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Why Kids Keep Getting Stuck in Claw Toy Machines


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Like a moth attracted to the flame, kids just can't seem to keep their tiny bodies out of toy claw machines. The latest incident started when 18-month-old Colin Lambert climbed into the game in Maryville, Tennessee, while his grandmother wasn't looking.

The fire department quickly retrieved the toddler from the toy machine at Browns Creek Coin Laundry.

States including Wisconsin have regulated claw machine games as they do gambling activities -- limiting the value of prizes -- but not as safety hazards.

Claw machines are designed to be tantalizing, said Barbara Eldredge, design researcher and writer for creative agency Real Art, which made the world’s biggest claw machine, according to Guinness World Records. It is being re-installed and opens this week at Proto BuildBar in Dayton, Ohio. The claw game is 17-by-8-by-12 feet and costs $5 to play.

"The prizes are so close but they are also just out of reach. The appeal of going inside is like entering a magic land. It’s kid-sized and if the kid can fit, why not?" she said.

Only about a foot away, Colin had been playing with the machine's door, which made a loud sound when it was pushed open, then closed.

"He likes things that go 'bang' and climbing. He’s just at that age," Colin Lambert's grandmother Diane O'Neill said. "I was listening to the 'bang bang.' I personally think he was hitting it with his head then he realized he could get through."

O'Neill said in the seconds that she looked at a message on her phone, the toddler had climbed through the game's door, which she estimates at about 8-by-10 inches. The only thing she saw was his feet through the door, but when she grabbed his feet, he kicked her grasp away.

The laundromat worker didn't have the key to open the machine, so O'Neill called 911. The fire department swiftly removed the boy.

"They literally popped the glass part where the toys were, took him out and gave him a toy," O'Neill said.

Other incidents include the teary 2-year-old in Kentucky rescued from a claw machine, also in a laundromat, in 2012.

In April, a toddler in Nebraska wandered out of his home to a nearby bowling alley and climbed into its claw machine. Both the mother and the bowling alley had called 911. 

Last year, another boy was rescued from a bowling alley claw game, because the machine's key was handy.

In 2010, a Pennsylvania toddler with a pacifier climbed into the toy machine in a mall, to the horror of her mother.

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How Police Say Two Women Almost Got Away With Stealing at Least 6 Houses


iStock/Thinkstock(PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY, Md.) -- When Laverne Green and her husband divorced, she moved out of their Prince Georges County, Maryland, townhouse, but she still stopped by weekly.

In May 2013, Green was shocked to discover that someone had stolen her house and moved strangers in.

When Green arrived at the home, she found that her key didn't work in the door. Green told ABC News' 20/20 that a woman answered the door. "She said that she was renting the property. I'm like, 'How can you rent this property-- this is my house?'"

The renters said they procured the house through broker Shannon Lee. According to Green, Lee said, "'Well, I bought this property through a tax sale.'"

"I asked her, '[Do you] have the deeds and everything to the house?' She said, 'Oh yeah, I've got everything.'"

Police say Lee had actually taken control of her house with forged documents and then rented it out.

"Nobody suspected that someone would actually advertise a property they didn't own and collect rent on it," prosecutor Angela Alsobrooks told 20/20.

Alsobrooks said this type of scam only works if the real homeowner isn't around to notice. Luckily, Green not only visited her house often, but she also was a secretary for the Prince Georges County Police. Instead of calling 911, Green asked co-worker Lt. Charles Duelley for help.

Duelley got a search warrant for Lee's home and discovered a stack of deeds he said were forged for other homes. He also found evidence that 15 to 20 other properties had been targeted.

Police say Lee, along with her alleged partner, Qiana Johnson, gained control of at least six houses and planned to steal 15 to 20 more.

Duelley believes Lee scouted the area for houses that appeared vacant and were pending foreclosure. He said she compiled meticulous house-by-house reports of potential targets, even breaking in to take photos.

Lee then used blank deeds, according to Duelley, adding her name as the new owner, a fake notary seal and a bogus lawyer signature. She then simply walked into the county records department to officially enter that counterfeit into the public record.

