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Competitive Intelligence Update July 2012

Posted by Bill on August 26, 2012

One of the most popular sites for many investigators, attorneys and researchers is Sabrina I. Pacifici’s fantastic Competitive Intelligence site. See Competitive Intelligence Update July 2012

Sabrina I. Pacifici is Founder, Editor, Publisher of LLRX.Com; (established in 1996), the free web journal consistently recognized as a publisher of comprehensive, meticulously documented, non-partisan guides and content-rich resources, commentary and actionable information on Internet research and web-related current awareness issues invaluable to legal, academic, corporate, government and public interest researchers. LLRX  is a great site to keep up with all the latest in legal and technology resources.

Good reading and keep investigating.

Bill Lowrance
Lowrance Law LLC
Attorney, Investigator and Legal Consultant


Posted in attorneys, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, private investigations, private investigator, Research | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Need To Find Someone? Webinar On Finding People March 4 Noon

Posted by Bill on February 21, 2008

website.jpg  Free Webinar on Finding People Information

Donna Fryer, who has been intricately involved in the information research industry for almost 20 years, is offering a free webinar titled Finding People Information: Free Sources and Web 2.0.  Research projects, business development, sales calls, recruiting and often  due diligence requires quick research on individuals.  The webinar explores free, quick sources and Web 2.0 sources.Title: “Finding People Information: Free Sources and Web 2.0”
Date:  Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Time:  12:00 PM – 12:30 PM EST  Register now by clicking the link below:
Register Here

For more on Donna and her company visit

I have spoken with Donna and she knows what she is talking about.  She has lots of experience in research and digging out the “hard to find” information everyone so desperately wants.

Learn from the best.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc.
McLean, VA


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

Ask Bill! A Great Legal Research & Reference Site

Posted by Bill on February 21, 2008

justice.jpg  Thanks to AbsTacked for calling attention to Ask Bil, the great site with the great name:

“Ask Bill!” See Best Internet Law Library

Ask Bill provides links to legal information on the Internet for legal researchers in the Seventh Circuit and elsewhere–suitable for finding legal stuff.  The sites have been reviewed, selected and annotated.  Official government sites have been selected wherever possible.

Good site.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc.
McLean, VA

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

Super Search Engine–Visual, Intuitive–Try It

Posted by Bill on February 20, 2008

internt.jpg  Need another search engine?  I always use several search engines in researching a case.  All have unique search capabilities.  Quintura is interesting and entertianing in that you have visual interaction.  Try it out. Click Here

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc.
McLean, VA

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

US Case Law–Ever Need To Find A Court Opinion?

Posted by Bill on February 20, 2008

justice.jpg  Ever need to research the “law?”  Go Public Libray of Law. This is a great place to research case law in various courts in the US.  Another law search engine I just discovered is I have not looked at this s/e as much as others, but try it our and let me know if it works.  See also, Cleveland Marshall College of Law More Legal Research Sites

From the site:

“Searching the Web is easy.  Why should searching the law be any different? That’s why Fastcase has created the Public Library of Law — to make it easy to find the law online. PLoL is the largest free law library in the world, because we assemble law available for free scattered across many different sites — all in one place. PLoL is the best starting place to find law on the Web.

What is available on PLoL?
Cases from the U.S. Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals
Cases from all 50 states back to 1997
Federal statutory law and codes from all 50 states
Regulations, court rules, constitutions, and more!”

Good searching to you.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc.

McLean, VA

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

Criminal Defense Investigations

Posted by Bill on January 27, 2008

justice   Everything you want to know about criminal defense investigations: Click Here for whole article.

Author:  Ken Strutin an experienced law librarian, criminal defense attorney, and well-known writer and speaker.

Also check the excellent site of the DC Public Defender Here.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc.

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

FTC SSN Workshop Now Available Webcast–Watch It!

Posted by Bill on December 11, 2007

You can see and listen to the entire SSN Workshop discussions via webcast FTC Webcast here.

I was not able to attend today’s session, but it was reported to me that some speakers were very outspoken against the private investigation industry.  Perhaps, these people never needed the assistance of an attorney or private investigator, but they may change their outlook when and if a situation arises and they need help.  For example, if a person is indicted or charged with a crime, they need an attorney to help them defend themselves, unless, of course, they are in their own right a super lawyer.  Facts are needed in defending a criminal case.  The prosecutor has the facts and has a legion of FBI or IRS agents, along with a grand jury, to gather more facts.  What does the defense attorney have to assist the client?  Sometimes it is a hired “private investigator.”  I have worked on criminal defense cases, and the gathering of facts is the primary objective of many cases.  Sometimes, as a private investigator, you find the one witness who will testify for the defendant and, possibly, contribute to a “not guilty” verdict.  To deny private investigators and/or attorneys access to information to prepare a criminal defense case is certainly open to an immediate constitutional challenge.  I believe it has somehthing to do with “due process” and “right to fair trials” etc.  Of course, these mere constitutional values may be overlooked in denying defense investigators and defense attorneys the right to access needed identifying information to find witnesses or challenge prosecution witnesses.

