Jun 14, 2020

Axios AM

🇺🇸 Good Sunday morning. It's Flag Day. President Trump turns 74 today.

  • Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,183 words, 4½ minutes.
1 big thing: Coronavirus fraud is everywhere

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Criminals are getting busy — and creative — with an onslaught of new frauds preying on people's fears and anxieties about the coronavirus pandemic, managing editor Jennifer Kingson writes.

  • Desperate people are finding their unemployment checks and stimulus payments stolen. They're also being bombarded with offers for fake cures, fake work-at-home offers and messages asking for personal financial information.
  • TransUnion, the credit bureau, runs a weekly survey that shows that 29% of consumers say they've been targets of digital fraud related to COVID-19.

In perhaps the most widespread scam, criminals are filing fake unemployment claims on behalf of real people who haven't lost their jobs, hitting one state after another.

  • A Nigerian crime ring called "Scattered Canary" may be responsible for a lot of this fraud, which is made more attractive by the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits that Congress enacted.

The FTC says consumers have reported about $50 million in losses to the agency.

  • "Some of the really pernicious stuff that we were seeing were about people ordering PPE-type materials — face masks, hand sanitizer — and then it never arrives," the FTC's Monica Vaca tells Axios.

Official-looking notices claiming to be from the government might say you've been overpaid in stimulus or unemployment benefits and need to return the money immediately.

  • "They’ll say you have to do it right now or you’ll be arrested — and, oh, by the way, put it on an Apple gift card," Paul Stephens of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse tells Axios.

Fraudsters dangle lures like "check your $1,200 stimulus pay status."

  • Then there are W-2 scams, in which a hacker spoofs the email address of a CEO and asks the H.R. department for a list of employees' tax information.

Who's scammin' whom: While the elderly are frequent victims, they're joined by young people (online, idle and jittery) — including college students, nervous about their academic future and tuition status.

  • "They pretend that they’re from the school's financial department and they’re giving you choices," Paige Hanson, chief of cyber safety education at NortonLifeLock, tells Axios.

Common-sense advice to protect yourself:

  • Be suspicious of any unsolicited call or text.
  • Talk to someone before taking action.

Share this story.

2. Atlanta officer fired, chief resigns, Wendy's torched after fatal shooting
Flames engulf Wendy's. Photo: Brynn Anderson/AP

A white Atlanta police officer was fired after fatally shooting Rayshard Brooks, 27, an African American father, following a seconds-long chase in a Wendy’s parking late Friday night, prompting the police chief's quick resignation.

  • The context, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The shooting further inflamed tensions over police use of force and racial injustice."
  • The death was the 48th officer-involved shooting the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been asked to investigate this year, per the AJC.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called for the officer's immediate firing: "I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force."

  • 19 hours after the shooting, Police Chief Erika Shields resigned.
  • The firing was announced early today.

The Wendy's turned into an inferno last night, live on cable news.

  • The restaurant, surrounded by an estimated 1,000 protesters, caught fire after protesters broke windows and threw fireworks inside, the AJC reports.
  • As CNN showed chopper views from local stations, Wolf Blitzer pointed out that no firefighters were in sight. Roads were closed because of demonstrations, and fire officials said the crowd posed a danger.
Bodycam video shows Rayshard Brooks speaking with Officer Garrett Rolfe, who was fired after the shooting, in the Wendy's parking lot late Friday. Photo: Atlanta P.D. via AP

What happened ... Police went to Wendy’s at about 10:30 p.m. Friday, after a complaint about a man sleeping in a car blocking the drive-thru, the AJC reports:

  • Police said Rayshard Brooks failed a field sobriety test. A struggle broke out as officers tried to arrest him.
  • Police tried to tase the man, who grabbed the stun gun and ran. Officers chased him.
  • On surveillance video posted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the man turns back to the officer, and may have fired the taser.

L. Chris Stewart, attorney for the family of Rayshard Brooks, told CNN:

  • "Why not talk to him as a human being and say: 'Hey, buddy, maybe you had too much to drink. Leave your car here. Take Uber'? Instead, they got physical."

What they're saying ... Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union": "You've got to restructure our judicial system. Restructure our health care system. Restructure our educational system."

  • Stacey Abrams told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week": "A man was murdered because he was asleep in a drive-thru."

YouTube of the surveillance video. (Chase begins 28:32.)

How it's playing:

3. Lafayette Park becomes soapbox for social unrest
Sister Mamie reposts signs that were removed from the Lafayette Park perimeter fence. Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Almost as soon as the towering black fencing was erected last week to seal off Lafayette Park, the barrier became an art gallery and a sounding board, AP's Ashraf Khalil and Nathan Ellgren report.

  • Now, with much of the temporary fencing around the White House coming down, there's an effort to preserve hundreds of pieces of instant American history.
  • Both the D.C. government and several Smithsonian museums have expressed an interest. For now, volunteers on the scene are working to gather up the items and keep them safe.
Photo: Alex Brandon/AP

Lafayette Park reopened to the public Thursday. National Park Service crews power-washed graffiti off buildings and statues, and used blow torches and paint to touch up bronze busts, AP's Deb Riechmann reports.

  • Lakeisha Dames of Maryland brought her 7-year-old daughter to see the posters and artwork on fences that turned the White House into a fortress.
4. Pics du jour: Jefferson Davis evicted from Kentucky capitol
Photo: Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP

Workers remove the statue of Jefferson Davis, the former Confederate president, from the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort yesterday.

  • In the brick and marble base, workers found "an empty bottle of Glenmore bourbon and the Oct. 20, 1936 front page of the State Journal newspaper, as though someone thought it might be taken down some day." Lexington Herald-Leader
Photo: Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP
5. Data du jour
Screenshot from MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show"

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in more than 2,000 U.S. cities and towns in the two weeks from May 26 to June 9, the N.Y. Times found in a protest-by-protest count (subscription).

  • One of the Times' sources counted 3,249 cities and town.

See a state-by-state list by the Times (subscription)

6. 🇦🇪 Arab ambassador writes in Hebrew 🇮🇱

Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE's ambassador to D.C., directly addressed the Israeli public for the first time with an op-ed, in Hebrew, that's getting lots of attention:

  • "Annexation will be a serious setback for better relations with the Arab world ... A unilateral and illegal seizure of Palestinian land defies the international consensus on the Palestinian right to self-determination."

Read in English ... Hebrew.

  • Video of Ambassador Al Otaiba.
7. Cover du jour
"Say Their Names," by Kadir Nelson for The New Yorker

The cover of next week’s issue of The New Yorker — "Say Their Names," by Kadir Nelson — reflects on the murder of George Floyd and the history of violence against black people in America.

  • An annotated version zeroes in on these lives, including Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Rodney King, Martin Luther King Jr., Trayvon Martin, David McAtee, Rosa Parks, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, Emmett Till, and the unnamed millions of black people enslaved in America.
8. 1 smile to go: 2 graduations
Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

In North Conway, N.H., a graduate rides a ski lift with his family to the Kennett High School graduation at Cranmore Mountain Resort.

Photo: John Minchillo/AP/Pool via Getty Images

With a helicopter formation overhead, West Point's graduating cadets celebrate at The Plain parade field at the United States Military Academy, after President Trump addressed the socially-distanced ceremony.

📬 Thanks for reading Axios AM. Please invite your friends to sign up here.