Private Investigators In Virginia

PI Chatter Professional Investigators in Virginia

Backwater Guards Indicted

Posted by Bill on December 6, 2008

blackwater-logoOnce again Blackwater security comes under scrutiny.  The Washington Post reports that five Blackwater security guards were indicted by a federal grand jury for a September 2007 shooting incident in which 17 Iraqi citizens were killed.  The guards worked as security contractors for the US State Department.

Read whole story Click Here

Bill Lowrance
www.lowrancelaw.com

www.informationinsightsinc.com

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FBI Warns Holiday Cyber Scammers

Posted by Bill on December 2, 2008

FBI alert

The FBI is reminding people this holiday season that cyber criminals continue to aggressively seek ways to steal money and personal information. Scammers are using several techniques to fool potential victims including sending unsolicited e-mails that contain attachments such as electronic greeting cards containing malware (malicious software), setting up spoofing websites that look like legitimate commercial sites, and unleashing phishing and vishing attacks where individuals receive e-mails asking for personal data.

“These cyber scammers will do whatever they can to steal your money and personal information this holiday season and are trying many different ways to commit these crimes. The best way to protect yourself is to report these scams to law enforcement or the Internet Crime Complaint Center, IC3,” said Shawn Henry, Assistant Director, FBI Cyber Division, Washington, D.C.  Read Story Here

Bill Lowrance

Attorney at Law
www.lowrancelaw.com

Posted in crime, FBI, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, PI Chatter, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

IRS Mileage Rates New 2009

Posted by Bill on December 2, 2008

The Internal Revenue Service issued the 2009 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2009, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 55 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 24 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

The new rates for business, medical and moving purposes are slightly lower than rates for the second half of 2008 that were raised by a special adjustment mid-year in response to a spike in gasoline prices. The rate for charitable purposes is set by law and is unchanged from 2008.

The business mileage rate was 50.5 cents in the first half of 2008 and 58.5 cents in the second half. The medical and moving rate was 19 cents in the first half and 27 cents in the second half.

The mileage rates for 2009 reflect generally higher transportation costs compared to a year ago, but the rates also factor in the recent reversal of rising gasoline prices. While gasoline is a significant factor in the mileage rate, other fixed and variable costs, such as depreciation, enter the calculation.

See Whole Story Click Here

Bill Lowrance
Attorney at Law

Lowrance Law LLC

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Attorney Sentenced To Three Years In Pellicano Case

Posted by Bill on November 25, 2008

A prominent Los Angeles attorney was sentenced Monday to three years in federal prison and fined $250,000 for conspiring with Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano to wiretap billionaire Kirk Kerkorian’s former wife.  See LA Times Story.  Christensen’s attorney argued for a sentence of confinement in Christensen’s Beverly Hills home.  Nice if you can get it.  The judge did not buy into this unique alternative sentencing, however.

Prosecutors said Christensen hired Pellicano to wiretap Kerkorian’s ex-wife, Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, who was seeking $320,000 in monthly child support for her then-4-year-old daughter, to gain an edge in the high-stakes legal battle.

Remember professional investigators do not break the law to accomplish a job.  When you hire a private investigator you should emphasize that the investigator act in a legal and appropriate manner.  You do not want to go to jail, and you do not want to be in the headlines of the Washington Post.

Bill Lowrance
Attorney & Private Investigator
Lowrance Law LLC
McLean, VA

Posted in attorneys, crime, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pitfalls When Using The Web To Find Someone

Posted by Bill on November 24, 2008

Posted by:
Ed Hruneni
VP PIAVA

When interested in finding an old friend or an associate whom you have lost contact with many people search the web and use Google among other web resources.

Often this works but then again often it leads to just frustration. The next step usually is looking on the web for free or pay services which advertized that they will locate old classmates, missing family members and loves of your past! Find anyone!

The free ones sometimes only get you on another junk mailing list, without getting anymore info than you already had. Other free sites are really not free at all, they do the check for free but then there is a cost for providing you any info they found. The cost can vary from $30 to $100.

You’re so close you go for it, and then results come in and, it’s the same info you already obtained from Google and sometimes even less. You want to complain but you notice that there are no addresses or telephone numbers listed so that you can make a complaint.  Consumer-complaint sites are loaded with complaints about these types of scams.

What could be next, try another web only company that charges up front for their services. Many people have tried this approach and many have lost chunks of money with little or no results.

Give Up? Do what you probably should have done to begin with. Find a Licensed local Private Investigation company that has the resources to obtain the information you’re looking for. Get the cost up front from a real person whom you can talk to, of which you have their name, address, and phone number.

