Piñon Post

New Mexicans robbed blind of millions in online dating scams

A recent analysis of FBI data shows that New Mexicans got swindled big time in 2022 from online dating scams, with stats showing the state saw a massive increase from the 2021 numbers.

The online investigative service Social Catfish, which compiled the figures, reported that nationwide, Americans were swindled out of $1.3 billion due to online dating scams, a 138 percent jump.

The report notes that it is “by far the largest this country has ever seen. Despite increased government warnings, pop culture shows like The Tinder Swindler — which aired last year on Netflix — and increased public awareness, romance scams continue to leave an unprecedented number of Americans broke and heartbroken.” 

New Mexico ranked 25th-highest for money lost from romance scams last year, totaling $7.2 million with 128 victims, a big jump from the state formerly being ranked 42nd in 2021. 

Residents of the Land of Enchantment were ranked third for the most money lost per victim, totaling an average of $57,001.00 each. 

It also had the second-highest jump year over year at 268.7 percent, only being beaten by the state of Arkansas, which saw a mind-boggling 398.1 increase. 

“One way to recognize that you are dealing with a romance scammer is not only if they ask you for money, but what form of payment they request.  Nearly 35% of all money lost to romance scams in 2022 were sent in using cryptocurrency. However, the most common form of payment requested by scammers is gift cards.”

According to the report, the number of reported losses was 34 percent from cryptocurrencies, 27 percent from bank wire transfers, seven percent from gift cards, three percent from payment apps, and 28 percent from all other forms of currency transfers. 

A Social Catfish poll showed 75 percent of victims are college educated, 84 percent are middle-class or low-income, 10 percent of victims losing more than $100,000, and four percent losing more than $200,000.

Read more about the Social Catfish report and how you can avoid scams here

Lt. Gov. Morales connected to Oregon Sec. of State who ‘broke public trust’

Oregon Public Broadcasting recently reported that Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan was quitting her lucrative second job as a “consultant” for Veriede Holding, LLC, an affiliate of a marijuana dispensary called La Mota, after it was found she “broke public trust by agreeing to work for a cannabis industry player — and political donor — that stood to gain from an audit the Secretary of State’s Office was carrying out.”

“Clearly, this contract raises questions,” she said. “Upon painful reflection, taking that contract was poor judgment, and for that, I am sorry.”

She offered details of how she obtained the contract from Rosa Cazares and Aaron Mitchell, who gave her the consulting gig after she told them she was going to take a job teaching at Willamette University to supplement her $77,000 secretary of state salary.

“I’m starting over financially after a divorce. I have two young kids. I have student loans and other bills. I’m a renter in the expensive Portland metro area, and I’m the sole income earner in my household,” she said.

“Rosa mentioned that her company was looking to expand outside of Oregon and looking for contractors to do research on the industry and U.S. states and territories,” wrote Fagan, adding, “This opportunity interested me because it was something I was highly qualified to do.”

According to the report, “For that work, the secretary was paid $10,000 a month beginning on Feb. 20. She was eligible to receive a $30,000 bonus if La Mota secured licenses in any state besides Oregon and New Mexico.” 

“It was not immediately clear on Monday why New Mexico was singled out in the contract, but it may be because the company was already making inroads there. La Mota CEO Rosa Cazares met with New Mexico’s Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales several times. ‘They were here asking questions about doing business in New Mexico, asking about the cannabis industry, the recent changes to our laws,’ said Jim Farrell, a spokesman for the lieutenant governor. Farrell said Cazares did not ask for specific help, but she did contribute to Morales’ campaign fund,” the report noted. 

In the summer of 2022, La Mota purchased a small bakery in Deming to convert to a dispensary, as well as two other properties in the state. However, Deming rejected the proposal due to its close vicinity to a nearby daycare.

Fagan claimed to have spent 15 hours per week working on the New Mexico contract, describing it as tedious research. 

