance to win the game.

Can Auburn slow down Isaiah Spiller?

Auburn has faced three of the top four rushers in the SEC already this season. Those three backs combined to average 118 yards per game on over 6.5 yards per carry and all scored at least one touchdown. Today, the Tigers face the rusher tied for the lead in rushing yards per game in sophomore standout tailback Isaiah Spiller.

Spiller has proven to be a strong and elusive runner that is capable of making defenders miss and also outracing defenses for breakaway plays. The Auburn defense will have their hands full against Spiller and must bounce back after a tough week against Alabama’s star running back Najee Harris. The Tigers defenders must be up for the challenge and set the tone for the team by stopping Spiller early and often if they want to emerge victorious against Texas A&M.

Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers. You can contact him by email: zack@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @z_m_shaw

9 hours ago

Public land provides opportunities to hunt rut all season

Most people think the rutting activity of white-tailed deer in Alabama occurs mostly in January and into February. However, if you’re willing to travel, hunters can take advantage of the rut in the state from mid-November through early February.

Plus, you can hunt the rut during that lengthy period on public land, according to Chris Smith of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division.

Early in the 20th century, Alabama’s deer herd was extremely limited because of unregulated harvest. Most of the animals were in southwest Alabama, with isolated pockets throughout the state. Extensive restocking efforts were conducted, which included trapping and relocating deer from southwest Alabama, mainly from the Clarke County area, as well as bringing in deer from other parts of the United States. Deer were transported from Arkansas, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.

For the most part, the transplanted deer maintained their native rutting activity, which is why Smith, Assistant Chief in the WFF’s Wildlife Section, said hunters can find rutting activity in Alabama for most of deer season.

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For the majority of the state, the deer rut considerably later in the season, and it was reasonable to extend the season dates to end on February 10. The seasons in Zone D and Zone E start early and end early.

Smith said WFF-owned, maintained or managed wildlife management areas (WMAs) are pretty much scattered throughout the state.

“We’ve got WMAs in the Black Belt region, some in the Cumberland Plateau, some in the Tennessee River Valley,” he said. “We have a WMA in every physiographic region of the state.”

The WFF’s Wildlife Section manages about 750,000 acres within the WMA and Special Opportunity Area (SOA) programs. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) owns 366,000 acres through WFF, the State Lands Division and Forever Wild Land Trust. Federally owned acreage of 345,000 acres is managed through cooperative agreements with the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. About 38,000 acres are privately owned acreage managed through “In-Kind” lease agreements.

“One of the unique things to me and something that people are starting to realize is that the rut situation across the state allows somebody to hunt during rutting activity from the first of November until the end of deer season on February 10,” Smith said.

This year, Zone D in northwest Alabama and Zone E with areas in northeast and southeast Alabama opened the gun deer season for antlered bucks on November 7 and their season will close on January 27, 2021.

The Black Warrior WMA is in Zone D, and the Choccolocco WMA is in Zone E.

“For the first time, we had gun season and multiple gun hunts during the peak rut on those WMAs,” Smith said. “This year, the season opened November 7, and I keep getting emails with photos of some superb mature bucks taken on those two WMAs because they’re hunting during the rut.”

Despite the regular gun deer season closing on January 27 in Zone D and Zone E, the gun hunts on Black Warrior and Choccolocco end in December.

“We don’t have January hunts on those WMAs because a lot of those bucks have dropped their antlers,” Smith said. “We don’t want to have any hunts where people might shoot a buck thinking it’s a doe because it didn’t have antlers.”

Of course, white-tailed deer is not the only hunting opportunity on public land in the state.

“Several of our WMAs have fantastic squirrel and rabbit hunting,” Smith said. “One of the opportunities that is coming along through some habitat work we’ve been doing the last several years is we’re starting to see an increase in our bobwhite quail populations. That is something a lot of people would like to see.

“The habitat work involves converting commercial forests into longleaf pine forest. And we’re starting to manage some early successional habitat. We’re starting to see a response to that. We monitor quail covey calls. Although it’s not going gangbusters, in these WMAs where this habitat work is being done, we’re seeing an increase in the number of coveys each year.”

Smith said if anyone is hesitant about hunting on one of the WMAs or land available to hunting through the Forever Wild program, they can contact WFF personnel for advice.

“One thing people seem to be afraid to do is to give us a call,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to who just decided to call us one day. In that phone conversation, they’re kind of shocked that we could provide so much helpful information. That’s our job. I would encourage people who are interested in hunting our WMAs to call the district office or the WMA manager. Their jobs are providing hunting habitat and hunting access. Now sometimes they are busy, but don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

With new technology, a plethora of information about the public hunting opportunities is available, but Smith said nothing can replace boots on the ground.

“I hunt Hollins WMA for turkeys,” he said. “When I started hunting there, I wanted to learn the land. You can go and hunt, but, while you’re hunting, take the opportunity to learn the access points and terrain.

“And take advantage of map programs like OnX to do some desktop scouting. Look for the drainage ditch points and saddles. Look for a curve in a road or a curve in a creek. Then you can go on the ground and actually check those areas out. If you don’t know what to look for, pick up the phone and call.”

One thing about hunting public land, especially on weekends, is the likelihood that you will encounter other hunters, which means courtesy is paramount.

“If you go to an area you had in mind to hunt and see a vehicle parked there, go to plan B or plan C,” Smith said. “Have respect for the other users. If you do, you generally get the same respect in return. Take it slow, practice hunting safety and be respectful of your public hunting brothers and sisters.”

To hunt the WMAs, you’ll need a valid statewide hunting license, a WMA license, and either a printed WMA permit for the area you plan to hunt or registration on the Outdoor AL app on your smartphone.

“On the WMAs in District II, you also have to have a daily permit, either paper or on your Outdoor AL app,” Smith said. “Next year, that requirement will be statewide. You will either check in and check out with the Outdoor AL app or get a daily permit from one of the kiosks at the WMAs, fill it out and drop it in the box.”

For people who are still a little hesitant about hunting public land, Smith suggests planning a trip during the week instead of the weekend. Of course, you’ll have to check each WMA to determine what hunting is allowed.

“People who go to our WMAs during the week often have thousands of acres all to themselves,” Smith said. “If you’re new to hunting public land, go during the week, get your feet on the ground, do your scouting and have many, many acres to yourself.”

Visit https://www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/where-hunt-alabama for more information on hunting on public land.

David Rainer is an award-winning writer who has covered Alabama’s great outdoors for 25 years. The former outdoors editor at the Mobile Press-Register, he writes for Outdoor Alabama, the website of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.