WHAT: More than 2 million taxpayers wrongly collected $3.2 billion in college tax credits last year, the Treasury Department inspector general reported. This was more than one-fifth of the $15.5 billion in college credits issued to nearly 8.9 million taxpayers through 2010.
HOW: The IRS credited $2.6 billion to 1.7 million taxpayers for students without documents proving they attended school. Another $550 million went to 371,000 taxpayers for students ineligible because they didn’t go to classes long enough. Read More
WHAT: Citigroup has agreed to pay $285 million to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges that it misled buyers of complex mortgage derivatives just as the housing market started to collapse.HOW: The big Wall Street bank allegedly made $160 million by betting for the failure of its own subprime mortgage bond packages in 2007. Meanwhile, Citi’s derivatives investors lost millions. Read More
WHAT: Kudzu vines spread beyond control after being introduced here from Japan in the late 19th century. But the kudzu bug arrived by accident around 2009 and multiplied into even more of a threat, because it eats soybeans as voraciously as it does kudzu.WHERE: Crop losses as high as 23 percent of soybean fields were recorded in Georgia. The bugs are rampant in North and South Carolina and now Alabama. They could reach Illinois and Iowa, where hundreds of millions of soybean bushels are grown. Read More
WHAT: Brazen copper thieves, aging equipment and insufficient replacement budgets have allowed as much as 20 percent of the Motor City’s 88,000 streetlights to go dark. Many lights are looted again as soon as they’re replaced.HOW: Witnesses report seeing official-looking white utility trucks pull up to wooden streetlights and use a bucket-arm for cutting and stealing wires to newly reinstalled transformers. Read More
WHO: Three people have been charged following the discovery of four malnourished mentally disabled adults chained to a boiler in a locked northeast Philadelphia basement room that was too small for an adult to stand up straight and also reeked of waste from the buckets they used to relieve themselves, police said Sunday.
HOW: Officers were investigating a report of squatters in a building Saturday when they found three men and a woman in a 15-by-15-foot room behind a steel door that was chained shut. Read More
WHAT: New York businessman Nicholas Cosmo, 40 — dubbed the “mini-Madoff” because he was arrested shortly after the billion-dollar swindler — was sentenced to 25 years in prison and ordered to pay $179 million in restitution, which he doesn’t have.
HOW: Cosmo promised some 4,000 investors 80 percent returns from a fund that made short loans to companies needing temporary financing. Instead he used the money for personal purchases and failed commodities futures trading. Read More
WHAT: The Chinese military has set up thousands of hacker units inside technology companies and universities. These reservist units spearhead the country’s Internet warfare operations, increasingly recognized as a serious international threat.
HOW: The People’s Liberation Army is reaching out across the Chinese civilian sector to recruit the computer specialists needed for its fast-growing information warfare operations, according to a report by Northrop Grumman, the U.S. defense contractor. Read More
WHAT: Two Ukrainian brothers were found guilty of smuggling desperate young villagers to the U.S. to work in debt bondage cleaning suburban big-box retail stores for 16 hours a day at little pay.HOW: Federal prosecutors charged that Omelyan and Stepan Botsvynyuk beat and threatened approximately 30 victims to keep them under control. At least one female immigrant was raped. Read More
WHAT: After a yearlong investigation that called 20 witnesses to corroborate bribery charges against former provincial governor Ghulam Qawis Abu Bakr, the case was closed and the top prosecutor was demoted and transferred.HOW: The U.S. hoped Abu Bakr would be the first convicted Afghan big shot. Most of the approximately 2,000 bribery cases investigated have stalled, except for 28 convictions of minor criminals. Read More
WHAT: In the years after 9/11, authorities were so focused on stopping additional terrorist attacks that they ignored a pest invasion that threatened the nation’s food supply quality, an AP investigation discovered.
HOW: Hundreds of agricultural agents who stopped invasive species at the borders were reassigned to anti-terrorism duties in the new Homeland Security Department — costing billions of dollars in crop damage and eradication expenses.
WHY IT’S OUTRAGEOUS: Every American consumer has been affected by higher grocery Read More