“Fagan was twice asked whether she would release her tax returns to shed further light on her financial situation. She said she would not release those tax documents. Monday’s press conference concluded as a journalist asked the question again,” the report concluded

NM county clerk seeks technician to handle Dominion voting machines

A new job posted last week on GovernmentJobs.com from Democrat Sandoval County Clerk Anne Brady-Romero’s office seeks a voting machine technician who will be trained in “certifying, calibrating, and maintaining the County voting machines (ICE) and (ICC) scanners.”

The job, which is salaried at $32,136 annually, lists the requirement of a GED and “six months of office clerical and data processing experience that includes experience with data entry and retrieval and working with and troubleshooting automated program equipment.”

It further notes, “State of New Mexico Certification of Dominion Image Cast Evolution (ICE) & Image Cast Central (ICC) Voter Assist Terminal required within a specified period of time following hire.”

“Programs, certifies, seals and maintains the County Image Cast Evolution (ICE) tabulator voting machines including running pre-printed Test Decks to verify scanners read ballots correctly in all four orientations; calibrates the machines for time, date, and battery status year round; performs preventative maintenance on voting machines including verification of door, key, panel, and wheel operations; provides voter assistance including inserting blank test decks; manually selecting voting positions to verify selections were marked correctly in all four orientations; maintaining ink cartridges; and using required clean sheet for upper and lower scanners,” are among the other duties required.

Qualified applicants will assist the Bureau of Elections staff “with answering phones, printing ballots, stuffing ballots in packets for mailing; printing labels, entering voter registrations in the Secretary of State voter registration system; auditing and filing of current, changed, [canceled], or deceased ID verifications; daily balancing during early voting; assists with qualifying and disqualifying Provisional  and Replacement Absentee Ballots; canvasses election results for certification of election; helps scan returned ballots; assist in recount and recheck; runner for absentee ballots; and assist in election school and training election poll officials on ICE.”    

The person will assist “in site visits to ensure internet connection; ADA compliance; parking and capacity of poll location” while verifying “all voting materials associated with elections including absentee, early voting, and Election Day; assembles packets associated with absentee voting; stuffs ballot boxes with State required materials for early and Election Day operations.” There are other duties listed in the description.

According to the job posting, it doesn’t appear that any security checks are mandatory for the position. The post indicates that the deadline for applicants to apply is May 10, 2023.

The job application website for the position is linked here. An archived version of the website, if it is removed, is linked here.

According to a previous listing of Sandoval County salaries for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, a person employed at the County under the job title “certified voting machine technician” received a salary of $37,706.66. That person was first hired by the County on July 10, 2006, as reported by Sandoval County.

Despite claims by people such as Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver insisting voting machines do not connect to the internet, NBC News reported in 2020, “The three largest voting manufacturing companies — Election Systems &Software, Dominion Voting Systems and Hart InterCivic — have acknowledged they all put modems in some of their tabulators and scanners. The reason? So that unofficial election results can more quickly be relayed to the public. Those modems connect to cell phone networks, which, in turn, are connected to the internet.” 

However, Toulouse Oliver insists, “Our air-gapped counting systems ensure that vote tabulators are never connected to the Internet.” 

Dem legislator threatened Edgewood funding over pro-life ordinance

On Wednesday morning, the Town of Edgewood passed an ordinance to ensure compliance with the federal Comstock Act, which prohibits the illicit transport of “abortion pills” or “abortion-related paraphernalia.”

During a meeting, state Rep. Matthew McQueen (D-Galisteo) threatened to yank funding from the Town of Edgewood if it passed the pro-life ordinance, according to attendees present and members of the public.

“I’m just going to have to reconsider how I allocate my capital outlay,” said McQueen, referring to funds legislators have for projects in their districts. In 2023, each legislator got $2,510,000 to spend.

Edgewood Commissioner Ken Brennan of District One clapped back at the lawmaker, “Is that a threat?”

McQueen responded, “Well if you want to take it that way.”

The Democrat lawmaker is also reported to have said, “I have 30,000 constituents, and Edgewood is insignificant.” 

