MIAMI, May 14, 2019 – Chef Jon Ashton and Crystal Cruises’ Chef Tee Swe Sem (executive chef for Crystal Serenity’s Silk Kitchen & Bar) are teaming up to create an indulgent take on a classic Chinese favorite, inspired by the flavors found in American Samoa. During the award-winning ship’s visit to Pago Pago, Chef Ashton joined local food expert Paula Stevenson-McDonald for an in-depth glimpse into the culinary customs of the island, which are highlighted in the latest episode of “Crystal Cruises Presents: A Culinary Journey Hosted by Jon Ashton,” now available for viewing on the Crystal Insider blog. In the video, viewers can follow along as Jon explores the various versions of sapa sui, Samoa’s take on the Chinese classic chop suey. Fresh coconut, curry, seafood and vegetables inspire a brand-new dish created for Silk aboard Crystal Serenity – lobster potsticker with coconut crepe. Visiting an array of locales around the world with Crystal Serenity, the “Culinary Journey” video series features local chefs, farmers and expert guides showcasing the signature dishes – and tips for preparing them – in an array of locales, taking him and viewers off the beaten paths into the heart of each place’s culinary spirit. The videos air every two weeks, published on Crystal’s Crystal Insider blog and Crystal Cruises’ YouTube channel. About Crystal Only the world-renowned Crystal Experience offers an unwavering, unparalleled standard of excellence and luxury across four distinct cruising options: Crystal Cruises, the World’s Most Awarded Luxury Cruise Line; Crystal River Cruises, the World’s Most Luxurious River Cruise Line; Crystal Yacht Cruises, offering boutique luxury and bold adventure in the world’s most elite harbors; and Crystal Expedition Cruises, taking Crystal’s acclaimed elegance to the farthest reaches of the world. Crystal has been recognized with top honors in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards for a record 25 years; voted “World’s Best” by the readers of Travel + Leisure for 20 years; and won the “Best Luxury Cruise Line” by Virtuoso for four years (2014, 2015, 2016 & 2018). Crystal is proud to be a platinum partner of the advisors of ASTA. For more information and Crystal reservations, contact a travel advisor, call 888.799.2437, or visitwww.crystalcruises.com. Join the hundreds of thousands who subscribe to the Crystal Insider blog, follow Crystal Cruises’ Facebook page and @crystalcruises on Twitter and Instagram, and engage in the conversation with #crystalcruises and #WhereLuxuryisPersonal.
FILE – In this March 22, 2013 file photo, the exterior of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington. As millions of Americans file their income tax returns, their chances of getting audited by the IRS have rarely been so low. The number of people audited by the IRS last year dropped for the sixth straight year, to just over 1 million. The last time so few people were audited was 2004, when the population was significantly smaller. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) WASHINGTON – The IRS strikes back: The tax agency reports that the number of identity theft victims plummeted last year after agents struggled for years to combat what has become a multibillion-dollar industry.The number of victims dropped by 46 per cent, to 376,000, the IRS said. These taxpayers had their identities stolen by criminals who used their Social Security numbers and birthdates to obtain fraudulent tax refunds.The IRS stopped nearly 1 million fraudulent refunds from being issued last year. They totalled almost $6.6 billion, the agency said.“It’s a much more challenging time for the cybercrooks,” said Mark Ciaramitaro, vice-president for retail tax products and services at H&R Block. “All of the easy paths have been closed.”Identity theft exploded from 2010 to 2012, and “for a time overwhelmed law enforcement and the IRS,” said John Dalrymple, deputy IRS commissioner for services and enforcement.At the IRS, it peaked in 2014, when the agency identified more than 766,000 victims. That same year, the IRS blocked 1.8 million in fraudulent refunds from being issued. They totalled $10.8 billion.“We’ve driven a lot of the fraud out of the system,” Dalrymple said.The IRS is a popular target for sophisticated identity thieves because the agency issues more than $300 billion in tax refunds each year.Several years ago, it was as simple as using another person’s Social Security number and birthdate to fill out a fake tax return claiming a big refund. If thieves filed the return early in the tax filing season — before the legitimate taxpayer — they could get refunds before the IRS received verifying financial information from employers, banks and brokers.To make it easier, thieves can get fraudulent refunds on prepaid debit cards that are not linked to bank accounts.“I think everybody got caught by surprise by how inventive the criminals were here,” Dalrymple said. “I don’t think it was just the IRS. I think in general, the whole idea of identity theft caught everybody by surprise.”Criminals can steal victims’ personal information from hospitals, doctor’s offices, universities, prisons — any entity that collects Social Security numbers and birthdates.In 2015, federal authorities broke up a massive identity theft ring in Alabama and Georgia that netted $10 million in fraudulent refunds. Among the victims: Soldiers injured in Afghanistan who were being treated at Fort Benning’s hospital.Last year, authorities broke up a ring in the District of Columbia that tried to obtain more than $20 million in fraudulent tax refunds. Among the victims: people in assisted living facilities, drug addicts and prison inmates.In recent years, the IRS has beefed up its computer filters to identity potential fake tax returns. If there are dramatic differences in a taxpayer’s return from year to year, it might get flagged for additional review.Two years ago, the IRS also teamed up with major tax preparers and state tax agencies to share information and improve security.Identity theft is “the No. 1 issue that the IRS talks to us about,” said Brian Ashcraft, director of tax compliance at Liberty Taxe. “It’s been a huge focus.”Online tax preparers are working to better confirm the identity of their customers through stronger passwords and by using more than one way to verify them, said Julie Miller of Intuit Inc., which owns Turbo Taxe. For example, after online customers enter a password, they might receive a text from the company with an additional code to enter.Congress has also given the IRS more tools to prevent criminals from getting fraudulent tax refunds.This year, employers are required to report wage information to the IRS by Jan. 31. In the past, most employers had until the end of March to report wage information, often long after refunds had been issued.Also, the IRS is now required to hold refunds until Feb. 15 for families claiming the earned income tax credit or the additional child tax credit. These credits are available in the form of payments to people who don’t make enough money to owe any federal income taxes, which makes them attractive to identity thieves.The provision, however, delays tax refunds for millions of low-income families.Tax preparers and the IRS said identity theft is still a major threat as criminals become more sophisticated. To combat it, they regularly share information about new threats and scams, especially during tax season.“This is not a time to celebrate,” said Ciaramitaro of H&R Block. “It’s not fixed but I think that co-operation has led to measurable improvement.”___Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephenatap by Stephen OhlemacHer, The Associated Press Posted Mar 9, 2017 11:10 am MDT Last Updated Mar 9, 2017 at 12:00 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email IRS strikes back as agents make big dent in identity theft