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Public Court Records–Free

Posted by Bill on February 13, 2009

The New York Times has interesting story today about PACER the government run federal courts database. See Pacer Here  NYT Story

PACER is the US government site for federal court records.  Pending case information is available along with old, closed case information.  You need an account with them so that you can search the database.  Also, you have to pay 8 cents per page for downloading.  Almost all federal courts are on the system, and you can search by name, case number and in all or individual courts.

According to the NYT story Public Resource is taking the case information from the PACER system and making the information publicly available without charge.  It is a good site to check out if you are doing public record research.

Bill Lowrance

Check out new law firm Lowrance Law LLC

Posted in Investigations, PI Chatter, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, Public Records, Research | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Pellicano Case To Change Way Attorneys Use Private Investigators?

Posted by Bill on July 13, 2008

Attorneys are going to change the way they view hiring private investigators and what type of work is authorized for the private investigator.  This is all due to the Anthony Pellicano case in Los Angeles and the jobs he did for attorney Terry Christensen. See prior post on Pellicano Here

Los Angeles attorney Terry Christensen, managing partner at Christensen, Glaser, Fink, Jacobs, Weil & Shapiro, hired and used the private investigator services of Anthony Pellicano who was convicted several months ago for a multitude of federal crimes.  Christensen was indicted in 2006 when the federal grand jury alleged that Christensen paid Pellicano to record and report on telephone conversations in some high profile cases.  See Christensen Indicted.  Christensen was accused of paying Pellicano to illegally wiretap some individuals. 

Federal prosecutors allegedly have dozens of recordings of conversations between Pellicano and Christensen, and they intend to prove that Christensen paid Pellicano to illegally wiretap individuals in some of his high profile cases.  If convicted, Christensen could face up to 10 years in prison. U.S. v. Pellicano, No. 2:2005-cr-01046 (C.D. Calif.).

Now it is reported that many lawyers are thinking about the way they work with private investigators.

The National Law Journal published an excellent article, see Article, analyzing the Pellicano and other cases involving attorneys’ viewpoints on future use of private investigators.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA, www.piava.org

www.informationinsightsinc.com

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

More Phishing Scams–Child Support

Posted by Bill on June 16, 2008

News from the FBI about new phishing scam:

 The FBI and its partner, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), have received reports of phishing attacks targeting users of EPPICards. The EPPICard is similar to a debit card. EPPICards are issued by a state agency for the purpose of receiving child-support payments. The cards are currently used in 15 states.

Individuals have reported receiving e-mail or text messages indicating a problem with their account. They are directed to follow the link provided in the message to update their account or correct the problem. The link actually directs the individuals to a fraudulent web site where their personal information, such as account number and PIN, is compromised.

Individuals have also reported receiving an e-mail message asking them to complete an online survey. At the end of the survey, they are asked for their EPPICard account information to allow funds to be credited to the account in appreciation for completing the survey. Providing this information will allow criminals to compromise the account.

Click Here For Whole Story

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc.

 

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

At The NALI Conference Today

Posted by Bill on June 13, 2008

PIAVA is at the NALI conference today in Arlington, VA.  Yesterday, NALI members and conference attendees toured the Library of Congress learning all the various types of information available through research.  After that the members/attendees walked up to Congress to talk with their representatives about current issues in the professional investigative industry.

Today, various people are giving presentations on attorney/private investigator relationships, “At Risk Protection & Investigations,” managing large investigations, locating hidden assets, fraud investigations, business due diligence investigations and digital forensics.  Attendees receive continuing education credits for going to the sessions.

Some of the exhibitors here are Jimmie Mesis, PI Magazine, www.pimagazine.com, IRB’s Kristen Gilley, www.irbsearch.com, is here along with OTL Tactical, Beth Kalyan, www.otltacticl.com, Tina Green, El Dorado Insurance, www.eldoradoinsurance.com, Mike Yergey, Yergey Insurance Agency, www.yergeyins.com, Paige Arrington, G.A. Public Records Service, www.gaprs.biz, Shawn Monroe, www.paraben.com, and Amanda Cunha, Locate Plus, www.locateplus.com.