Present at the meeting were Mayor Audrey Jaramillo, Commissioners Jerry Powers, Filandro R. Anaya, Ken Brennan, Sterling Donner, state Rep. Stefani Lord (R-Sandia Park), and others. 

Among McQueen’s capital outlay requests for 2023 were four projects in Edgewood, with one project funded $500,000. That project was to revamp recreational facilities at Venus Park. 

During the consideration of the ordinance, Rep. Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe) testified in opposition to its passage, while pro-life Reps. Lord and John Block (R-Alamogordo) and Sen. David Gallegos (R-Eunice) testified in support. McQueen left the meeting before public comment.

The Town Commission passed the ordinance early Wednesday morning by a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Anaya being the only vote against it. Edgewood’s move comes after other pro-life localities, including the Cities of Eunice, Hobbs, and Clovis, also passed similar ordinances. 

Because the ordinance is based on federal laws and not state laws, it supersedes recent legislation, including H.B. 7, attempting to ban localities from regulating abortion. 

In New Mexico, abortion is legal up to the date of birth without exceptions. 

Rep. McQueen did not respond to a Friday request for comment. We afforded him the entire weekend to respond, but he has not yet since reached out to comment on the matter.

$3 million winning lottery ticket sold in New Mexico

Friday’s winning $3 million Mega Millions lottery ticket was sold in New Mexico.

NorthJersey.com reported, “One ticket sold in New Mexico matched all five white balls and had the Megaplier to win $3 million.”

The winning numbers for Friday’s drawing are 18 – 38 – 53 – 62 – 64 and Megaball 20. The Megaplier was 3x. 

“The odds of matching all five numbers and the Mega number are 1 in 302,575,350, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association. The overall chance of winning a prize is 1 in 24,” reported City News Service

In New Mexico, the lottery winner has 90 days from the date of the announcement to claim the prize. 

The next Mega Millions drawing is Tuesday. The drawings occur every Tuesday and Friday at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

In New Mexico, the lottery winner cannot remain anonymous. A bill sponsored in the 2023 Legislative Session, S.B. 198, by Sen. Pat Woods (R-Broadview), proposed letting lottery winners remain anonymous to claim their prize.

It read that the New Mexico Tax and Revenue Department “shall not disclose a connection between a winner of a lottery game and information about the winner the department is required to reveal.” 

The bill passed unanimously in the state Senate but did not reach the finish line in the New Mexico House due to running out of time for consideration during the 60-day session.

Currently, 13 states allow some form of anonymity for lottery winners, with Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming allowing total anonymity regardless of the size of the prize, according to Lotto America.

The usual suspects emerge to oppose NM pro-life sanctuary cities

Like clockwork, outside dark money groups, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains are seeking to get involved in attacking pro-life sanctuary cities.

The groups, which are bankrolled by hundreds of millions in donations from billionaires, such as George Soros, are planning on submitting briefs in a state Supreme Court case filed by pro-abortion Democrat Attorney General Raúl Torrez attempting to strike down six pro-life sanctuaries in Clovis, Hobbs, Eunice and Edgewood and Lea and Roosevelt counties.

The Albuquerque Journal reported, “The ACLU and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains both alerted the state Supreme Court this week they plan to file briefs in the case, which was brought by Attorney General Raúl Torrez’s office and has emerged as a key test to local governments’ ability to restrict access to abortion services.”

The ACLU’s attorney, Ellie Rushforth, said the stakes “could not be higher” in the case and said abortionists would “leave for fear of litigation and civil and criminal penalties.”

“Meanwhile, attorneys for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains said in their notice of intent that other groups would join them in filing a so-called amicus brief with the court. Those groups include the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a Washington D.C.-based professional membership group, and Bold Futures New Mexico, which has advocated for access to abortion services.” 

The pro-abortion groups have for years threatened localities with litigation over pro-life stances, from resolutions to ordinances. Last year when the City of Alamogordo passed a pro-life resolution, the ACLU sent a hostage letter, threatening litigation if the City was to enforce it. Despite the threats, the City passed it, and it remains intact after a failed referendum attempt that fell short.

