Greensboro police warn of new ATM skimmer threat

Greensboro police warn of new ATM skimmer threat

GREENSBORO — The Greensboro Police Department is warning the public to be on the lookout for ATM skimmers.

On Thursday, officers were contacted about an ATM skimmer located in the area of Randleman Road, the police department said in a news release. The skimmer, which is designed to steal account information from debit cards that have been encoded with a chip, was placed inside a card reader.

Account information retrieved by the skimmer is then downloaded to a computer and can be recoded into “cloned” or counterfeit debit cards and used by the perpetrators. The account data can also be used directly for online purchases or sold to data collectors overseas.

As with any fraud associated with debit or credit cards, police recommend that people check their bank accounts daily through smartphone apps or by computer. Any transactions that do not look legitimate should immediately be flagged and the customer’s financial institution contacted. Even smaller transactions, police warn, can be a way for criminals to determine if the counterfeit card is usable.

Police say to contact law enforcement and the bank immediately if any of the following indications of potential card tampering are observed:

  • Scratches or adhesive residue around the card reader entry point.
  • Any abnormal or askew metal or plastic around the entry point.
  • Lighting on or around the ATM that appears to be strobing or flickering, indicating a possible mini-camera placement to observe PIN entry.
  • Anyone who appears to be lingering in the area.

Once any activity has been confirmed to be unauthorized or fraudulent, have the card immediately deactivated and a new card issued.

Anyone with information on someone using skimming technology is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers at 336-373-1000.

Greensboro police warn of new ATM skimmer threat

Bennett College gets a $1 million lifeline from High Point University

HIGH POINT — It looks like Bennett College will reach its $5 million goal.

High Point University announced Friday it is standing with Bennett with a gift of $1 million. This is the biggest donation Bennett has received since it began its aggressive fundraising effort two months ago in an effort to hold onto its accreditation.

The HPU gift raises Bennett’s fundraising total to $4.8 million. Bennett officials said this amount doesn’t include a flood of contributions received late this week as well as other significant gifts that the college hasn’t yet made public.

Bennett President Phyllis Worthy Dawkins said after Friday’s announcement that she’s sure the college will hit its fundraising target.

Bennett leaders had said previously that Friday was its fundraising deadline. But the college said it will extend the deadline through the weekend as it counts and audits its contributions. The college said it plans to announce its total at noon Monday.

HPU President Nido Qubein announced this million-dollar donation late Friday at a ceremony that was part news conference, part church service and part pep rally. Qubein said that the university’s faculty and Board of Trustees approved the gift in large part because the schools have much in common: They’re both private, they’re both in Guilford County and they’re both affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

“Bennett will cross this chasm successfully,” Qubein said. “We as a neighbor school cannot stand by and let Bennett just somehow go down a valley that’s less than extraordinary.”

When Qubein announced the amount — Bennett students had gotten word earlier that afternoon that a major gift was imminent — the crowd inside the Hayworth Memorial Chapel erupted in cheers.

Dawkins raised her fist in the air. The Bennett students on one half of the chapel stood and screamed, waved their hands and stomped their feet. The rest of the room — Bennett employees, trustees and alumnae, HPU faculty and staff, elected officials and other supporters of the two colleges — stood and applauded for nearly a full minute.

“All I can say is wow, wow, …” said Dawkins, who had on the same blue “Stand With Bennett” T-shirt that her students and many other supporters have worn since mid-December. “I am overwhelmed by the support.”

Dawkins said she met Qubein shortly after she became Bennett’s interim president in 2016. The two have kept in touch, and Qubein, she said, was one of the first college leaders to call her Dec. 11 after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges decided to revoke Bennett’s accreditation. Commission officials said Bennett fell short of its standards for having sufficient financial resources.

Colleges must be accredited to accept federal Pell Grants and student loans as payment for tuition, fees and other expenses. Non-accredited colleges often close. Bennett has appealed the commission’s ruling and remains accredited for now.

Bennett had been on probation for the two prior years — the most allowed under the commission’s rules — after sharp declines in enrollment led to budget deficits. In 2017-18, Dawkins’ first full year as permanent president, enrollment rose and the college posted its first annual surplus in six years. Bennett expects to have another budget surplus this year.

The college has about 410 students enrolled in the spring semester — down about 60 students from the fall. (Colleges typically lose students from one semester to the next.) But Bennett officials have said it has received about 4,000 applications for a spot in next fall’s freshwoman class. That’s almost double what the college got a year ago.

