News In Brief
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Quick, name a few traditional symbols of Britain. If you chose the sturdy red telephone booth as one of them, you should know that it has arrived at the beginning of the end. After 117 years of service, British Telecom will put up no more. Reason: a 37 percent drop in revenues since 1999, mostly because of competition from cellphones. Not even offering users such innovations as credit-card calls and Internet access has helped. There are 141,000 booths in BT's inventory, and plans call for them to be maintained - but that's all.
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Can you locate the Republic of Lomar on a map of the world? No, and neither can anyone else, because it exists only in the imagination of swindlers in Nigeria - and their victims - somewhere along the US-Canadian border. More than 70,000 people, news reports say, have been duped into paying up to $12 each to apply for "visas" that would put them on the doorstep of the lucrative American job market.
Identity theft is No. 1 fraud crime, says US government
Last December alone, calls to the Federal Trade Commission about "identity theft" - involving Social Security numbers or credit-card accounts - were pouring in at about 1,700 per week. That's up from about 400 a week last March. Although victims usually aren't held liable for losses, the surge has meant that identity theft is both the fastest-growing fraud crime in the US and the No. 1 such complaint, according to the FTC's Consumer Sentinel website. The percentages of the 80,000 complaints that were filed with the agency last year on top fraud problems:
1. Identity theft 23%
2. Internet services and computer complaints 11
3. Prizes/sweepstakes and lotteries 9
4. Internet auctions 8
5. Advance-fee loans and credit protection/repair offers 7
6. Magazine subscription offers and buyers clubs 6
(tie) Telephone: pay-per-call/ information services 6
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society