AROUND MINNESOTA: Probe cracks ID theft ring ... Cold freezes fire hydrants ... Bachmann: Don't raise debt limit
b>Cyber crimes trail leads to students WINONA, Minn. -- A federal investigation has led agents to a pair of 22-year-old foreign-exchange students in Winona who are suspected of being part of an identity theft ring based in Vietnam. A Star Trib...
b>Cyber crimes trail leads to students
WINONA, Minn. -- A federal investigation has led agents to a pair of 22-year-old foreign-exchange students in Winona who are suspected of being part of an identity theft ring based in Vietnam.
A Star Tribune report based on court documents unsealed last week and interviews with investigators said the ring has used the stolen identities of many Americans to fleece retailers out of millions of dollars.
Investigators claim the Winona State University students collected nearly $1.25 million in illicit funds by controlling more than 180 eBay accounts and more than 360 PayPal accounts.
Those accounts were used to order expensive merchandise. When the victims of the identity thefts protested the charges after the goods were shipped, the merchants were left holding the bag.
The students have not been formally charged.
Cold freezes up city fire hydrants
DULUTH -- When firefighters responded to a blaze at a Duluth business last week, they found two of the seven hydrants nearby didn't work.
The Duluth News Tribune reported it's not an isolated problem. One assistant fire chief reported that as many as a fifth of the city's hydrants don't work in the winter because of the cold.
Local firefighters downplay the problem, noting that most fires are extinguished with the water contained in their trucks.
But Kris Kell of Indianapolis, a firefighter who runs a business maintaining hydrants, said 20 percent is too high for safety because it takes too long for fire trucks to drive to the next working hydrant.
The hydrants are designed to work in the cold, but sometimes water gets into them and freezes them up anyway.
Bachmann: Don't raise debt limit
WASHINGTON -- The top White House economic adviser is warning against what he calls "playing chicken" with the need to raise the nation's debt ceiling, but Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is asking people to sign an online petition to urge their representatives not to increase the debt limit.
For some conservatives, refusing to raise the limit on the federal debt would be a tactic to force the government into cutting spending.
Last February, Congress raised the debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion. The debt is now at nearly $13.9 trillion and growing daily. A move to raise the ceiling again is expected this spring.
The chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Austan Goolsbee, said the impact on the economy of refusing to raise the ceiling would be "catastrophic."