Charrise and Michael Stewart answered an advertisement Lee posted when she was looking to rent one house she had taken over. The Stewarts said Lee represented herself as a respected broker, gave them a tour and got them to sign a lease. It seemed legitimate to them, despite some suspicious red flags, they said.

"From the outside you can see the damage done to the locks of the door, as if someone busted in the door, changed the locks on the door," Charles Stewart said. Lee claimed that the scratches were from when she had trouble changing the locks.

The couple also wondered why they were not receiving electric bills from the local utility, Pepco. The Stewarts called the utility, but were told they couldn’t find them in the system as the owners.

Meanwhile, authorities said, Lee and Johnson were collecting rent from the house and other properties they’d stolen. They allegedly even sold one for a pile of cash.

"She had had herself convinced that the paperwork was of good enough quality on the forgeries that she…thought she was in the clear," Duelley said.

Police said that Lee and Johnson kept the bigger properties to live in themselves, including a sprawling five-bedroom colonial house that Donnie and David Small lived in in Cheltenham, Maryland.

The Smalls had been forced to leave their beloved home when Donnie Small’s job was transferred to California. Struggling to carry two homes, they fell behind on the payments. Police said that was when Johnson used a faked deed to move her whole family in.

Donnie Small's former neighbors said Johnson claimed to be family members of the Smalls. But some neighbors became suspicious and called Donnie Small's husband.

"[They said], 'Did you sell the house?'" Donnie Small said. "And he's like, 'No.'"

The Smalls called police, who evicted Johnson's family. But Johnson moved back in hours later, and in an outrageous twist, Johnson sued the Smalls for false eviction.

Lee and Johnson were eventually arrested. Lee pleaded guilty to burglary and forgery. She is facing multiple counts of theft, forgery and burglary. Johnson was charged with multiple counts of theft, burglary and forgery, among other charges.

Donnie Small and Laverne Green had to file expensive eviction proceedings to get their houses back, and the Stewarts spent thousands of dollars when they had to quickly move out and find a new home.

When confronted by 20/20, Lee said, "The truth will come out…I didn't steal any houses." Johnson has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Lee later missed another court hearing, claiming she'd been in the hospital. She gave the judge hospital admissions records to prove it, but even the records were proved to be forged. She was sentenced to six months and may face additional charges as well.

Johnson is currently awaiting trial.

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After Two Days of Gains, Dow Falls Over 100 Points


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After two days of gains, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 100 points on Wednesday.

The Dow lost 153.49 points, closing at 16,461.32.

The Nasdaq went down 36.63 points to 4,382.85, while the S&P 500 dropped 14.17 points, ending the day at 1,927.11.

After reporting one of its worst quarters in years, McDonald's is outlining a plan for what it calls fundamental changes to its business. A big part will include simplifying the menu and removing low-selling products.

Boeing is reporting strong earnings, with profits up 18% for the quarter.

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Feds: Our Bad, Millions More Air Bags Could Be Dangerous


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Federal officials say a previous count of the number of vehicles that could be loaded with defective air bags came up short by more than three million, and the government website drivers could use to see if their individual car is on the list is currently down due to “intermittent network issues.”

On Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published an urgent plea on its website for more than 4.7 million owners of vehicles with Takata air bags to immediately get the air bags replaced, as the owners had been directed in previous recall notices over the past two years.

Auto safety expert Sean Kane told ABC News that the renewed warning is related to the potential for the air bag’s inflator to explode when deployed, sending “shrapnel” into the face of the car’s occupant -- a phenomenon allegedly linked to gruesome injuries and a small number of deaths.

“This is literally like having an IED [improvised explosive device] in your car,” Kane said.

Late Tuesday, the government revised the number, however, saying actually 7.8 million vehicles have been subject to the air bag recall since 2013.

“The list below corrects the list that accompanied our October 20 advisory, which incorrectly included certain vehicles,” the NHTSA website says, noting that the numbers could change again.