To get access to data bases needed for this type of work, a real legit company has to be licensed, and checked out by the data base service. Information obtained needs to be analyzed by a real licensed/registered Investigator often a person with a past law enforcement background. This produces more accurate and better cross checked information. A computer geek without investigative experience who does not have the time to spend on your case (since he/she deals with volume not accuracy, and gets no additional money for providing more info) will not give you the same results.

Good luck with your future searches. Be aware there are companies like American Security Programs that will provide this type of service and only charge the customer if the information requested is obtained. No results no cost.

Ed Hruneni
VP American Security Programs
Investigative Services
www.securityprograms.com<

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

VA Law Firm Named To Top Ten List Of Names

Posted by Bill on October 30, 2008

 A Virginia law firm was named on the “Ten Law Firms Names That Make You Scratch Your Head” according to very popular The Greatest American Lawyer Blog, See GALB.  The GALB posted the names for readers to vote on the top name.

The Virginia law firm making the list is Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen of Richmond, Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen–a great firm BTW.

Other names are:

  1. Payne & Fears
  2. Low, Ball & Lynch
  3. Weiner & Cox
  4. Smart & Biggar
  5. Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, Fischer, Gilbert-Lurie, Stiffelman, Cook, Johnson, Lande & Wolf
  6. Ball & Weed
  7. Boring & Leach
  8. Bickers & Bickers
  9. Slaughter & Slaughter
  10. Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen  

Posted in attorneys, lawyers, PI Chatter, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators, Virginia | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Unpaid Parking Tickets = The Boot

Posted by Bill on October 29, 2008

  A lot of jurisdictions are using new recognition hardware and software to read license plates and compare to license plates for unpaid parking tickets or unpaid taxes.  If your license plate shows up/matches, your car gets the boot.  Read this Article

Certainly, facial recognition hardware/software from a handheld device cannot be far away.

Bill Lowrance
Attorney and Private Investigator
www.lowrancelaw.com

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

Fraud Criminals 1 FBI Fraud Investigators 0

Posted by Bill on October 21, 2008

NY Times reports that the FBI, our good friends, does not have the resources to investigate “criminal wrongdoings tied to the country’s economic crisis.”  Click Here Times Article

Notes from the article:

The bureau slashed its criminal investigative work force to expand its national security role after the Sept. 11 attacks, shifting more than 1,800 agents, or nearly one-third of all agents in criminal programs, to terrorism and intelligence duties. Current and former officials say the cutbacks have left the bureau seriously exposed in investigating areas like white-collar crime, which has taken on urgent importance in recent weeks because of the nation’s economic woes.

So depleted are the ranks of the F.B.I.’s white-collar investigators that executives in the private sector say they have had difficulty attracting the bureau’s attention in cases involving possible frauds of millions of dollars.

Since 2004, F.B.I. officials have warned that mortgage fraud posed a looming threat, and the bureau has repeatedly asked the Bush administration for more money to replenish the ranks of agents handling nonterrorism investigations, according to records and interviews. But each year, the requests have been denied, with no new agents approved for financial crimes, as policy makers focused on counterterrorism.

Bill Lowrance
www.lowrancelaw.com
Attorney & Private Investigator

Posted in crime, FBI, fraud, Investigations, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

100 Top Websites For Everything

Posted by Bill on October 6, 2008

 Great organized information resource from PC World.  If you want to know something, learn about something, find people, search public records or almost anything informational check out this good resource.  Click Here

Bill Lowrance www.lowrancelaw.com

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

Offshore Accounts Tax Evasion and The IRS

Posted by Bill on October 5, 2008

 How much money do you have in your offshore bank account?  That’s right.  Some people attempt to hide money and other assets in foreign countries–out of the US and, supposedly, hidden from the IRS.

Many private investigators and attorneys search for hidden, offshore accounts.  Sometimes the money or other assets are hidden from a spouse in preparatin for a divorce.  Sometimes money is shuffled offshore to evade taxes.  Tax evasion is a federal crime, as we all know.  It is even a felony, too. 

Helio Castroneves, a U.S. resident and two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, was recently indicted by a grand jury  on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States of income taxes and with six separate counts of income tax evasion for tax years 1999 through 2004.  

His sister and business manager, Katiucia Castroneves of Miami, and his attorney, Alan R. Miller of Michigan were also indicted.  The crime, using an offshore Panamanian shell corporation to fraudulently conceal income received from business deals.  Helio Castroneves received $6,000,000 in a three year contract, kicked back $5.4 million, kept $600,000 and only reported $50,000 on his federal income tax returns.  Well, with that the IRS and the US Justice Department got busy.

