January 8, 2014

SC business notebook, Jan 8

Local flight delays, cancellations likely; JP Morgan to pay $2.5 billion; Sony to offer Internet-based TV service; Velveeta shortages are likely; and, Tax refund fraud skyrocketing

Local flight delays, cancellations likely

Air travelers are being urged to pack plenty of patience and be prepared for delays as an extreme cold snap continues to cause flight delays and cancellations nationwide. Many flights at Columbia Metropolitan Airport were delayed or cancelled Tuesday and airport officials expect that trend to continue Wednesday as the frigid weather persists. Fliers should check the arrivals and departures board at for flight information. Airport spokeswoman Lynne Douglas said travelers also should double-check flight information with airlines.

JP Morgan to pay $2.5 billion

JPMorgan will pay more than $2.5 billion for missing obvious warning signs of Bernard Madoff’s massive Ponzi scheme. Authorities said Tuesday that the nation’s largest bank will forfeit $1.7 billion to settle criminal charges. It also will pay a $350 million civil settlement to the government. The trustee recovering assets for Madoff investors also announced that the bank will pay $543 million to settle other claims brought on behalf of fraud victims. The bank says it doesn’t believe employees knowingly assisted Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

Sony to offer Internet-based TV service

Sony says it will start an Internet-based TV service in the U.S. this year, offering a mix of live TV programming and video on demand. Andrew House, group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., broke the news at the International CES gadget show on Tuesday after months of speculation that Sony Corp. has such a service in the works. House says the service will have personalized channels catered to the viewer’s tastes and enable viewers to see what their friends are watching. Sony plans to start testing the service in the U.S. this year. Based on the number of homes with Internet-connected Sony devices, he says the service would be among the top 5 providers of TV programming in the country.

Velveeta shortages are likely

Kraft Foods says some customers may not be able to find Velveeta products over the next few weeks but didn’t give any reasons for the apparent shortage. A spokeswoman for the company, Jody Moore, says only that such shortages happen from time to time. She noted that the lack of availability is more noticeable because of the seasonal demand. Moore says Kraft hasn’t heard from any customers that they’re having problem finding the products.

Tax refund fraud skyrocketing

The Internal Revenue Service says there has been a big jump in thieves stealing Social Security numbers to fraudulently claim tax refunds. The agency said it launched 1,492 criminal investigations into identity theft last year, a 66 percent increase from the year before. Prosecutions and indictments more than doubled. The numbers dwarf those from just two years ago. In all, the agency said Tuesday it has flagged 14.6 million suspicious tax returns since 2011, blocking more than $50 billion in fraudulent refunds.

Kristy Eppley Rupon and The Associated Press contributed.

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