A couple of weeks ago, Dawkins asked Qubein and N.C. A&T Chancellor Harold Martin to pull together a meeting of area college presidents to talk about Bennett’s plight. Qubein said he came away from that lunch meeting at Bennett with admiration for the grit and determination of the college’s president, the professional achievements of its graduates and the college’s history and unusual spot in the higher education landscape. Bennett — founded in 1873 to train former enslaved persons to become teachers — is now just one of two historically black women’s colleges in the nation.

Qubein said he and other college leaders also were impressed by the fundraising campaign. The campaign started with Bennett students posting the hashtag #StandWithBennett on Twitter and Instagram and the college selling “Stand with Bennett” T-shirts and asking for help. This grass-roots effort attracted media attention, a few celebrity endorsements — and then thousands of donations from alumnae, friends, churches, sororities and numerous other groups from across North Carolina and the nation.

After ‘Empire’ actor’s alleged assault, his upset fans are coming to the aid of Bennett College

After ‘Empire’ actor’s alleged assault, his upset fans are coming to the aid of Bennett College

By Jane Stancill The News & Observer of Raleigh – Jan 31, 2019

The campaign to save North Carolina’s Bennett College has drawn some high-profile supporters, including Jussie Smollett, the “Empire” actor who this week reported he was attacked in Chicago by two masked men who uttered racial and homophobic slurs.

Now supporters of Smollett are giving to Bennett in his honor, according to social media posts under the school’s campaign slogan, #StandWithBennett.

One Twitter user identified only as @RamblinRobin tweeted a receipt of a gift to Bennett, adding, “Because of the evil wrought upon you last night, I came to your Twitter, saw your re-tweet of @donnabrazile, researched @BennettCollege, and just finished my donation. Good acts will beat evil ones.”

The historically black college in Greensboro — one of only two all-women HBCUs in the nation — has until Friday to raise $5 million in an effort to try to hold onto its accreditation. In December, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges notified Bennett that it was revoking its accreditation because of a lack of financial resources. The college had been on probation for the previous two years, and a loss of accreditation could lead to Bennett’s closure.

In recent weeks, Jussie Smollett, his brother Jake Smollett and sister Jazz Smollett joined in the campaign to help raise awareness of the school’s plight. They wore navy blue “Stand with Bennett” T-shirts in photos posted to Twitter. Jussie and Jazz Smollett appeared with Bennett College President Phyllis Dawkins in an interview with the Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC earlier this week.

“We can raise this amount. I’m fired up, ready to go,” Smollett said on MSNBC, adding, “I think that we have a very real opportunity right now to continue to uplift the education of women, and black women specifically.”

The program was broadcast two days before a bizarre alleged assault on the TV star and singer, in which Smollett said assailants hit him, poured a chemical substance on him and put a rope around his neck. Chicago police said they were investigating it as a possible hate crime.

Smollett, who is black and openly gay, plays a gay character on the popular Fox drama about an African-American family in the recording industry.

On Wednesday night, a Chicago police spokesman tweeted a new development in the case, saying detectives located a surveillance camera “that shows potential persons of interest wanted for questioning” in the assault.

The incident prompted outrage and support for Smollett across social media, and in turn, some of his fans are showing their affection for him by donating to Bennett.

One Bennett alumna, identified as Azuree Bateman, tweeted: “You #StandwithBennett and now we stand with you! My heart literally hurts right now. Nobody deserves this. Prayers up for a peace of mind and the strength to continue on in this crazy world.”

In an interview Wednesday, Dawkins said the college had reached out to Smollett’s family to offer well wishes for a quick recovery.

The college had raised $3.2 million as of Wednesday, including $500,000 from Papa John’s Foundation and $500,000 from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Dawkins said.

Individual churches were dropping off checks of as much as $50,000, and Alpha Kappa Alpha, an African American sorority, sent $100,000. Wells Fargo Bank donated $50,000. Other historically black colleges had challenged students to give $1 apiece, and Guilford County schools’ teachers collected more than $8,000.

The college’s staff will be working through the weekend to tally contributions and prepare an appeal to the accrediting body that will be sent in the next few days, Dawkins said.

“We do want to be able to count every dollar that comes in,” she said.

Bennett has seen a 16 percent enrollment growth this year, and actually had a budget surplus last year, Dawkins said. But the college has struggled financially for years.

The college should know in February whether its appeal is successful. If not, Bennett could file a lawsuit and seek accreditation through another organization for Christian schools. Then, Dawkins said, the college will “re-engineer” itself to survive in the future.

Meanwhile, recruiting for next year’s class continues. Dawkins said 4,000 students had applied for admission and 2,000 have been accepted.

“At Bennett College, we just provide a good experience for our students,” Dawkins said.