Our good friend Rosalie Folino, J&R Folino, LLC, www.jrfolinollc.com, stopped by and assisted the writer in clarifying information and, most importantly, spell checking live time.

Now is lunch time, and we will be back with more news later.

Bill Lowrnce

President PIAVA

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

ACFE Webinar On Social Engineering

Posted by Bill on June 6, 2008

AFCE, the premier certified fraud examiners site, is having a webinar on social engineering.  Social engineering is getting information from people through various manipulative schemes–pretexting, phishing etc.  This webinar sounds like it should excellent for the professional investigator.  See AFCE Webinar

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

 

Social Engineering – The Foundation of Today’s Fraud Schemes

June 19, 2008 at 12:00 PM EDT
Duration: 100 minutes

Many fraudsters are adept at utilizing social engineering to successfully execute their schemes. The art of manipulating people, whether through pretexting, phishing, or other information-collecting techniques, is based on exploiting human weaknesses and decision-making biases to the direct benefit of the fraudster. This presentation will detail the elements and indicators of social engineering, provide examples of current social engineering schemes, review the risks entailed by these schemes and provide best practices for risk mitigation.

Learning Objectives:
• Understanding social engineering principals
• Identifying the red flags of social engineering attempts
• Possessing best practices and resources for related risk mitigation

Who Should Attend:
• Certified Fraud Examiners and other anti-fraud specialists
• Law Enforcement
• Loss prevention and security professionals
• Forensic accountants
• Internal and independent auditors
• Business managers and professionals assuming fraud deterrence or investigation responsibilities

Speaker

Jon McDowall, CFE, PCI, CIFI

Chief Executive Officer
Fraud Resource Group

Prices listed below reflect the Early Bird Discount and will end on June 12:
Member $99
Non-member $149

 

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

Do Not Hire A Criminal

Posted by Bill on May 27, 2008

   The NY Times has a story today about running background investigations or checks on job applicants especially at higher levels.  You do not want to hire a CEO or CFO of a company if the person was convicted of embezzlement, do you?  The story gives examples of accountants or other financially responsible employees stealing money and company assets.

Better read this before hiring a new employee.

Click Here NY Times

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc. McLean, VA

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

Pellicano Conviction–Future of Private Investigators

Posted by Bill on May 26, 2008

  Newsweek has a story about the recent conviction of California private investigator Anthony Pellicano.  Pellicano was convicted in federal court recently on racketeering and wire tap charges. Click Here for LA Times Story 

What is the future of the private investigation industry? How will the Pellicano conviction place restrictions on private investigators? Click Here Newsweek Story

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

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

Pretexting Couple Plead Guilty

Posted by Bill on May 26, 2008

    In December 2007 we wrote about the indictment and arrest of several private investigators and personal information researchers pretexting the IRS, medical offices, Social Security Administration and others for personal information.  Click Here to Read 

This month, May 2008, the two main pretexting individuals, Emilio Torrella, 36, and Brandy Torrella, 27, whose company BNT Investigations in Belfair, WA, sold the data for $30 to $300 a record to private investigators who used their services.  The Torrellas obtained the information through false representations.  This month the couple pled guilty.

The Torellas, who owned BNT Investigations in Belfair, sold the data for $30 to $300 a record to private investigators who used their services.

The couple face a mandatory minimum sentence of two years for aggravated identity theft, plus additional time for wire fraud and conspiracy.

