Beware Of Entities Posing As State Agencies To Send Purchase Orders – Corridor News | #coronavirus | #scams | #covid19

Staff Report

Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton is the lawyer for the State of Texas and is charged by the Texas Constitution to:

  • defend the laws and the Constitution of the State of Texas
  • represent the State in litigation
  • approve public bond issues

To fulfill these responsibilities, the Office of the Attorney General serves as legal counsel to all boards and agencies of state government, issues legal opinions when requested by the Governor, heads of state agencies, and other officials and agencies as provided by Texas statutes.

The Texas AG sits as an ex-officio member of state committees and commissions and defends challenges to state laws and suits against both state agencies and individual employees of the State.

Many Texans look to the Office of the Attorney General for guidance with disputes and legal issues. The agency receives hundreds of letters, phone calls, and visits each week about crime victims’ compensation, child support, abuse in nursing homes, possible consumer fraud, and other topics.

To find out more about the Texas Attorney General, visit the official website at https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/.

AG Paxton: Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Awarded $20 Million Settlement for Bastrop State Park Restoration

AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today commended a settlement awarding $20 million to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) to remedy devastation caused by the failure of Asplundh Tree Expert, LLC to properly manage vegetation growth.

Almost nine years ago to the day, unmaintained trees damaged power lines and sparked a wildfire that destroyed 1,700 homes and burned 96 percent of the Bastrop State Park, which is one of only seven state parks across the country that have been designated as a National Historical Landmark.

“This settlement marks a monumental step in the continued restoration of the Bastrop State Park and healing of this beautiful Texas community,” said Attorney General Paxton. “After fires and floods brought colossal damage, TPWD has been expertly nursing this state treasure back to health. As more work is still needed, I commend this settlement and the hard work of everyone involved for providing much needed remedy to this stunning Texas landmark and those who fight for its conservation.”

“The Bastrop wildfire was unquestionably a tragedy that took a terrible toll on the local community, Bastrop State Park, and the unique ecology of the Lost Pines,” said Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. “This landmark settlement will go a long way to help recover the state park and its wildlife and plant communities. By investing in strategic land acquisition and restoration around the park, this will benefit people and wildlife for decades to come. We all owe a debt of thanks to the state Office of the Attorney General for diligent assistance with this case.”

After facing the most economically destructive wildfire in Texas history, the Bastrop State Park is under continued, successful restoration and is now open in accordance with health and safety limitations and guidelines.

Learn more about the park at https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/bastrop.

Read a copy of the settlement here.

AG Paxton Sues Harris County Clerk to Prevent Him from Unlawfully Sending Out Millions of Unsolicited Mail-In Ballot Applications

AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed a lawsuit against Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins for sending unsolicited mail-in ballot applications to over two million Harris County registered voters in blatant violation of Texas election laws.

Under Texas election law, mail-in ballots are reserved for a few limited categories of qualified voters who are age 65 and older and voters who are disabled. Earlier this year, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that fear of contracting COVID-19 does not qualify as a “disability” and mail-in ballots must be preserved for qualifying groups.

The Harris County Clerk’s proposed mass mailing would sow confusion because applications would go to all registered voters, regardless of whether they legally qualify to vote a mail ballot and regardless of whether they even want to vote by mail.

Texas law requires the clerk to send applications to voters who specifically request them.

“Election officials have a duty to reject mail-in ballot applications from voters who are not eligible to vote by mail. Unfortunately, instead of protecting the integrity of our democratic process, the Harris County Clerk decided to knowingly violate election laws by preparing to send over two million ballot applications to many Texans who do not qualify and have not requested to vote by mail,” said Attorney General Paxton. “This blatant violation of law undermines our election security and integrity and cannot stand. I will continue to fight for safe, fair, and legal elections across the state.”

Read a copy of the lawsuit here.