In another scheme, like one was not enough, the three defendants hid $5,000,000 in an offshore “deferred royalty plan.”  It is a complicated scheme, legal under certain circumstances, but not legal in the way these three carried out the scheme.  The bottom line is that Helio earned the $5,000,000, allegedly lied about his control over the money and did not report any of the money as income.  Well, the IRS jumped on that one too.

Take note of the governments statement on this story:

“Taxpayers, small and large, famous and not famous, should be aware of the enormously severe consequences they face if they fraudulently use offshore accounts to hide income, including potentially going to prison, paying back all their taxes plus interest and penalties, and being branded a felon for the rest of their lives,” said Nathan J. Hochman, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. 

“Whether one makes a living parking cars or racing them, paying taxes is a responsibility that everyone shares. Our tax laws apply equally to everyone, regardless of status, class and income, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will prosecute these cases vigorously,” said U.S. Attorney Acosta.

Hey, read the whole story: Click Here

But, remember to play straight with income and paying taxes.  You do not want the IRS and/or the US Justice Department involved in your life.

Bill Lowrance
Tax Attorney
 Lowrance Law LLC

Posted in attorneys, crime, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

PI Continuing Education

Posted by Bill on September 29, 2008

Ed Hruneni, VP of PIAVA, and VP of Investigative Services, American Security Programs, www.securityprograms.com, Dulles, VA, contacted me today advising that he is sponsering a great continuing education program for private investigators.  On Saturday, October 11, 2008, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., American Security Programs will present a “Financial Fraud” seminar.  The cost is $35.  Topics will include mortgage fraud and other common fraud schemes.  You will learn about interviewing real estate professionals, buyers, sellers, loan officers and real estate appraisers.

The good news is that the speaker is Bill Stollhans who is the former Chief Financial Officer of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as well former Assistant Director.  Mr. Stollhans is now a licensed private investigation business owner.  His company is Potomac Investigative Services LLC.  Mr. Stollhans has over 30 years of experience in law enforcement and investigations.  Mr. Stollhans is a member of PIAVA and is the past president.

Read all about the program financialfraud here.  If you need continuing education as a private investigator, don’t miss this.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA www.piava.org

Posted in fraud, Investigations, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Kroll Investigating Hollywood?

Posted by Bill on September 28, 2008

Michael Thomas at Daily Caveat, reports that Jossip.com reports Kroll is at it again.

  Kroll is a world leader investigative group.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA http://www.piava.org

Posted in Investigations, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Human Mystery From 1920

Posted by Bill on September 28, 2008

The Virginia Lawyers Weekly, VLW Blog,recently reported on this story that orginated from the Roanoke Times.

The great, Mountain Lake, in Giles County, VA, recently revealed human remains dating from the 1920s.  The lake has dried and receded somewhat.  Last Saturday, Timmy Dalton and his son Chris were walking the dried area of the lake looking for old bottles and other treasures.  Instead of treasure, they found human bones along with a belt buckle, a 1910 dime, a tooth and shoes. 

Read about this interesting mystery: Roanoke Times and Here

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA www.piava.org

Posted in crime, Investigations, law enforcement, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Warnings About Facebook

Posted by Bill on September 28, 2008

From the Washington Post: Brian Krebs Security Article

Fake Facebook ‘Add Friends’ E-Mail Adds Malware

Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpacegive scam artists and virus writers new ways to package tried-but-true tricks. The latest example of this making the rounds is an e-mail that appears to be an invitation from Facebook to add a friend: A recipient who opens an attached image to take a look at their new friend instead opens the door for hackers to compromise his PC.

Better watch out for phony Facebook mail.  As usual, do not open and attachment.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA www.piava.org

Posted in computer forensics, Investigations, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Texas Taxpayers Hurricane Ike And IRS Tax Relief

Posted by Bill on September 25, 2008

IRS allows Hurricane Ike Texas residents a break on tax return filing, tax payments and other time sensitive acts due on or before September 7, 2008 and before January 5, 2009. 

 

Specifically, the relief postpones until January 5, 2009, certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. The postponement applies to return filing, tax payment and certain other time-sensitive acts due on or after September 7, 2008, and before January 5, 2009 –– including individual estimated tax returns and corporate tax returns that were due September 15, and extended individual returns due Oct. 15.

 

In addition, the IRS will waive the failure to deposit penalties for employment and excise deposits due on or after September 7 and before September 22, 2008, as long as the deposits are made on or before September 22.

 

Following the hurricane’s landfall on Saturday, September 13, the federal government declared the following Texas counties a presidential disaster area qualifying for individual assistance: Angelina, Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Cherokee, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Trinity, Tyler, Walker, Waller and Washington.