Beyond the list of make and models on the NHTSA website, the federal agency says concerned vehicle owners can contact their manufacturer’s website to search by the vehicle identification number (VIN) to see if the vehicle they drive is one of those under recall. NHTSA has its own VIN lookup website, but as of this report, that function was unavailable due to “intermittent network issues,” according to a posting on the site.

The recall reminder is “especially” urgent for vehicle owners in warm climates like the southern U.S., Hawaii and American island territories. Toyota, a maker of some of the recalled vehicles, said on its website Monday said the “influence of high absolute humidity” in the air bag malfunctions is under investigation.

Earlier this month, Florida woman Hien Tran was killed in a mysterious auto accident that police initially treated like a homicide due to the apparent stab wounds on her neck. Later, however, investigators determined her fatal wounds were “consistent with…exploding airbags,” according to The Orlando Sentinel. If confirmed, auto safety experts say Tran’s death would be the fourth linked to the dangerous defect.

NHTSA opened an investigation into the issue back in June, at which time air bag supplier Takata published a statement on its website saying the company “is committed to the highest standards of safety for our customers -- and their customers.”

“For the past several months, we have been consistently cooperating with NHTSA, and we will continue to do so during the defect investigation that the agency recently opened, but we also stand by the quality of our products,” says the note, which was reposted on Takata’s website earlier this week. “Takata is committed to ensuring the safety and functionality of its airbag inflators, and we strive to avoid any malfunction.”

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What You Need to Know About Health Care Open Enrollment


Steve Hamblin/Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The stakes are higher for picking your health care insurance this year, whether choosing employer-sponsored plans or health exchange coverage.

An individual must have some kind of coverage or pay the individual mandate penalty. For 2015, this will be $325 per adult in a family and half that much for each child under 18, up to $975 per household.

"Everyone should get some kind of coverage," said Timothy Jost, a professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Here are things you should know about open enrollment:

1. Deadlines

Know your employer's open enrollment period.

Open enrollment for all health care exchanges is shorter for 2015: Nov. 15 to Feb. 15. Individuals may qualify for special enrollment periods beyond this time frame if, for example, they get married, have a baby or move.

2. Employer-sponsored vs. exchange coverage?

Some employees can decline employer-sponsored insurance and instead pursue tax credits on public exchanges. Employer-sponsored insurance must be affordable and offer adequate coverage, said Andrea Riggs, director of communications for GetInsured. If the employee's contribution toward a plan is less than 9.5 percent of the employee's household income, then it is deemed affordable.

An employee with low enough wages may also be eligible for Medicaid, Jost said.

3. Research a plan’s total cost

Don't just focus on the premiums, Riggs said. A few employers, for example, do not cover hospitalization, Jost said. What's the out-of-pocket limit? Does your employer offer a Health Savings Account (HSA), which can roll over and is yours to keep?

4. Vocabulary and mechanics

Healthy people who need less care should be more comfortable paying lower premiums (the amount paid for your health plan by you and/or your employer) with less coverage, Riggs said. This means higher co-pays (fixed amount paid for a service) and higher deductibles (the amount paid out of pocket before an insurer will pay up). People who need more care should opt for richer benefits (lower co-pays, lower deductibles) with higher premiums.

5. Don't forget about providers and drugs

Make sure any doctors and specialists key to you are in a plan's network, that there are enough providers near your home or work and that your prescribed drugs are covered.

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Apple Issues Security Warning over Attacks on iCloud Users


Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Apple said it is aware of "intermittent" attacks on iCloud users and is urging users to take precautions to make sure their private information stays safe.

The new security bulletin comes as reports have emerged that some iCloud users in China have been taken to unauthorized websites after trying to log into their accounts.

A post on Apple's support website does not explicitly refer to China. The iPhone maker also noted that its servers have not been compromised.

"We're aware of intermittent organized network attacks using insecure certificates to obtain user information, and we take this very seriously," the bulletin said.

The hacking attempts don't impact users who sign in to their iCloud accounts on iOS devices. Macs running the new OS X Yosemite using Safari are also not impacted, Apple said.

