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Roundup: Pennsylania AG Kane warns of tax scam; Another year, another $1 for Google co-founders; more

| Saturday, March 29, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Pa. AG warns of tax scam

Attorney General Kathleen Kane warned consumers of potential tax-return scams, especially one involving calls from people claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service. Kane's advisory, roughly two weeks before the IRS' April 15 filing deadline, said scammers have claimed in phone calls that taxpayers could be arrested or deported unless they settle their debt using a pre-paid debit card. “The IRS typically contacts citizens by mail about unpaid taxes and will not ask for payment with a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. They will never ask for a credit card number over the phone,” the advisory stated.

Google co-founders $1 richer

Google paid co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin their customary $1 salaries last year, while Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt's compensation more than doubled to $19.3 million. Most of Schmidt's raise stemmed from stock grants valued at $11.4 million. Google issued them to make up for an administrative error in the handling of a large award given to Schmidt in February 2011, according to regulatory documents filed on Friday. If not for the mix-up, Schmidt's pay package last year would have risen 4 percent from the $7.6 million that he got in 2012. Page, Google's CEO, and Brin, a top executive, capped their salaries at $1 annually since Google Inc. went public nearly a decade ago. It's a symbolic gesture that many other Silicon Valley executives have made after amassing fortunes through the stock that they held in their respective companies. Page, 41, and Brin, 40, each own Google stock worth about $26 billion.

S&P downgrades Target to ‘A'

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered its rating on Target Corp. in response to weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter results that were dragged down by an extensive data breach and a disappointing foray into Canada. The rating agency said Friday that it lowered its ratings one notch down to “A” from “A+.” The rating is four grades above speculative or junk status. S&P said the outlook is still “Stable,” implying further changes are not imminent. “The downgrade reflects our expectations for limited recovery of credit metrics given continued operating losses at the Canadian division as well as potential costs related to the data breach,” said S&P's credit analyst Ana Lai.

H&M withdraws vest over anti-Semitism controversy

Fashion retailer H&M has pulled a vest from its shelves worldwide in response to accusations that its design, which featured a menacing skull in the center of a Star of David, was anti-Semitic. The Swedish company said in a statement on Friday that it is sorry if the print offended anyone and that it was not its intention to provoke such a reaction. European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor welcomed the garment's withdrawal, calling it a “thoughtless and insensitive design.” The menswear item was on sale in stores worldwide, including in Israel, where the retailer has 14 stores.

BlackBerry revenue falls below $1 billion

BlackBerry reported a steep drop in profit and revenue on Friday as it transitions from a smartphone company to a software business under its new chief executive. The Canadian company lost $423 million, or 80 cents per share. Adjusted for one-time items, it lost 8 cents per share, much better than the losses of 56 cents per share that analysts expected, according to FactSet. Revenue fell to $976 million from $2.7 billion, the first time the company's revenue has dropped below $1 billion since late 2007. That was short of the $1.1 billion analysts had projected. It is the second quarterly report under CEO John Chen, who is de-emphasizing the hardware business since last year's debut of the BlackBerry 10 failed to spark a turnaround.

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