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Lewes, Delaware
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February 17, 2006     Cape Gazette
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February 17, 2006

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o'1 \\; Public meetings set to discuss referendum The Cape Henlopen School District Board of Education will be holding a series of three public meetings to discuss the Thursday, March 16 vote on the tax-hike ref- erendum. The first meeting will be at 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 27, in the Mariner Middle School cafeteria. The second meeting will be at 7 p.m., Monday, March 6, in the Rehoboth Elementary School auditorium. The third meeting will be at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 8, in the Cape Henlopen High School Little Theatre. Superintendent George Stone said an artist's rendering of the proposed high school should be ready for presentation at the meet- ings. He said they meetings will start wi PowerPoint presenta- tioas, and he hopes to have a thor- ough discussion aboutthe referen: dum. In addition to Stone,. many school board members are expect- ed to attend. There will be two questions on the referendum. The first asks voters if they approve a tax increase of 45 cents per $100 of assessed value to pay for a new high school and improvements to the elementary schools. The sec- ond question asks voters if they support an 11 cents increase to pay for an indoor swimming pool attached to the new high school. "The average taxpayer will see a tax increase of about $108 per year," said Ed Seibert, Cape Henlopen School District busi- ness manager. The average tax increase for the swimming pool would be $26.40 per year. For more information on the public meetings, call 645-6686. DEC not expecting to. see huge increases Bill Andrew, chief executive officer (CEO) at Delaware Electric Cooperative, said on Thursday, Feb, 16, that the coop- erative is not expecting the kind of huge rate increases that have been reported as coming from other electric companies in the months ahead. "Our rates have only gone up 12 percent since 1992. I think that a recent report in the Cape Gazette talking about 40 percent increases had us mixed up with Delmarva Power. CAPE GAZETTE Friday, Feb. 17 - Monday, Feb. 20, 2006 - 3 Lewes mayor names Carmean to BPW Mayor Jim Ford appointed Jay Carmean to a seat on the Lewes Board of Public Works. Carmean fills the slot left vacant by Howard Seymour, who died in December. Carmean will complete two remaining months of Seymour's term. Announcement of Carmean's appointment came at the Lewes Mayor and Council's meeting Monday, Feb. 13. Mayor Jim Ford was out of town and did not attend the meeting. Deputy Mayor Jim Ippolito read Ford's letter appointing Carmean. Commercial design panel gets new member Lewes Mayor Jim Ford named Victor Letenoff to the city's Commercial Architectural Review "Our rates are very stable Commission (CARC). Letenoff's because of our status as a cooper- term on the council will run from ative - not a for-profit company - March 1 through March 2008. andbelle we have ownership in Letenoff replaces Ed Patchell, a nuclear ower plant and a coal who resigned byAetter after 13 b ,uning plait, said AndS_ w, ! yearsOfmgn the commis- at allows ui.stay bow sion. "Tlad tt  wasread at the the volatile market increases that Lewes Mayor and Council's other companies are predicting. We have lowered our cost of delivery by 21 percent and that has helped us offset the 15 percent increase in energy costs. We have long-term contracts for purchase of power - 45 years in one case - and we're going to do everything we can to keep our increases this year to below 10 percent." Andrew said he believes that is a reasonable projection, especially because Delaware Electric Cooperative has already pur- chased 90 percent of its power for 2006. Monday, Feb. 13 meeting. Deputy Mayor Jim Ippolito read Mayor Jim Ford's letter appointing Letenoff because Ford was out of town and did not attend the meeting. Ford and Ippolito thanked Patchell for his years of voluntary service on the commit- tee. Lewes rules on Pilottown Road property request Lewes Mayor and Council voted to allow Phillip Norton, owner of property at 324 Pilottown Road, to mow grass and Laura Ritter photo Java Beach being transformed Construction crews ripped off the roof of Java Beach Coffee House and Caft, 167 Rehoboth Ave. Thursday, Feb. 16. Owner Jeff Hamer plans to transform the property into a new restaurant, Claw Crab Houe. Hamer requested a per- mit of compliance to operate a new restaurant with a patio, where food and alcohol will be served. Rehoboth Beach Commissioners will review the requet at a Tuesday, Feb. 21, meeting at city hall. improve the appearance of a city- controlled parcel on the banks of the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal across the road from his residence. The panel approved the request at its meeting Monday, Feb. 13. The council denied Norton's request to construct anything on the site, which is owned by the Greater Lewes Foundation, devel- oper of the Lewes Canalfront Park. The decision on Norton's original requests, which included removal of city no parking signs, was deferred last month to give the foundation a chance to com- ment. Mike Rawl, foundation spokesman, in a letter to Lewes Mayor and Council, said the land Norton sought to use to tie up a small boat was obtained for public use, and the foundation didn't want to give an impression other- wise. Rawl said the foundation has no objection to Norton's request to mow grass and cut veg- etation on the parcel. The city denied Norton's request to have no-parking signs removed at its January meeting. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is New internet scam uses fake cashier's checks By Rachel Swick Cape Gazette staff Selling items on the interuet, while very convenient, can some- times cost more time and money than it's worth. As internet selling becomes widespread, opportuni- ties to scam both buyers and sell- ers increase also. International buyers whose offers seem too good to be true may offer sellers cashier's checks for more than the published cost of an item. The state Attorney General's Office warns these offers can be seams. Mitch Geasler, 65, of Rehoboth Beach, posted an advertisement for a used car on He received several offers, includ- ing one from a buyer who wished to purchase the car with a cashier's or certified check. However, the buyer said the Check would be for $10,000 more than the purchase price on the car. The additional money would then be sent back to the buyer. Geasler said the website offered warnings about different seams and the very first one on the list was a warning about accepting cashier's checks for fiaore than a purchase price. This made him suspicious of the buyers. In the meantime, Geasler sold the car and emailed the Canadians who offered the extra money, to tell them that he would only accept the exact purchasing amount. He never heard back from them and figured the sale was closed. A few weeks later, he received a cashier's check through FedEx from the Canadian buyers. The check still included the $10,000. Geasler took the check to the bank and asked some questions about it, onlyto find out it was fraudu- lent. The moral of the story is that if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If Geasler had cashed the check it would have taken two to three days to clear from the issuing bank, which was in New York, before the bankers realized the check was a forgery; Geasler would have had to pay for the entire price of the check. "My dad worked as a banker and he always said that certified checks were as good as money," said Geasler. "People my age and older have never heard of a bad certified check." Once he knew about the seam, Geasler was determined to learn more about it. He contacted the police and explained the situation to them. He also gave them the email address he used when con- tacting the potential buyers. The police said they would try to con- tact the buyers and tell them never to contact anyone in Delaware again. Geasler suspects they never received an answer, just like he never heard from them again. "It wasn't a bad website. The site was excellent," said Geasler. "They give you these warnings right up front telling you not to accept a certified check for more money." Wilmington Trust Assistant Vice President of Public Relations Melody Johnson said the bank has not received any complaints about internet fraud. However, she said, some customers have inquired about situations similar to Geasler's. She said customers who are concerned about fraudu- lent checks should contact the bank fraud department or the Federal Trade Commission. Randy DeCampli, Wilmington Trust Fraud Department manager, said consumers should honor the red flags when using the internet to sell items. He said if con- sumers are cautious, they can avoid fraud and the associated costs. "There is no protection from the bank," said DeCampli. "The only protection is for the setl-4 pro- ceed with caution." DeCampli said legislation .to protect consumers from internet fraud would be difficult to enforce because while the sites are rep- utable, the method of payment is not. DeCampli suggested using a PayPal account, because it pro- tects the money and it is used only by reputable people who are familiar with buying and selling online. It's also free. "We've tried to educate our cus- tomers through mailings andone- on-one contact," said DeCampli, "and a teller will be able to pro- vide some guidance for cus- tomers." The Attorney General's Office has released several advisories to Delaware residents who use the internet to buy or sell items. Barbara Gadbois, director of the Attorney .... General's Office Consumer Protection Unit, said the new types of fraud are similar to the Nigerian seams that have plagued the United States for more than 15 years. In the Nigerian version, scammers send emails stating the recipient has won a lottery or sweepstakes, but before receiving the money, the victim has to send a check for transfer expenses. However, the recipient never actually won any- thing. Gadbois said sellers should be wary of anyone offering to pur- chase an item from out of the country. She said many times the addresses are in West Africa or Nigeria. "Consumers can do several things to protect themselves," said Gadbois. First, the consumer can check with the bank where the funds were drawn to make sure the check is legitimate. If consumers deposit the check, they should not withdraw any of the funds until the check clears through both banks. Consumers should never give strangers confidential infor- mation such as bank account numbers or routing numbers. "Be skeptical of generous offers from strangers to give you money" Gadbois. "If it's too gd t be true' it's nt tree"