The company recommends users protect their data by making sure they have a secure connection to iCloud.com before entering any personal information.

"If users get an invalid certificate warning in their browser while visiting www.icloud.com, they should pay attention to the warning and not proceed," Apple said in the post.

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"Back to the Future" Today? Inventor Raises Funds for Hoverboard


Hoverboard prototype - Courtesy of Hendo(NEW YORK) -- Admit it. Didn’t you always want Marty McFly’s gravity-defying hoverboard from Back to the Future Part II? Well, today, the future may just be here.

Just in time for the 25th anniversary of the time travel classic film, Greg Henderson, a California inventor has launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring the Hendo Hoverboard from film to the real world.

“Thanks to Marty McFly, this is the perfect example of the stepping stone. ...We can't go over hedges or mobile sidewalks yet, but we'll get there,” Henderson said of his creation that will carry a $10,000 price tag.

Ever since Marty McFly -- played by Michael J. Fox -- dropped in on Oct. 21, 2015, the film’s fans have been searching for a way to get their hands on the real deal, likely thanks in no small part to the movie’s director, Robert Zemeckis, pulling off a hoax video featuring stuntmen testing the boards in a behind-the-scenes special.

The video falsely claimed that hoverboards had been around for years, and that parent groups would not allow toy manufacturers to make them. It added that the film’s creators got their hands on them and put them into the movie.

There have been attempts at the real thing over the years, such as a water-powered board. Another sold by Mattel in 2012 bore the heartbreaking disclaimer: “Hoverboard will not actually hover.”

Kickstarter’s investors are ready to believe in McFly’s hoverboard being made today. As of Wednesday morning, Hendo Hover pulled in more than $200,000 of its $250,000 goal.

"We knew there was going to be a lot of interest, just Google hoverboards,” Henderson said, adding: “being able to make some dreams come true is really great."

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Shoppers Have a New Way to Save Money at Walmart


Daniel Aguilar/Getty ImagesBy Elisabeth Leamy

(NEW YORK) --- Retail behemoth Walmart has introduced an online tool likely to delight customers and frighten competitors: the Savings Catcher comparison tool. The tool allows Walmart shoppers to see if they could have gotten their purchases for less at another store and then refunds them the difference, if so.

Here's how it works. After shopping at a Walmart store, customers can visit Walmart.com or use Walmart's mobile app. Simply type in your receipt number (you can find it near the bottom of each Walmart receipt) and the date you shopped. The Savings Catcher tool then compares your purchases with prices for those same products as advertised in other retail store circulars. If the tool identifies an advertised price that is less than what you paid at Walmart, you get a Walmart eGift certificate for the difference.

On the pro side, Walmart has offered price matching for years and this tool automates the process. Previously, customers had to check competitors' ads themselves and request a price match at the Walmart checkout, so this is far easier. If I'm going to be picky and offer a "con," it's that the price reduction doesn't just happen automatically at the register. Perhaps that day will come, but, for now, customers must take an extra step. Walmart's tutorial also says the "Savings Catcher" only looks at "eligible" items, so presumably, some types of products are excluded, which might mean savings missed.

Still, anything that makes price matching easier for customers is welcome because it's one of the essential tools for any "guerrilla grocery shopper" who wants to save big money. When I did a price matching experiment of my own, I found this technique could bring grocery bills down by as much as 40 percent, bested only by creative couponing and stockpiling as strategies.

A similar service, Citi Price Rewind, refunds the price difference on Citi credit card purchases you've made within 60 days, with the exception of tickets, and certain large ticket items like jewelry and boats.

Walmart says Savings Catcher will initially index roughly 80,000 products and will later add fresh produce and more. So check it out and--if you like the savings you see--ping the company and let them know so they'll expand the tool further, faster.

Opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.

Elisabeth Leamy is a 20-year consumer advocate for programs including "Good Morning America" and "The Dr. Oz Show." She is the author of “Save BIG” and “The Savvy Consumer.” Elisabeth is also a professional speaker, delivering talks nationwide on saving money, media relations and career success. Elisabeth receives her best story tips from readers, so please connect with her via Facebook, Twitter or her website to share your ideas.

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Toys ‘R’ Us Confirms It's Pulled “Breaking Bad” Action Figures


Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC(NEW YORK) -- Toys 'R' Us has announced it's pulled Breaking Bad action figures from its stores and its website, after an online petition garnered national attention.

The toy store chain confirmed Tuesday on Twitter, "Let's just say, the action figures have taken an 'indefinite sabbatical.'"

The decision comes in response to a Change.org petition from Florida mom Susan Schrivjer, who argued that the Breaking Bad action figures were "a dangerous deviation" from the chain's "family friendly values."  The petition has accumulated more than 88 hundred signatures.

The figures of Breaking Bad characters Walter White and Jesse Pinkman have a detachable bag of cash and a bag of methamphetamines.

Bryan Cranston, who won multiple Emmys for his role as meth dealer White on the AMC drama, cracked a joke on Twitter earlier this week about the petition. He wrote, "'Florida mom petitions against Toys 'R' Us over Breaking Bad action figures.' I'm so mad, I'm burning my Florida Mom action figure in protest."

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Many Rush Through New Health Insurance Selection


Daniel Aguilar/Getty Images(MANHATTAN, Kan.) -- It might only take 15 minutes to save money on car insurance, as one commercial states, but people ought to spend more time than that selecting health insurance.

However, Kansas State University community health specialist Roberta Riportella says the sad truth is that people actually do only spend about 15 minutes picking a plan when open enrollment comes around at their place of work.

Riportella muses that Americans will expend a lot more energy picking out a new TV.

One trap that many people often fall into, according to Riportella, is just going with the same health insurance plan year after year without taking into consideration changes in network providers, cost-sharing and deductibles.

That’s why it’s important to sit down and read everything and have a worksheet handy to help you pick out the most cost-effective plan.

One rule of thumb: always know your average annual health care costs before plunging head-first into something that might result in needless expense.


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NHTSA Expands Faulty Air Bag Warning to 6.1 Million Vehicles


bizoo_n/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration updated its list of vehicles being recalled due to defective air bags on Tuesday.

The agency had announced the recall of about 4.7 million vehicles on Monday, a figure that was expanded to about 6.1 million in a Tuesday release. The recall impacts vehicles made by BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota, all of which used air bags manufactured by Takata Corporation.

As with Monday's announcement, the NHTSA urges particular caution for those drivers who own impacted cars in warm and/or humid environments.

A full list of impacted makes and models can be found on the NHTSA's Safercar.gov website.

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Wall Street Posts Gains Again, US Existing Home Sales Rise


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The markets rose again on Tuesday, marking the third straight day of gains after a difficult beginning to the month of October.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 215.14, closing at 16,614.81.

The Nasdaq jumped 103.41 to a finish of 4,419.48, while the S&P 500 gained 37.27, finishing at 1,941.28.

The National Association of Realtors said on Tuesday that existing home sales in September rose to their highest figure of the year, rebounding from a small decline in August. The organization also noted the 31st consecutive month of year-over-year gains for existing home prices.

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Small Colorado Town Runs Out of Seasonal Cereal


General Mills(FORT COLLINS, Colo.) -- A small Colorado town's grocery mystery was solved when it was discovered that a brewery had bought out boxes of a seasonal favorite to create a Halloween-themed beer.

As a result, there is a shortage of Count Chocula in Fort Collins, Colorado, where Black Bottle Brewery is using it as an ingredient in a small-batch beer.

The brewery's Cerealiously beer series has previously used cereal including Golden Grahams, Reese's Puffs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, for a "milky stout," the Coloradoan newspaper reports.

Count Chocula was sold out in a local Albertson's grocery store in Fort Collins in just two days after it received its shipment.

Black Bottle Brewery sympathized with Kristen Clark, 37, a local resident who was distraught by the cereal’s dearth. So the brewery gave her a box of it on Sunday.

Though Clark, an accountant, is a vegetarian, she makes an annual exception to eat her favorite marshmallow-laden cereal, which she said she has loved ever since she was a kid.

“To me, it’s nostalgic,” she told ABC News. “I remember commercials when I was a kid. I always loved Count Chocula.”

Clark, who usually buys three boxes when the cereal is released, said her family is sending a couple more boxes from Oregon.

Albertson's grocery store in Fort Collins says it won't be receiving any more pallets of Count Chocula, as it is a seasonal item ordered in the summer. But the other two "Monster" flavors are in stock, they said.

Count Chocula, a vampire who prefers chocolate to blood, was first introduced in 1971 with his famous tag line. Since 2009, General Mills' monster cereals, including Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Franken Berry, have only appeared in grocery stores for Halloween.

Black Bottle Brewery general manager Steve Marrick said the beer will be available on Oct. 30, and there will be future Cerealiously beers, including Lucky Charms for the next St. Patrick's Day.

"We put the cereal into a hop back so it doesn't get into the beer," Marrick told the Coloradoan. "We did it as a joke at first, but the beer turned out well."

Marrick did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

A spokesman for General Mills, Mike Siemienas, told ABC News: "We enjoy seeing people create new recipes with their favorite cereal products," and the "Monster" cereals' highest volume was during the Halloween season.

"We are hopeful that Count Chocula is still widely available at retailers throughout Colorado," he added.

If not, residents could always trek to a nearby state or even Canada, where for the first time in more than 10 years Count Chocula and Franken Berry are available at select stores.

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Staples Investigating Potential Data Breach


Staples(NEW YORK) -- Staples is in the process of investigating a potential breach of customer credit card data, the office supply chain confirmed to ABC News Tuesday.

The Massachusetts-based company said it has contacted law enforcement and is working to resolve the situation. A source told ABC News that the U.S. Secret Service is taking the lead in the investigation.

In the meantime, Staples said customers are "not responsible for any fraudulent activity on their credit cards that is reported on a timely basis."

The company disclosed the investigation after cyber security blogger Brian Krebs said banks identified a pattern of credit and debit card fraud linked to Staples stores.

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Monster Energy College Ambassador Program Under Scrutiny


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Monster Energy drinks are getting a closer look Tuesday by officials who claim the caffeinated beverage is marketed to underage students and used as an alcoholic mixer on college campuses.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has revealed emails that he says prove Monster Energy both recruits students to promote their caffeinated drinks on campus and throw parties encouraging alleged underage freshman and sophomores to mix alcohol and energy drinks.

“There are large, almost cooler-like containers that are provided with the Monster logo, wherein they mixed alcohol and Monster drinks,” Karla Sanchez, New York’s Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice, told ABC News.

Monster calls the student promoters “Collegiate Ambassadors Team” members and pays them $100 per party, a student promoter, who wished to remain anonymous, told ABC News. The student also told ABC News “ambassadors” are encouraged to take photos at parties and report on the parties in emails to the company.

According to the legal filing, a Monster employee told the ambassadors, “Yes, it is okay to show mixed drinks.”

The Attorney General also claims Monster provided free energy drinks and provided cocktail recipes while telling the ambassadors, "it’s your job to throw rowdy events and photograph the madness!"

The New York Attorney General’s office has subpoenaed documents about the collegiate program and wants to talk with the person who it believes is the organizer behind the “Collegiate Ambassador Program.”

“We have evidence, emails that demonstrate 18 year olds and 19 year olds are being approached and encouraged to drink the alcohol with caffeinated beverages,” Sanchez said.

Monster Energy denies the claims.

“Monster did nothing illegal or deceptive,” the company said in a statement to ABC News, adding that the drinks, “will continue to be marketed in an appropriate, legal, safe and responsible manner.”

Monster argues it should not have to comply with the subpoena and it is the attorney general who is crossing the legal line.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) addressed caffeinated alcoholic beverages in 2010 with a letter to four manufacturers stating that their drinks could no longer stay on the market in their current form because, "FDA does not find support for the claim that the addition of caffeine to these alcoholic beverages is 'generally recognized as safe,' which is the legal standard."

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