But, I digress.  I did not intend to write a summary of today’s FTC workshop.  I will do that tomorrow after watching the webcast.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, crime, FBI, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Private Investigators Indicted for Pretext Fraud–Lawyers Probed in Pretext Theft

Posted by Bill on December 7, 2007

Ten private investigators were indicted on December 5, 2007,in Seattle, WA, by the U.S. Attorney’s office.  The ten are:

Emilio A. Torrella, Brandy Torrella, both from Belfair, WA. BNT Investigations, Steven W. Berwik, Belfair, WA, BNT Investigations, Victoria J. Tade, C.I. Inc., San Diego, CA,  Megan M. Ososke, P.I. & Information Services, Beaverton, OR, Robert Grieve and Ziad N. Sakhleh, Robert Grieve International, Houston, TX,  Patrick A. Bombino and Esaun G. Pinto , AAA Allstate Investigations, Brooklyn, NY, and Darci P. Templeton, Houston, TX.  They were charged with Conspiracy to Defraud, Wire Fraud, Fraudulent Elicitation of Social Security Administration Information, Solicitation of Federal Tax Information, and Aggravated Identity Theft–see the Pretext Indictment Dec. 2007.

The ABA Journal Law News reports that the investigation may involve lawyers across the country as many businesses and lawyers hired BNT Investigations to obtain confidential information by pretext.  BNT Investigations obtain confidential information for as many as 12,000 individuals involved in bankruptcies, law suits, divorces and collection efforts.  BNT services were utilized by attorneys, insurance companies and collection companies to investigate the backgrounds of opposing parties and witnesses, and to uncover assets or income for satisfaction of debts, according to the indictment. See Aba Journal. See other stories Seattle Times

The alleged defendants collected information via pretext from the I.R.S., Social Security Administration, various State Unemployment Insurance Departments, private financial institutions, banks, pharmacies and hospitals.  The alleged defendants fraudulently posed as the individuals about who information was sought. 

Particularly disturbing to me is the pretexting of the I.R.S., Social Security Administration and medical facilities.  Clearly obtaining confidential information from the entities is protected by specific laws.  I advise that readers look over the indictment carefully.  Professional investigators do not violate the law to obtain information, and that should be clearly explained to every potential client.  The alleged defendants, the indictment reads, collected federal tax return information (clearly confidential), Federal employment tax records, bank account information, employment earnings from Social Security, prescription and medical information.

If attorneys or other professional investigators used such pretexting methods to collect such information for their cases, there may be serious criminal, professional and ethical implications.  Gathering such information is not worth your license to practice your profession whether you are a professional investigator or an attorney in private practice.

Keep your professions legal and honorable.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Vick’s Dogs

Posted by Bill on December 6, 2007

As a follow up to the previous post about animal law and suspended NFL star Michael Vick, it is reported today that the U.S. Attorney filed a motion with the court requesting that the 47 animals seized from Vick be placed with rescue organizations.  Rebecca J. Huss, animal law expert from Vallparaiso University School of Law, Rhuss gave her completed summary report to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia on Tuesday.  See story Chronicle Telegram.

Bill Lowrance
President PIAVA

Posted in animal law, attorneys, cuelty, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Federal Courts Limit Case Information

Posted by Bill on December 6, 2007

 New Onerous Court Rules

With new rules providing privacy protection for case files posted on-line in the federal district, bankruptcy and appellate courts which are effective December 1, 2007, identifying specific persons subject of a federal case will be more difficult.  The new rules limit personal identifying data of a party to the case whether it is a civil, criminal or bankruptcy case.  The new rules were proposed by the Judicial Conference in accordance with the E-Government Act of 2002, which requires that each court make publicly available on-line any document filed electronically. The rules require parties to redact certain personal information from each filing.  The Supreme Court came up with the new rules to “protect privacy and security concerns related to electronic filing of documents and the public availablity . . . of documents filed electronically.” 

The Act required the Supreme Court to prescribe rules “to protect privacy and security concerns related to electronic filing of documents and the public availability . . . of documents filed electronically.”