The year-long investigation, dubbed “Operation Dialing for Dollars,” led to the couple’s indictment in December 2007, along with the indictment of seven private investigators and another Belfair man, BNT Investigations employee Steven Berwick. Cases against those eight are set for trial in September.  Read full news article Click Here Seattle PI. See Torrella Plea Agreement

BIll Lowrance

President PIAVA

 

Posted in Investigations, law enforcement, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Need Those Cell Phone Text Messages

Posted by Bill on May 15, 2008

  Today’s “Tech Tips for Investigators” comes from PIAVA member Ed Leary.  Ed has an investigative firm in Fairfax, VA, www.erleary.com.  In a case recently, he needed to access data on his client’s cell phone.  How did he do it?  See his tip below.

In a couple of recent cases, I have found myself needing to acquire data from a client’s cell phone. I found data recovery is feasible from some but not all phones and to different degrees depending on a number of factors.

The acquisition or recovery of data, e.g. text messages stored on a cell phone, can in some instances prove to be of evidentiary value in an investigation. One of the tools which can be used for that purpose is computer forensic software.

The feasibility of data acquisition and recovery is impacted by a number of factors, including the design, construction, programming, and condition of the device on which data may be stored; the tool(s) used to acquire the data; and the skill of the forensic examiner. The degree to which data may be acquired/recovered varies by device.

The CParaben Corporation website contains a listing of devices which may be susceptible to data acquisition/recovery using forensic software designed for that purpose. Bottom Line: For an explanation of the capabilities of data acquisition/recovery software and, importantly, a listing of various cell phone devices with which it may be compatible,

visit: Paraben-Forensics.

Thanks Ed for the great information.  You can contact Ed through his web site at www.erleary.com or 703-946-6791, 866-570-0641.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc., McLean, VA

 

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

Virginia Courts Digitally Scanning Court Records

Posted by Bill on May 11, 2008

  Virginia Clerks of the Courts are scanning court records allowing electronic access to court documents normally seen only in the paper file in the clerk’s office.   Lawyers have expressed concern about their client’s personal information in the court records will be seen by anyone on the Internet. 

Read the whole story here: Virginia Lawyers Weekly

Bill Lowrance

President Piava

Information Insights Inc.

 

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

Tax Information On The Web In Italy

Posted by Bill on May 10, 2008

A recent read of BBC News reveals that the Italian outgoing government published every Italian citizens declared earnings and tax contributions.  Well, as you might guess there was a public “negative” response and the information was taken down after being on the tax authority’s web site for 24 hours.

Probably the most sacred information to Americans is tax return information.  It is a grievance felony to release tax return information without proper authority.  Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 6103 provides that all tax return information is confidential, private and may not be released or disclosed without specific statutory authority.  The IRS cannot turn over tax return information to anyone, government or private sector, without following specific procedures and statutory provisions.

There are certain exceptions and situations allowing the IRS to release tax return information.

However, there are important exceptions that you should be aware of.

IRC 6103(d) provides that return information may be shared with state agencies responsible for tax administration. The state agency must request this information in writing, and the request must be signed by an official designated to request tax information.  It should be noted that the IRS and almost all states have signed memorandum of agreements relating to specific enforcement programs.

IRC 6103(i)(1) provides that, pursuant to court order, return information may be shared with law enforcement agencies for investigation and prosecution of non-tax criminal laws.

IRC 6103(k)(6) allows the IRS to make limited disclosures of return information in the course of official tax administration investigations to third parties if necessary to obtain information that is not otherwise reasonably available.

IRC 6103(l)(1) provides that return information related to taxes imposed under chapters 2, 21, and 24 may be disclosed to the Social Security Administration (SSA) as needed to carry out its responsibilities under the Social Security Act. Chapter 2 relates to self-employment income and does not normally concern employers. Chapter 21 concerns social security and Medicare (FICA) tax, and chapter 24 deals with income tax withholding.

The IRS may therefore share information with SSA about social security and Medicare tax liability if necessary to establish the taxpayer’s liability.   This provision does not allow the IRS to disclose your tax information to SSA for any other reason.   SSA employees who receive this information are bound by the same confidentiality rules as IRS employees.   Therefore, they generally cannot disclose the information to state social security administrators, state officials or other Federal agencies.

