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Archive for the ‘Links’ Category

New and Revised Competitive Intelligence Resources–2009

Posted by Bill on October 19, 2009

From Be Spacific, news about Sabrina I. Pacifici’s “Competitive Intelligence – A Selective Resource Guide – Updated and Revised October 2009” research “master tool” to learn about companies, people and other things via free/lowcosts Internet sites. This is the “best of list” of the Internet. Great links, great research tools. See LLRX CIGuide 

Great investigative resource. Check it out.

Bill Lowrance

Lowrance Law LLC and Information Insights Inc

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Blog Roll and Links

Posted by Bill on December 23, 2008

computer-thumb.jpgWe have a lot of good links in the left column.  I added AltSearchEngines to the blog roll today.  Check out AltSearchEngine when you want to know the latest, newest, specialized and unique search engines out in the web.

Charles Knight, AltSearchEngine guy, says:  “Our goal for AltSearchEngines is to make it the definitive destination for everything related to alternative search engines – over 1,000 of them!Our motto: “The most wonderful search engines you’ve never seen.”

AltSearchEngines is edited by Charles Knight, a respected industry analyst and reformed SEO from Charlottesville, Virginia.

Bill Lowrance

Posted in Investigations, Links, PI Chatter, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators, Research, Virginia | Leave a Comment »

Sanguine Sunday Shake Down–Geek Tech

Posted by Bill on December 2, 2007

There are some real quirky items to post today.  Jim Calloway is the Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Program. He publishes the blog Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips, and he is an expert at technology for busy people who operate on the tech edge–like our PIAVA members.  Over at Jim Calloways Blog, Jim’s Blog is the unique “tech toy” gift guide made to put busy attorneys and private investigators on the “tech edge.”  Many of these gifts give you that certain mobility needed for “out of the office” tasks.  Jim teams with Sharon Nelson, Fairfax, VA, tech attorney expert who with her partner, John W. Simek, owns and operates Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a computer forensics and legal technology corporation based in Fairfax, VA, to give a podcast at Digital Edge about the best “Tech Toys for the Holidays.”

Jim and Sharon give a list of some of their favorites items–must haves.  For example, there is the unique charger, 

WildCharge–a wire-free charging device 
Wildcharge

WildCharge

 and then there is the USB Missle Launcher at Missle.  You can set this up on your desk, connect the USB wire to your computer and you are ready to launch.

Missle Launcher

There is the Power Monkey Travel Charger for portable devices like your cell phone.  Use this when your device is battery dead and you have no charging outlet.  At  Power Monkey

Power Monkey

There are plenty of other unique mobile and stationary “geek gifts” at Jim and Sharon’s Digital Edge.  Some of these items will make your investigative career leap ahead of the future.

Until we meet again,

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

Posted in Investigations, Links, PI Chatter, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Want Information About Who Has Federal Contract?

Posted by Bill on November 30, 2007

 I was reading one of my favorite Blogs–  beSpacific, written by Sabrina I. Pacifici who is an active member of the online legal community.  Sabrina writes about law and technology news and information.   Read her Blog to really know what is happening in legal news and technology. 

She wrote about new version of the OMB’s FedSpending.org Web site, now see USA Spending.  This is a free, searchable database of approximately $16.8 trillion in federal government spending, with complete annual data from FY 2000 through FY 2006 and partial data available for FY 2007.   The new version Sabrina writes about is better in that it allows more powerful searches of federal contracts and grants. 

This database could be very helpful to all private investigators or just curious investigators.  Find out whether a company or individual may have a federal contract.

Thanks, Sabrina.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

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Virginia Identity Theft

Posted by Bill on November 28, 2007

Virginia’s Attorney General Bob McDonnel has a good outline and FAQ on identity theft issues in Virginia. 

From the AG’s site:

In Virginia, identity theft is a serious crime.  Currently, an identity thief whose crime results in financial loss up to $200 faces a misdemeanor conviction and confinement for not more than 12 months and/or a maximum fine of $2,500.  An identity thief whose crime results in financial loss greater than $200, faces a felony conviction and a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than five years.  For more details, please refer to §18.2-186.3 of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended. 