The ordinances passed by the six localities all are based upon the federal Comstock Act, which supersedes state statutes far-left Democrats have passed, such as 2023’s H.B. 7, attempting to circumvent local control of abortion.

The New Mexico Supreme Court is set to rule on the matter in May. 

KOB poll on financial literacy delivers shocking results

A poll run by KOB 4 asked viewers, “Should NM schools require students to take financial literacy classes?” as its question of the day.

As of 3:54 p.m. on Thursday, the poll showed that a shocking 96 percent of respondents support mandatory financial literacy classes in schools, with only four percent opposing it. 

Screenshot via KOB 4 of financial literacy poll taken 3:45 p.m. on April 27, 2023.

The massive level of support from across the spectrum is another affirmation of financial literacy’s necessity in New Mexico classrooms.

During the 2023 Legislative Session, Republican and Democrat legislators in both the New Mexico House of Representatives and Senate unsuccessfully proposed mandatory financial literacy classes in state K-12 schools.

H.B. 279 from Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R-Carlsbad) would have required financial literacy to be a prerequisite for high school graduation. S.B. 341 from Sen. Moe Maestas (D-Albuquerque) stated that “[p]ersonal finance shall be offered as an elective.” However, those bills did not make it through.

According to the latest scientific nationwide poll done by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) in late 2022 found that only 44 percent of adult Americans “feel confident making financial decisions because they had prior knowledge. In addition, 40% of adults feel confident because they had made and learned from a similar decision in the past.” 

The low confidence number nationwide is alarming and calls on the need for mandatory financial literacy since the same poll also found that 88 percent of respondents say their state should require a semester or year-long financial education course for graduation.

“Some states already require students to take a financial education course, and some states are in the process of instituting this curriculum. Americans overwhelmingly agree that learning money skills at an early age is important. In fact, 80% of American adults wish they had been required to take a semester- or year-long financial education class in high school,” said Billy Hensley, Ph.D., president and CEO of NEFE. “This polling reinforces the national support for personal finance to be a part of learning in all schools.”

In future legislative sessions, the strong support for financial literacy in New Mexico and nationwide may drive a renewed push for legislation to ensure this is a requirement of New Mexico public school graduates. 

Rio Rancho parents seek to get porn out of taxpayer-funded libraries

On Thursday, Rio Rancho parents and community leaders will urge the removal of pornography from Rio Rancho taxpayer-funded public libraries. 

Some of these titles include “This Book is Gay” by James Dawson, which activists from New Mexico Mass Resistance describe as a “how-to” book for “depraved, unsafe sexual perversions.”

Another book sought to be removed is “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, featuring “Very explicit drawings of teens having homosexual sex with each other, including a boy sucking on another boy’s penis… [A main character is a girl trying to be a boy, so it’s transgender propaganda as well].” 

More information about this book targeting children can be found here.

“​​Flamer” by Mike Curato, another book being opposed, is described as “Some boys were at scout camp and they were all in a tent and with their pants pulled down. Another boy comes in and they hand him a bottle. They tell him that they’ve all masturbated into that bottle, and if he can’t do it right now in front of them, then he has to drink it.”

The group writes, “All of the books listed above (and hundreds of similar books) can be checked out by children (defined as age 18 and below) from the Rio Rancho Public Library. The purchase of the books has been funded by ‘Quality of Life’ General Obligation Bonds approved by Sandoval County voters. These books should not be allowed in our library. This is NOT a First Amendment Freedom of Speech issue or ‘Book Banning.’ According to New Mexico Statues Chapter 30-37-2 Sexual exploitation of children, possession of this obscene

material is a fourth degree Felony.” 

The meeting will take place Thursday at 6:00 p.m. at Rio Rancho City Hall. The address is 3200 Civic Center Circle NE in Rio Rancho and attendees are urged to get there early, with instructions to “[a]rrive no later than 5:30PM and sign-in at the City Clerk’s table.”

The group urges, “Do not make homophobic statements! We are intent on protecting our children from … transgenderism.” 

New Mexico Mass Resistance writes that the Rio Rancho City Council canceled its April 10, 2023 meeting, with questions of what is the governing board hiding. “We don’t care if this material is available elsewhere, just as long as it is NOT in OUR library,” the group added. 

More information for attending the meeting is below: 

This meeting will be conducted in-person and virtually, as well as, streamed live on the City of Rio Rancho website at: https://rrnm.gov/2303/Watch-and-Download-City-Meetings 

Individuals wishing to present public comment may do so in-person or remotely via Zoom meeting software with the access information below: 

Join by Computer: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/85302353741?pwd=bWp1QXliSGJoeHhJaGVOczF4MDN0UT09 

Meeting ID: 853 0235 3741 

Passcode: 789419 

Join by Phone: Dial 1-720-707-2699 US then enter the Meeting ID and Passcode above

Should books sexualizing children be banned from public libraries?

Please fill out the form:

Former New Mexico governor declared deceased

On Wednesday, it was reported that former New Mexico Gov. Jerry Apodaca, 88, had passed away. 

Apodaca was elected in 1974 and went on to serve on Democrat former President Jimmy Carter’s Council on Physical Fitness after leaving office in 1979. 

Apodaca’s son, Jeff Apodaca, a former 2018 candidate for governor, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that the former governor “may have suffered a stroke at his home.”

He said, “His legacy is not that he was the first Latino governor elected,” adding, “His legacy was that he opened doors for minorities, Hispanics, women in the state and around the country.”

Governor Jerry Apodaca in 2002. Screenshot via C-SPAN.

Apodaca was elected to the New Mexico Senate in 1965 and defeated Republican Congressman Joe Skeen in the gubernatorial election.

In the 1970s, governors could only run for one four-year non-consecutive term, so the former governor only served one term. Once leaving office, Apodaca served on the University of New Mexico Board of Regents. The New Mexico Public Education Department building in Santa Fe is named in his honor. 

In 2018, Apodaca, a Democrat, supported Republican Congressman Steve Pearce for governor over far-left Democrat then-Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is currently serving her second term as governor. 

Heinrich to kick off reelection bid for Senate with governorship in his sights

According to a report by the Santa Fe New Mexican, far-left Democrat U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich is kicking off his 2024 U.S. Senate reelection bid to hold onto the office until he potentially makes a run for governor in 2026.

“Democratic U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich plans to kick off his 2024 reelection campaign Friday with a fundraiser in a private home. Senate terms last six years, but Heinrich might try to cut short his stay by running for governor in 2026,” the report notes. 

The news comes as Heinrich was just elevated to chairman of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) for the 118th Congress, of which he previously served as vice chair and ranking member.

Heinrich said of the elevated role, “Too many people in Washington, D.C. think that if the stock market is going up, the economy is in good shape. But that’s not true for working families in New Mexico or across the country. The way we should measure the success of the economy is if parents can afford to send their kids to college, entrepreneurs can start new businesses, our children are educated and healthy, and workers are able to retire with peace of mind,” adding, “As we continue our economic recovery, ensuring access to quality education, well-paying jobs, affordable healthcare, and clean energy are essential to our collective prosperity.”

Some may take the rhetoric, of which is rare from Heinrich, as a move to position himself in a place of power as he eyes New Mexico’s chief executive office.

“As his campaign begins, Heinrich will have to deal with uncomfortable questions until he supplies answers. Voters need to know if he pledges to complete another term in the Senate, or if he’s going to run for governor,” opined the New Mexican.

The report notes that the “favorite” in the Democrat primary to take over the governorship following incumbent Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham would be U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, writing, “Deb Haaland would beat him if she wants the job. And Haaland, secretary of the interior, could depart her appointed position more easily than Heinrich could abandon his elective office.” 

Scroll to Top