A familiar problem in many communities also is happening in Indiana Borough — unemployment fraud.
Indiana Borough Police Sgt. Eric Slovinsky, sitting in for Chief Justin Schawl, told Indiana Borough Council Tuesday night there have been multiple reports of fraudulent jobless benefit filings in the past two weeks.
“Close to 25 to 30,” Slovinsky said after the meeting. “It seems like this breach just happened recently.”
He said a breach in someone’s security triggered multiple filings in the Indiana-Armstrong county region.
Those filings continue. State police in Kittanning and the Kiski Valley have new reports of individuals who used another person’s identity to file for unemployment benefits.
Recent reports include Loyalhanna and Derry townships in Westmoreland County, and multiple communities in and around Kittanning in Armstrong County.
“Check your emails and correspondence,” the sergeant urged.
State police also have suggested that those victimized by such fraud contact https://www.uc.pa.gov/Pages/Report-Fraud-Here.aspx or call the PA Fraud Hotline at 1 (800) 692-7469.
Councilwoman Betsy Sarneso wondered how businesses would know.
“They will get some sort of notification from the unemployment office,” Slovinsky said.
Manager C. Michael Foote said borough Secretary Nicole Busovicki is notifying employees who may have been impacted.
Unemployment fraud isn’t the only problem crossing desks at the Indiana Borough Police Department.
Slovinsky said state police are working with the borough on what he described as prank calls.
As the department reported last week, it has been notified about a man making phone calls representing himself as “Sergeant Snyder” of the IBPD.
The department said “Snyder” has cited publicly available contact information for the Indiana police to make himself more credible to at least one person he has contacted.
However, IBPD said last week, there is no “Sergeant Snyder” employed with the Indiana department.
The department reminded residents that Indiana Borough patrol officers are dressed in full police uniform and operate clearly marked police vehicles.
And it said residents may contact the Indiana County 911 center 24/7 at (724) 349-1428 to verify the on-duty status of any Indiana Borough Police officer contacting them by phone.
Foote also reported Tuesday that the borough is receiving $39,721 from the state in a recycling grant that can go toward the $44,135 price of a leaf vacuuming machine.
He also told council that the borough is close to a contract with Waste Management.
Council Public Safety Committee Chairman Donald Lancaster had the busiest schedule on Tuesday’s agenda.
He said there had been two bids received for body cameras for the police department — one for $89,000, the other from a company called Pro Vision for $12,860.
Lancaster said Pro Vision cameras now are used locally by police departments in Homer City, Clymer and Northern Cambria.
He also said only one name remained on the borough’s entry level eligibility list for police officers.
Concern remains in the wake of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s removal of that traffic signal at Philadelphia and 11th streets, despite council’s opposition.
Councilwoman Poom Sunhachawi-Taylor said a car and motorcycle collided there during the day Tuesday.
She suggested that the police department keep record of accidents there.
Turning to the agenda items from his committee, one item was the disposal of police Cruiser 760-08, to be disposed “as is” via a sealed-bid auction — with the successful bidder being required to remove the vehicle from borough premises.
As Foote put it, “it does not run.”
Meanwhile, a half-dozen upcoming events were cleared through the Public Safety Committee.
First, there’s Indiana Arts Council’s Movies in the Park, beginning at 7 p.m. tonight in IRMC Park. The motion conceded the possibility of rescheduling if weather doesn’t permit the showing.
Then there’s Indiana Borough Police Department’s hosting of the local National Night Out event, on Aug. 3 from 5 to 7 p.m. in IRMC Park.
An event where school supplies are given out to youngsters gets the green light for Aug. 21, when a Back to School Bash happens from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 600 Church St.
And on Aug. 31, there’s United at IUP from 2 to 10 p.m. Aug. 31 along North Carpenter Avenue, which kicks off a series of events scheduled for Tuesday nights by Revelry Church at the Indiana Theater for those ages 18 to 30.
Then comes the Northern Appalachian Folk Festival. Council approved the festival, as well as an open container waiver, from 10 a.m. on Sept. 10 through 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 11 in the 500 block of Philadelphia Street.
Last on the list of events motioned by the Public Safety Committee and getting unanimous council approval is the Love of Life 5K Race on Oct. 16 from 7 to 11 a.m., with South Eighth Street to be used as a staging area.
Also for October, Council President Dr. Peter Broad said, plans are coming along nicely for an Oktoberfest in downtown Indiana.