IRC 6103(e)(6) and (c) provide for disclosures to powers of attorney and other designees.  If you are notified of an audit by the IRS, you may want to have someone other than the authorized officer of your entity represent you or participate in the meeting.   You may bring any individual you wish into the discussion, in person or by telephone.   You may give oral consent to speak with a third party if necessary to resolve a Federal tax matter.   However, oral consent does not substitute for a power of attorney or a legal designation, and the discussion is limited to the issue for which the consent is given.   

Well, so much for the highly technical aspects of the Internal Revenue Code.  Have you read it?

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc., McLean, VA

Posted in attorneys, FOIA, Investigations, lawyers, PI Chatter, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Surveillance Cameras-DC 5000 NYC 3000 Chicago 6000

Posted by Bill on May 1, 2008

 Smile because soon everywhere you travel, even through airports, you will be under surveillance.  Washington, DC, announced today implementation, Read Surveillance Camera Story, of an around the clock monitered camera surveillance system (up to 5000 cameras).  The camera feed will go to the central office of the DC Homeland Security to be monitored by people.  Of course, no one knows who will be monitoring, when, how or what.  Will some errant monitor peek into your apartment window?  There are serious concerns by some DC Council members about lack of planning, security and privacy.

The story points out that NYC and Chicago have 3000 and 6000 cameras, respectively, out there monitoring activity.  Right now most security cameras are pointed to public areas in various parts of the cities.  Will cameras soon be placed in residential neighborhoods?  Personally, I do not want one on my street.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

 

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

Surveillance Photos & Privacy-What Is The Law

Posted by Bill on April 27, 2008

  Most private investigators conduct surveillance (see wikipedia surveillance) in various types of cases.  Probably the two most common types of cases needing surveillance are divorces and workers compensation cases.  Surveillance may play a role in many types of cases from crimes to background investigations.  

In a normal case, a private investigator will plan and organize a surveillance before actually going on site to begin.  To conduct a professional surveillance, the investigator must identify the subject, gather background information (names, addresses, car registration, friends names & addresses, hobbies etc), visit and map out the surveillance site, determine the best time and place for the job, check out equipment making sure it works, provide backup equipment and batteries and gather the essentials to carry while on the job.

In most cases, the investigator records the surveillance with digital photography, either still or video.  In every surveillance, the professional investigator will know and observe federal and state laws relating to a person’s privacy.  For example, in Virginia there is a law against stalking.  VA Code 18.2-60.3.

The stalking statue prohibits engaging a person and placing the person in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault or bodily injury.  The law provides an exception for law enforcement officers and private investigators licensed in Virginia.  The knowledgeable Virginia private investigator knows that his or her surveillance will not violate the stalking statute. 

In addition, Virginia has a statute prohibiting the unlawful filming, videotaping or photographing of another person (VA Code 18.2-386.1).  One of the principles of the statute is to protect ones reasonable expectation of privacy.  Under this statute, it is unlawful to photograph someone, without their consent, if the person is in a dressing room, bathroom, bedroom, or some other location where one expects privacy. 

So, it appears that surveillance photos are within legal parameters as long as such photos or video do not violate a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy.

Thanks to Legal Andrew.com we have some references to more reading on a photographers right to take photos, see Bert Krages Article, an article by Bert Krages, Portland attorney, and his book Legal Handbook for Photographers.

In the meantime, keep taking snaps legally.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc., McLean, VA

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

Social Networks–Almost Everything You Want To Know

Posted by Bill on April 12, 2008

This is a great article about social networks. by Nelson Doyle, a high tech blogger.  Learn all you want to know.  BTW, research in social networks often turns up much needed information for investigators.  Click here: Social Networks

Also, check out social networks “bookmarking” groups at Social-Bookmarking Communities

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

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

Want Your Attorney To Fight For You

Posted by Bill on April 12, 2008

  When and if any of us get to a situation in which we need a lawyer, how do you choose one?  Of course, you want an attorney that will represent your interests and fight for you.  In Oregon there are at least two attorneys who will fight for their clients.  You can read the whole story here: Oregon Live Story 

The first few lines of the story are:

“There are plenty of fights between attorneys in the Multnomah County courthouse every day, but rarely do they include actual blows.