AG Paxton Defends Women’s Health and Safety in Multistate Amicus Brief

AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today joined 10 states in a friend-of-the-court brief requesting that the United States Supreme Court stay an injunction that suspended important health and safety requirements imposed by federal law for the prescription of mifepristone – a drug that causes an abortion.

Currently, federal and state laws require physical examinations and in-person dispensing of mifepristone to ensure that physicians examine the patient and inform them of the significant risks to her body, including infection, hemorrhage, and death.

“The COVID-19 pandemic only reinforces the need to follow reasonable guidelines when prescribing potentially dangerous or life-threatening medications. To argue otherwise is to disregard women’s health and safety in the name of convenience,” said Attorney General Paxton. “This medication is strictly required to be dispensed in-person due to the serious risks it poses.”

The use of abortion medications without close physician supervision presents severe risks to women’s health and safety.

Mifepristone is approved strictly through ten weeks of pregnancy, with later use involving a higher risk of failure, infection, and endangering the patient’s life.

Read a copy of the amicus brief here.

AG Paxton Warns Texans of Scammers in Wake of Hurricane Laura

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton warned Texans of the risk of fraud and common scams in the wake of Hurricane Laura, which is expected to impact communities across the state.

“Unfortunately, scams involving price gouging, repairs and charities are not uncommon following a disaster such as Hurricane Laura,” Attorney General Paxton said. “I strongly encourage hurricane victims in Texas to take the extra time to evaluate sellers and contractors to avoid scams. My office will continue working to protect Texans from deceptive acts and will carefully monitor the situation as Texans rebuild and recover.”

Consider the following tips when in need of businesses or contractors to help in the clean-up and rebuilding process:  

  • Only do business with licensed or bonded contractors or builders. Consult the Better Business Bureau to ensure you are working with a trustworthy business. 
  • Contact an insurance adjuster to get an estimate of the damage and repair cost. 
  • Be wary of contractors who solicit services door-to-door, especially those that are unfamiliar or from out of town. 
  • Know that under Texas law, the door-to-door seller must advise you orally, and in writing that you have a right to cancel the sale within three days. 
  • Secure the terms of any warranty work in writing. 
  • Ask for references or rely on recommendations from friends or relatives who have had experience with honest contractors. 
  • Don’t rush into signing a contract and never pay by wire transfer, gift card, or cash. Don’t make the final payment until the work is done and you are satisfied.
  • Guard your personal information; some scammers claim to be a public official and demand credit card, bank account, or social security numbers.
  • Know that FEMA doesn’t charge fees. If someone wants money to help you qualify for FEMA funds, it is probably a scam.
  • Although Texas’sprice gouging law prohibits vendors from illegally raising prices to reap exorbitant profits during a disaster, it does allow retailers to pass along wholesale price increases to customers. Thus, in some cases, increased prices may not necessarily signal illegal price gouging.

Texans in affected counties who believe they have encountered price gouging should call the Office of the Attorney General’s toll-free complaint line at (800) 621-0508 or file a complaint online at texasattorneygeneral.gov. 

SCAM ALERT: Beware of Entities Posing as State Agencies to Send Purchase Orders

AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a consumer alert warning Texans and Texas companies to exercise caution with any purchase order purporting to come from a state agency when they have not established prior contact with that agency.

Recently, scammers and entities posing as state agencies have sent out purchase orders for goods. The company receiving the fraudulent purchase order then processes the order, ships the goods, and never receives payment from the scammers.

“All Texans should be aware of unsolicited purchase orders and requests from fraudsters impersonating leaders in their government. This is a scam that deceitful individuals are using to enrich themselves at the expense of hardworking citizens,” said Attorney General Paxton. “My office has a long history of pursuing those who attempt to defraud Texans and we stand ready to assist anyone harmed by these schemes.”

Texas state agencies have detailed procurement procedures for purchase orders and contracts. All unsolicited purchase orders supposedly sent from state agencies should be independently verified through direct contact with the agency.

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