Dec 8, 2015

Black Hills Energy warns Cody customers of phone scam

Local Black Hills Energy customers are being warned to be on the lookout for a phone scam.

Some customers are reportedly getting phone calls in which someone fraudulently claims to be with Black Hill Energy and threatens to shut off the customer's gas service unless they immediately pay money.

In a Tuesday news release, Black Hills Energy asked any customers who suspect fraud to contact the Cody Police Department, which is aware of the scheme. Black Hills also asked their customers to contact the company at 888-890-5554 if they have concerns or questions about any of the company's employees.

"We can confirm the legitimacy of the claim and can also confirm bill payments, service work or a service call to any address," Black Hills Energy said in Tuesday's release. "That holds true for any utility. You can find the number to call on your monthly bill or the utility’s website."

The release noted that scammers can manipulate caller ID displays to make it look like their call is coming from a legitimate company.

"These scams often start with different stories and can involve any type of business," Black Hills Energy warned.

To avoid falling victim to fraud, Black Hills Energy suggested following these precautions:

  •  Do not provide your Social Security number, credit card numbers or bank account information to anyone who requests that information during an unsolicited phone call or an unannounced visit.
  • If someone calls claiming they represent your local utility provider and they demand immediate payment or personal information, hang up and call the customer service number on your utility bill. Do not give in to a high-pressure call seeking personal information.
  • Never allow anyone into your home for an unannounced visit to check your electrical wiring, cable or phone lines, natural gas pipes or your appliances unless you have scheduled an appointment or are aware of a confirmed problem.
  • Any time a utility employee arrives at your door, require the employee to produce proper identification, and do not hesitate to confirm the visit with the utility company via a phone call before permitting any access to your property.

Dec 7, 2015

Deep ruts lead to early closure of Elk Fork Road

The Elk Fork Road has closed about a month early.

The road, along the North Fork of the Shoshone River, usually shuts down for the season on Jan. 1. However, Shoshone National Forest officials decided to close it this week because of damage.

The Elk Fork Road passes through this area. Photo courtesy Shoshone National Forest
Shoshone officials said Monday that warm temperatures this fall helped create a series of deep ruts along what’s formally known as Forest Service Road 424. They said the ruts posed problems for both the forest’s resources and travelers.

The Elk Fork Road heads a couple miles south of U.S. Highway 14-16-20, first passing through the Elk Fork Campground. It's about 30 miles west of Cody.

Permanently closing the majority of the road is one of the ideas that's been suggested by the public as Shoshone managers revise their list of motorized trails. Forest officials have not yet taken a position on that proposal or the many others that have been put forward.

The next local meeting on the trail revision process, known as Travel Management, is set for Dec. 17 at the Cody library.

Man jailed for stealing 3,840 rounds of ammo from Wal-Mart

Shoplifting nearly $2,000 worth of ammunition from Wal-Mart in 2013 has landed a Cody man in jail.

Brandon A. Bash, 32, is currently serving a 90-day sentence for a misdemeanor count of disposing of stolen property. After that, he'll serve five years of supervised probation for felony shoplifting.

Brandon Bash
As a part of a deferred prosecution agreement offered to the first-time offender, the shoplifting charge will be dismissed if Bash successfully completes the probation.

Charging documents say Bash stole four boxes of ammunition during three trips to the store on Dec. 19 and 20, 2013. Bash was working for Coca-Cola at the time, which meant he was often in Wal-Mart to stock Coca-Cola products.

An affidavit from Cody Police Detective Ron Parduba that was filed in support of the charges says Bash apparently pretended he had a receipt for the ammunition on at least one of the trips out of the store.

Bash stole two boxes that each contained 1,200 rounds of 9mm ammo and two boxes that each held 720 rounds of 5.56x45mm ammo. The four boxes had a total value of $1,944.

Bash was caught when he tried trading the stolen ammunition for guns.

At Wyoming Tactical Supply, the store's owner agreed to give Bash an AR-15 rifle and $215 in cash for three boxes of ammo on Dec. 19, Parduba wrote.

However, the Cody store owner became suspicious the following day, when Bash traded some more ammo — labeled with a Wal-Mart sticker — for a .22 caliber rifle, Parduba wrote. The tactical supply owner contacted Wal-Mart, learned the ammo had been stolen, and called Cody police.

Bash was sentenced by District Court Judge Steven Cranfill on Oct. 21. He began serving his jail sentence on Nov. 23.

In addition to repaying Wal-Mart for the ammo, Bash must also pay $293.98 to Wyoming Tactical Supply and $415 in court fines and fees.

Bash must obey the law, keep a full-time job and is subject to random searches while on probation. Whether he can possess firearms during that time will be up to his probation agent.

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