That’s why jaws dropped last week when two attorneys duked it out in a first-floor hallway in front of a crowd of spectators, including a few county sheriff’s deputies and Portland traffic cops.

Attorneys David Lawrence and Aaron Matusick had been in landlord-tenant court Thursday for a hearing and began shouting at each other when they left the courtroom, according to witnesses and officials who investigated the fight.”

Hey, that’s my lawyer!

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

 

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

Canadian Federal Government Databases

Posted by Bill on April 8, 2008

  Do you need to research anything about our Canadian friends?  Check out this site for Canadian Federal Government sites available on the Web.

Click Here: Canadian Federal Government Sites

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc., McLean, VA

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

Surveillance Symposium–Univ. of Chicago Law Review

Posted by Bill on April 8, 2008

 

Surveillance Symposium: University of Chicago Law Review, published Winter 2008

Read legal, scholarly articles on privacy, surveillance, data mining and the law. 

Click Here: Univ. of Chicago Surveillance Symposium Articles

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc., McLean, VA

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

Fingerprint Evidence–Admissible?

Posted by Bill on April 8, 2008

   LLRX.Com, llrx.com, has posted a very good article on new legal challenges to fingerprint evidence.  The article is by Ken Strutin (JD, MLS) who is an experienced law librarian, criminal defense attorney, and well-known writer and speaker.  Mr. Strutin is the Director of Legal Information Services at the New York State Defenders Association.

He lists many legal resources, case law and fingerprint standards located on the Web.  The next time you are confronted with potential fingerprint evidence think about admissiblibity of such evicence.

Click here Fingerprint Evidence

See a counter view at Reliability of Fingerprint Identification

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc., McLean, VA

Posted in attorneys, crime, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, police, private detective, private investigators, Research | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Criminal Records Research

Posted by Bill on April 7, 2008

  One of the best public records online search systems is SearchSystems.net.  We have a link to Search Systems in the left column.   Search Systems says it has the “largest, most up-to-date and reliable directory of public records and best resource for background checks and criminal records on the Internet. Online since 1997 and ranked Number for public records since 2001, SearchSystems.net continues to be by far the best resource of business information, corporate filings, property records, deeds, mortgages, criminal and civil court filings, inmates, offenders, births, deaths, marriages, unclaimed property, professional licenses, and much more. Easy access to billions of records!”

Recently, Search Systems put up a Criminal Records Search Guide on its web site.  See Criminal Records Search Guide

The Guide contains a lot of good information about criminal records such as how and where you find them, catagories of records, searches for records and the truth about a national criminal records search.  If you need to search a lot of public records, sign up for a SearchSystems.net account.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc., McLean, VA

 

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

Insurance Fraud Investigations–April 19

Posted by Bill on April 5, 2008

  PIAVA member and vice president, Ed Hruneni, vice president of Investigative Services, American Security Programs, is having a private investigator continuing education program on investigating insurance fraud.  PIAVA member, Ken Mitzkovitz of Detect Inc. in Alexandria, VA, will present a two hour program in his speciality–insurance fraud investigations.

Ken has over 22 years of investigative experience primarily related to insurance investigations.  Ken will also give great tips on conducting a surveillance in insurance investigations.  Attend this program and learn how to prepare a fraud investigation.

The program will be on Saturday, April 19, 2008, 10 a.m. until noon, at American Security Programs, 22900 Shaw Road, Dulles, VA 20166.  The cost is $35 per person.  To register call 703 834 8900 or email hr at securityprograms.com.

See   insurance-investigations flyer.

Also see “Red Flags” of Insurance Fraud Insurance Fraud–Red Flags

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc.,

McLean, VA

 

 

 

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