 

“We are giving taxpayers in these hard-hit areas until early next year to file their returns and make payments,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “All Americans have concerns for those affected by this devastating hurricane, and our hope is that this extra time will allow people to stay focused on the rebuilding and clean-up effort.”

 

Read whole IRS article for further information about covered area, covered taxpayers, types of relief and about casualty losses.

 

Read Here

 

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA www.piava.org

 

 

 

 

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“Girls Gone Wild” Guy + IRS = Al Capone?

Posted by Bill on September 1, 2008

 Great LA Times story:

Classic defense —- “My Accountant Made Me Do It”

LOS ANGELES — As founder of the “Girls Gone Wild” franchise, Joe Francis has often been accused of duping women into doing things they wish they had not, especially baring their breasts in front of a video camera.

 

This time, it is Mr. Francis who says he was fooled — not by a cameraman, but by his accountant.

 

This guy faces trial on tax charges, says the LA Times, something like $20,000,000 dedcuted on his corporate tax returns—fraudulent they say.

 

Oh well, $20 mill here $20 mill there . . . . . .

 

The veracity of his claim is likely to be decided in September, when Mr. Francis will be tried in Los Angeles on federal charges that he deducted $20 million in fraudulent expenses on the corporate tax returns filed by his company, Mantra Films.

If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

Read whole story:  Click Here<

Bill Lowrance
President PIAVA www.piava.org

Posted in crime, fraud, Investigations, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

SEC Edgar No More

Posted by Bill on September 1, 2008

SEC Announces Successor to EDGAR Database“IDEA” Will Make Company and Fund Information Interactive

Washington, D.C., Aug. 19, 2008 — Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox today unveiled the successor to the agency’s 1980s-era EDGAR database, which will give investors far faster and easier access to key financial information about public companies and mutual funds.

Read whole story:  Click Here

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA www.piava.org

Posted in Investigations, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators, Public Records, Research | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

US Federal Courts Redact Information

Posted by Bill on September 1, 2008

From The Third Branch Newsletter of the Federal Courts:
Read whole story:  Click Here

To protect the privacy of litigants, the Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure require that certain personal data identifiers be modified or partially redacted from federal court case files. These identifiers are Social Security numbers, dates of birth, financial account numbers, and names of minor children, and in criminal cases, also home addresses.

But redaction, once a matter of drawing a heavy black line through the words on paper, has changed with the electronic filing of documents. A black bar drawn over the text is no longer enough to block it from view. In an electronic file, the obscured text still lurks beneath the highlighter box and can be readily recalled. The text is hidden, not excised.

Attorneys filing pleadings recently in a Connecticut case learned that lesson the hard way. They created black boxes to cover text they wished to redact. Unfortunately, simply pasting the text into a Word file revealed the hidden information. Changing the text color to white so it disappears against the white screen/paper is similarly ineffective.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA, www.piava.org

Posted in attorneys, Investigations, lawyers, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators, Public Records, Research | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Pellicano Convicted–Again But Lawyer Too

Posted by Bill on August 31, 2008

 Boring and old news from Los Angeles that former, big time, investigator Anthony Pellicano was convicted again for illegal acts.  But, this time one of his clients (lawyer Terry Christensen) was convicted.  I guess he can say good bye to his Bar license. 

From the LA Times:

“A well-known California lawyer was convicted today in a federal wiretapping conspiracy case, due to his legal work for a billionaire client.

Terry Christensen conspired with private investigator Anthony Pellicano to wiretap billionaire Kirk Kerkorian’s ex-wife during a bitter child custody dispute, a federal jury in downtown Los Angeles found.” Read story Click Here

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, crime, Investigations, lawyers, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

GPS–New Surveillance Technique For Police

Posted by Bill on August 13, 2008

In a recent post we pointed out the Arlington County, VA, judge who ruled that the police using a GPS unit to track a person did not need to apply for a search warrant.  The police can just attach a GPS unit on a car and sit back to track a person’s movements in the automobile.

Today’s Washington Post has an excellent article on law enforcement’s use of GPS to track suspects.  Interestingly, the jurisdictions in the DC metro area use GPS units often.  Hey, it beats having to plan and carry out a physical, moving surveillance.  Think about it, though, do we want law enforcement to put a GPS unit on our automobile and track our movements?  Is there any protocol for police to follow before using the GPS?  Will the use of GPS devices be abused by law enforcement? 

Read this Post article: Click Here

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

www.piava.org

Posted in attorneys, crime, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators, surveillance | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »