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AM Update: UT Kidnapping Scam, Texas West Nile Virus Death, Senate Education Committee Meets

Officer William Pieper courtesy of UTPD Facebook page
UT Police are working with the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force to investigate a kidnapping hoax.

UT Students and Families Victims of Scam

The University of Texas at Austin is warning students and their families about a kidnapping scam.

Relatives of at least four students have received phone calls in the past six weeks claiming their child or grandchild had been kidnapped or is in need of medical care. The caller then asks for money.

UT Police say the perpetrator has an accent and demands that funds be placed into a foreign bank account.  

UT police is investigating the scam along with the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Authorities urge family members not to provide the caller with any personal  information if they receive such a call. They suggest asking to speak to the family member or otherwise challenge the caller to provide proof of what they are saying.

West Nile Virus Kills Dallas Man

A 60-year-old Dallas man is the first West Nile virus fatality this year in Texas, and likely the country. According to state health officials, this season could be a repeat of — or even worse than — 2006, which saw four deaths and a total of 104 cases.

Dallas County Health and Human Services director Zachary Thompson announcedthe first West Nile virus related death in the city on Monday.

“I am very concerned,” Thompson says.

Dallas County Health and Human Services expects confirmation from the Centers for Disease Controlthis week about whether or not this is the first West Nile fatality of the year in the U.S. The organization announced the first 2012 West Nile human infection in Dallas Countyon June 20.

“There have been 16 total human cases reported in the area so far this year—a significant increase from the past two years,” says Christopher Perkins, medical director for Dallas County Health and Human Services.

To prevent contracting the virus, the CDC advises people to use insect repellant, wear long sleeves and long pants if outside at dusk and dawn, and drain all standing water where mosquitoes may breed.

Texas Senate Looks at Public Education Efficiency

The State Senate Committee on Education is meeting today to find ways to make public education in Texas more efficient.

Lawmakers are looking at allowing schools to save money by sharing services. They’re also talking about Regional Education Service Centers and what they provide to school districts.

Last year, the state legislature cut $4.8 billion dollars in school funding.

The public hearing starts at 9 a.m. at the capitol.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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