The new privacy rules include Civil Procedure Rule 5.2, Criminal Rule 49.1 and Bankruptcy Rule 9037.   Appellate Rule 25 was amended to incorporate the new privacy directive. The rules can be found at Rules.

The new rules for civil, criminal, and bankruptcy courts require that case files show only the last four digits of a person’s financial account or Social Security number; only the year, not date, of someone’s birth; and only the initials, not name, of persons known to be minors.  Of course, this is restriction is for on-line case information such as you get when you use the Federal Courts Pacer system (Link is on left). 

Social Security and Immigration cases are open to the public but they will not be available for on-line access.  You will have to go to the court clerks office to look at these records.   Judge Lee Rosenthal (S.D. Tex.), chair of the Conference Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure said “These records are often full of sensitive, highly personal information. The most obvious example is medical records. Because of the volume of the records and the extent to which they are made up of such personal information, it is not feasible to use redaction to protect privacy. The rules recognize these practical problems and do not require the parties to redact personal identifier information in these cases.”

Rosenthal added: “Because these filings will remain unredacted, it seemed prudent to keep them off the Internet, where they can be easily searched.” 

Although Social Security and immigration cases still will be available to the public at the courthouse, prohibiting on-line access “balances our long-standing commitment to keeping our case files public with the need to protect privacy in the age of computers,” Rosenthal said.  See full story at Newsletter of Federal Courts

For investigators, attorneys and others needing such public information for legitimate reasons, access is going to be more difficult–meaning higher costs to clients.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, FOIA, Investigations, lawyers, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Blogs–Urban Legend–Change Venue Says Attorney

Posted by Bill on December 4, 2007

An article at Law.Com, Law.Com, refers to a Tennessee defense attorney, Philip Lomonaco, Knoxville, TN, asking for a change of venue in a federal criminal case.  Lomonaco says that the Internet is the “largest unregulated source for information” in the community.  In his case, he says it has been used to outrage and taint the jury pool. 

Stephen Saltzburg, Chair, American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section, said this is first time he has heard about blogs cited for a change of venue.  Lomonaco considers that the blogs related to his case are distorting facts and raising false allegations.

Getting facts for a change of venue are something that private investigators can do to assist in defense of cases, whether civil or criminal.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, Investigations, lawyers, PI Chatter, PIAVA, private investigators | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FOIA In Georgia Supreme Court; New Jersey Convictions

Posted by Bill on December 3, 2007

An interesting item appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, AJC, today concerning the release of police department records on unsolved crimes.  Under Georgia law, police departments can refuse to turn over files and records in a “pending investigation.”  In this case, however, the records are about a murder that occurred in 1992.  There has never been an arrest, and the case is “cold.”  The Athens Banner-Herald newspaper requested the records, but the request was refused under the “pending investigation” exemption to the Georgia Open Records Act, O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70 et seq.  The definition of the term “pending investigation” is now up to the Georgia Supreme Court. See whole story Here.

Virginia has a similar FOIA exemption category in Va. Code section 2.2-3076, Code.  Under this code section, criminal incident information must be released to the public if requested.  Criminal incident information means “a general description of the criminal activity reported, the date and general location the alleged crime was committed, the identity of the investigating officer, and a general description of any injuries suffered or property damaged or stolen.”  But, the Virginia FOIA provides that “where the release of criminal incident information is likely to jeopardize an ongoing investigation . . .  such information may be withhelduntil the above-referenced damage is no longer likely to occur from release of the information.”  To my knowledge, there has not been a Virginia Supreme Court interpretation of this term.  Perhaps, if it ever comes to that, the Georgia Supreme Court opinion may be relevant.

At least in Georgia and Virginia as well as most states, some criminal information is available to the public.  But, in Mississippi, Miss. Code 25-41-3, is interpreted by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety (Mississippi Highway Patrol) very broadly to exclude furnishing any information under the broad exception “law enforcement officials.”  This term provides that a meeting of “law enforcement officials” is not open to the public.  But, the interpretation does not stop there.  DPS says if they wanted to they could exclude most everything from disclosure.  No Mississippi court has weighed in on this broad interpretation.  See story Here

 New Jersey Conviction Records

According to the New Jersey Home News Tribune, HNT, updated New Jersey Superior Court convictions records for 2007 and the last 10 years are searchable at Data Universe, the Home News Tribune’s public records site.  Good that more open records are out there and the public has access.

More post will follow on interesting subjects over the next few days.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in FOIA, Investigations, law enforcement, PIAVA, Public Records | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 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 


 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

Posted in Investigations, Links, PI Chatter, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | 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

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