 See the whole site: VA Attorney General ID Theft

The Fairfax County, VA, Police have further information too, Fairfax Police

Also, check The Consumer Law Group, Richmond, VA, at  Consumer Law Group

The Washington Post has an excellent section on its website about identity theft and ways to protect your identity and personal information.  See Washington Post ID Theft 

Meanwhile, hold tight to your personal information.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

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Federal Trade Commission–Identity Theft Study

Posted by Bill on November 28, 2007

FTC Releases Survey of Identity Theft in the U.S. Study Shows 8.3 Million Victims in 2005

The Federal Trade Commission today released a survey showing that 8.3 million American adults, or 3.7 percent of all American adults, were victims of identity theft in 2005. Of the victims, 3.2 million, or 1.4 percent of all adults, experienced misuse of their existing credit card accounts; 3.3 million, or 1.5 percent, experienced misuse of non-credit card accounts; and 1.8 million victims, or 0.8 percent, found that new accounts were opened or other frauds were committed using their personal identifying information.

See full text of news release and download a copy of the report:

FTC ID Theft

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

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U-VA Students Snatch Guy–Use Victim’s Cell to Demand Ransom–Doh!

Posted by Bill on November 27, 2007

The Washington Post, Washington Post, reported today that an unusual kidnapping occurred not far from my location.  Two University of Virginia students snatched a man off a street corner in the Tysons Corner area in McLean, VA, took him to a Falls Church, VA motel, tied him up, put him in the bathroom and, then, demanded a $500,000 ransom.  Now, the two “Einsteins,” second year engineering students at U-VA, used the victim’s cell phone to call in the ransom!  Well, surprise, surprise, the police and the FBI were able to pinpoint the motel’s location after AT&T provided an approximate location in Falls Church as the origin of the calls. 

The Fairfax Police and the FBI staked out the motel and spotted two men going in and out of a room there. When an officer and an FBI agent knocked on the door, they were allowed into the room and found the victim bound and gagged with duct tape in the bathtub.  See whole story here: Article  

Now it is clear to me that the two U-VA students have not been reading the newspapers lately or watching CSI-Miami or the Crime Channel Discovery Channel.  Had the two “Einsteins” read a recent article in the Washington Post, Article they would know that “Federal officials are routinely asking courts to order cellphone companies to furnish real-time tracking data so they can pinpoint the whereabouts of drug traffickers, fugitives and other criminal suspects, according to judges and industry lawyers.”  There, there, those U-VA students should have known better than use the victim’s cell phone to call in the ransom.  Shame on our educational system.

Constitutional Issues? 

Cell Phone Tracking 

So, a real constitutional question has arisen as to whether the government has to have a court authorized search warrant to do the cell phone tracking.  According to the story above, some judges are issuing warrants and others refuse to do so.   Oh, I better save this topic for another post.

IRS Collect Internet Personal Data 

An additional future post may be about the proposal in the president’s 2008 budget that would require Internet businesses like eBay and Amazon.com to collect personal data on their customers and share it with the Internal Revenue Service. 

The move is part of an effort by the U.S. Treasury Department to track down unreported small business income generated by the sale of personal property on such sites. Under the proposal, online “brokers” would be required to file income statements for all customers who use their sites to conduct 100 or more separate transactions that generate US$5,000 or more per year.  Oh brother, help me, see IRS.  I will take this up another time.

Until then, keep “askin” questions,

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

Posted in Investigations, Links, PI Chatter, PIAVA, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Some State Court Records are Online

Posted by Bill on November 26, 2007

 Court Records Going Online

The International Falls Daily Journal reports that the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s Web site at Minnesota Judicial allows viewers to search criminal, civil, family and probate cases, as well as check court calendars.  For full story see Daily Journal.   As we all know and as a court clerk stated in the story that “the Web accessible information should not take the place of regular criminal history checks for some purposes.”  “We can’t guarantee 100 percent that this will give up all of anyone’s criminal history,” she said.

Texas

The American Statesman reports that Travis County, TX, leads the state in having fully electronic records.  Travis County recently filed, electronically, its 20,000th court case and scanned and stored its millionth page and collected its millionth dollar in electronic filing fees.  See full story Statesman.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

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Misty Monday’s Miscellaneous Information

Posted by Bill on November 26, 2007

It is a misty Monday in the Northern Virginia area with slight rain drizzling down. 

So, we are posting various points of information from various record sources. 

Bad E-Mail 

One of PIAVA’s members, Ron McKown of Eidolon Group, Merrifield, VA, advised us of reports that a new malware is spreading via e-mail.  The e-mail claims to be from a private investigator saying that a private investigator has been recording the recipients telephone conversations.  An audio file is attached.  Of course, if the recipient opens the audio file the computer is immediately infected.   The subject of such “phony” e-mails may include “I am monitoring you,” “you are being watched,” etc.  Do not open such an e-mail unless you know it is legitimate. 

Neat Sites 

Many private investigators are small to medium sized operations.  A new website focused on the technology needs of such businesses is at bMighty.  There is a lot of tech information there for small businesses.  Take a look.  One note on bmighty the information on how to go to Gethuman to bypass the boring customer and tech support recordings.  The site lists over 500 companies.

PC Magazine, PC Mag, has come out with its “Best and Worst” list for 2007 — Best Worst.  Hey, laptops, desktops, mobile phones–all that stuff, the worst and “worser”.  In an earlier issue, PC Mag gave out the Top 100 Classic Websites — Classic and the Top 100 Undiscovered Websites — Undiscovered.

 Public Records

A good site to check corporate registrations is Registered Agents.  Further a good organized site for finding public record sites is Public Records.

Question for Readers

Many of PIAVA members have excellent private investigation firms.  Would readers of this blog find it convenient we listed the PIAVA member’s company?  Let me know either by e-mail or comment.

Meanwhile, so long for today and keep “askin” questions.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president at piava dot org

Posted in Investigations, Links, Members, PIAVA, private investigators, Public Records | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tech Notes–Master the Internet, Search Some Stuff

Posted by Bill on November 24, 2007

Great searches:

Want to search Yahoo and Google at the same time?  Twingine

Metasearch sites:  Clusty, Teoma, Dogpile

Need certain audio?  Findsounds

Want to see that old Internet Web page:  Archive

Newspapers, magazines and television stations worldwide:  Newsdirectory

Need to find that certain grave site:  Findagrave

Gotta find the embassies from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe:  Embassy World

Hey, another day, another PIAVA resource

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

Posted in Investigations, Links, PIAVA, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tech Notes–Master the Internet

Posted by Bill on November 22, 2007

Most private investigators use state of the art technology in their business operations–from fast computers to digital audio and video equipment.  Communications with clients is probably the most important customer service aspects of a business whether it is investigations or selling widgets.  E-mail and the Internet, together, can instantaneously make available to your client written reports, photographs, video and large document files.  You can e-mail your client and attach your report as Word document or PDF file.  PDF is preferred because of document security.  But, what about the 50 MB of digital photographs that are important to your client?  E-mail often limits the size of attachments.  Google limits attachments to 20 MB, but that is generous compared to other e-mail systems.  

There are several Internet sites that allow you to upload large files that can be accessed and downloaded by your client.  If you need to send a client a large file or document as an attachment to e-mail, here are some tools.  Yousendit.com is a site that allows you upload large files, notifies the client the files are there and allows the client to download the file.  You Send It is really a neat tool.  Other sites are also available— sendthisfile.com and dropsend.com.  Take a look at box.net too.

In other news, Google announced a new search engine a couple of months ago–try it at searchmash flash.  It is different and has a lot of features.  Also, for our good health after TG, check out pdrhealth for health care information, drug and supplement information and other health related issues. The site is run by the same people who publish the Physician Desk Reference.

 Until another day, keep “askin” questions,

 Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

Posted in Links, Members, PIAVA, private investigations, private investigators, Research | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Phony Professionals

Posted by Bill on November 21, 2007

Yesterday I wrote about the fallacy of the “national criminal background check.”  Today, I am reminded of the importance of an investigation speciality–the background investigation.  Two recent news items caught my attention, and I knew I had a topic for today’s “nooziness” (meaning news worthy–new word with help of Cobert– Colbert) post.  Two articles appeared today in the news media about two individuals who were charged with impersonating a lawyer and unlicensed practice of law.  In other words, these individual held themselves out to be licensed attorneys, gained the confidence of “clients,” received money and all the time neither was licensed to practice law in their jurisdiction.  Some of the supposedly clients were fairly sophisticated business people, but they did not check their “lawyers” background to determine if he was licensed to practice law in that jurisdiction. 

Of course, those stories reminded me of the importance of background investigations when you hire someone whether it is a professional like a doctor or lawyer or the person that knocks on your door wanting to trim your trees or cut your lawn or remodel your house.  Before you give your money to people for a job or investment, you should check their credentials.  In today’s Internet world there are on-line sources to do a quick license verification on an individual. 

Most people can conduct this type of background investigation on their own adding to it a Google search, Google, Better Business Bureau check, BBB, or local jurisdiction consumer complaint agency, Fairfax County plus much more.  For example, the “clients” of the alleged attorneys could easily check to determine if the attorney is licensed by going to the State Bar Association web site and searching the name in the licensed attorney list.  If an attorney is practicing in a jurisdiction, they must belong to the State Bar Association.  The American Bar Association has a complete list of the state bar associations– see State Bar Associations.  From there you can click on the state bar association and see if a person is licensed in that state.  To check on a doctor, you can go to Doc Finder or the American Medical Association’s Doctor Finder site– AMA.

There is so much more the conducting proper background investigations that I could write a book for “dummies.”  But, if you have an important transaction, business or personal, and you need a thorough background investigation, you should consider hiring a private investigator.  Of course, check on the private investigator’s license in you jurisdiction first. 

In future posts  I will reveal more background investigation techniques and resources. 

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

Posted in Investigations, Links, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Research | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Hampton Road Property Transfers

Posted by Bill on November 16, 2007

The Daily Press, Daily Press, put up information about Hampton Roads property transfers.  “Wondering how much your neighbors sold their house for? Want to know if you’re paying a fair price for your new home? Welcome to the Daily Press’ property transfers database, the only place online where you can see exactly how much local real estate has sold for.”  This is a unique property search site.  You click on a map where you are interested in property sales.  The map tells you how many sales there were and then you can click on each sale to get the property information like seller, buyer, price etc.  See site below:

 Property

 Keep askin questions,

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

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Looking for the Incommunicado Incarcerated–VINE?

Posted by Bill on November 13, 2007

Have you ever wanted to know where a felon or arrested person is located—in jail, the “Big House.”  Now you have a national source to start your search.   

Check it out here:  Vinelink.  You can click on the individual state to look up an arrestee custody records. 

 For Virginia:

See VA Vinelink 

an on-line resource that allows you to search for information regarding current custody status of inmates serving sentences in Virginia local and regional jails and the Virginia Department of Corrections.  Local and regional jails will provide automated notification when an offender is released, transferred, or escapes.  Virginia Department of corrections will provide automated notification when an offender is released, transferred, escapes, dies, or has a parole based event.

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Why a Blog & What is it?

Posted by Bill on November 5, 2007

 So, now the PIAVA Blog is up and running on a semi-steady basis.  I’ve had some questions about “Why a Blog,?” “What do we do with it?” “How does it work?” 

Blogging has been the rage of the Internet for the last few years.  Many businesses, law firms, private investigator businesses, publications and other organizations put up Blogs on the Internet.  A Blog is an informal web page, really.  It is a “newsy” device that can be updated every day or at anytime with information.  The PIAVA Blog is primarily for PIAVA members, but it is open to viewing by anyone who finds the site.  Each written item on the main page is a post.  The posts are arranged chronologically.  The posts are meant to give you news about the investigation industry, investigative techniques, research sites and anything of interest to private investigators.  The neat thing about a Blog is that you can expand it by adding new pages, post information anytime, and readers can post comments.  Just click on the comment link.  Add a comment and let us know what you think about the new PIAVA Blog.

On the left side of the page is the “Blogroll.”  This Blogroll is a group of links to other Blogs or other web sites that are useful to private investigators.  We plan on adding more research links in the future. 

I invite PIAVA members to contact me about writing a post for the Blog.  You can write about your business or an interesting case or a technical aspect of conducting investigations.  Also, in the future, we will post member profiles giving information about the member and their business. 

And now for an investigative tip:  I recently had to gather some background on an alleged charitable organization.  The organization claimed to be tax exempt, called a 501(c)(3) pursuant to Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3),  meaning that your donation to the group is deductable on your tax return.  To be tax exempt an organization has to apply to the IRS for the tax exempt status.  To start research on the group go to www.irs.com, click on “Charities” at the top.  Then on the next page click on “Search for Charities” in the left column.  You search by the organizations name.  You can also search for the group at www.guidestar.com and www.foundationcenter.org.  At each site you can get the latest tax return filed by the organization.  The return is public information and you learn a lot about the income, expenses and officers. 

Until the next time, keep on asking questions.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in Investigations, Links, Members, PIAVA, Research | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »