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Private Investigator News and Information

8/8/06-FBI Alert

The FBI has issued an urgent nationwide alert for 11 Egyptian students who
entered the United States last week but failed to show up for their courses
at Montana State University.

An FBI advisory says there are, at present, no known connections to any
terrorist group but that the students are to be “approached with caution”
and taken into custody. They “are here illegally and wanted for
questioning,” the advisory says.

The advisory comes just over a month before the five-year anniversary of the
September 11 terror attacks on the United States.

“This is of very serious concern and is being closely tracked,” said Rep.
Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

The FBI says the Egyptians arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on
July 29 and disappeared. The advisory says the alert is nationwide but that
there is specific concern the Egyptians may be on the Eastern Seaboard.

According to the advisory the 11 missing Egyptians are:

1. Ibrahim, El Sayed Ahmed Elsayed; DOB OF 4/29/1986.
2. El Dessouki, Eslam Ibrahim Mohamed; DOB OF 02/21/1985.
3. El Bahnasawi, Alaa Abd El Fattah Ali; DOB OF 04/02/1986.
4. Abd Alla, Mohamed Ragab Mohamed; DOB OF 02/15/1984.
5. El Laket, Ahmed Refaat Saad El Moghazi; DOB OF 09/01/1986.
6. El Ela, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamed Abou; DOB OF 02/02/1985.
7. El Moghazy, Mohamed Ibrahim Elsayed; DOB OF 08/08/1986.
8. Abdou, Ebrahim Mabrouk Moustafa; DOB OF 02/25/1984.
9. El Gafary, Moustafa Wagdy Moustafa; DOB OF 07/01/1988.
10.Maray, Mohamed Saleh Ahmed; DOB OF 09/12/1985.
11.El Shenawy, Mohamed Ibrahim Fouaad; DOB OF 08/12/1988.

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: August 8, 2006, 10:48 am | Comments Off

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA - Political operative Bill McKinney and a family friend have been indicted, accused of covering up their involvement in a campaign against Gwinnett County Commissioner Kevin Kenerly.

District Attorney Danny Porter said the charges stem from a DVD, filmed by a private investigator, that shows Kenerly gambling in Las Vegas in the company of local developers.

The DVD, which an indictment links to McKinney and Nancy Allison Walter, was distributed to media outlets and then copied and mailed to voters. Campaign mailers and signs were also created by the anonymous Web site.

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: August 6, 2006, 4:46 am | Comments Off

KGBT4 - Reo Grande Valley News reports:

Man Arrested For Impersonating Agent

July 31, 2006 05:54 PM

A real private security investigator with D-P-S exposed this crime. And Tonight he’s turning to us to see if there might be more victims who may have paid and lost money to the suspect.

After a court hearing for impersonating a T-A-B-C agent at Hooters, Eduardo Martinez was arrested again.

“You’re under arrest for class a misdemeanor and a state jail felony.”

This time by a D-P-S investigator for operating an unlicensed investigation company and for theft.

Trooper Ausencio Perieda with the Texas Department of Public Safety says Martinez was hired by a woman back in may to recover her stolen 1995 Ford van.

She thought Martinez was a licensed private investigator.

“She took him as… She thought he was an investigator just because he was well dressed and well groomed.”

The woman, who we’ll call Sonya, says Martinez did sound convincing when he wanted a 15-hundred dollar recovery fee.

“I only had 900 dollars, I didn’t have the rest because we really didn’t have it.”

Martinez then allegedly told Sonya her vehicle had been seized at an International bridge and promised her he’d get it back.

And that’s when Perieda says she committed mistake number two.

“A couple of days later he came back and she gave him a duplicate of the key and a copy of the title.”

And since then, Sonya hasn’t seen her van or her money.

Martinez eventually gave her a reciept and allegedly scolded her for actively attempting to reach him. She says he even threatened her if she went to the authorities.

Sonya claims he then changed all his phone numbers and disappeared until now.

“I’m glad that he’s been caught but I’m also scared because he threatened me.”

Martinez was jailed today on a 30 thousand dollar bond. We did call his attorney for comment but he didn’t call us back.

And by the way if you have a similar case involving this defendant, you are encouraged to contact your local police department.

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: August 1, 2006, 3:00 am | Comments Off

A peek at Vermont’s door-knocking cyber-gumshoes

July 30, 2006

Maybe it’s best if we start at the beginning. Clear up a few things. Care for a shot of bourbon? Me neither. Not these days. There are plenty of misconceptions about who I am and what I do. I’m strictly on the up and up. No busting down doors. No packing a concealed roscoe. That’s pure fiction, sweetheart. Search for a missing person or tail an unfaithful spouse? Occasionally.

Excuse me, doll, while I take this call on my cell phone. Oh, sorry. It was just the fax, ma’am.

Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett would have spit out their Old Grand Dad had they stumbled upon this bad prose. But they’d surely give a tip of the fedora to the modern sleuths carrying on the work of their beloved fictional private investigators of yore.

That is, if they even recognized them.

Today’s private investigator is more likely to be hired by an attorney, insurance company, corporation or law-enforcement agency than by an ordinary citizen who sashays into a smoky office where the occupant’s name is stenciled on the door. He or she may spend more hours seated at a computer than hoofing it around town in a trench coat.

The usual image of a private investigator is the romanticized and mythologized figure of literature, film and television.

“He’s like the lone gunfighter in the Old West — willing to break the law for a good cause,” says Otto Penzler, 64, publisher of The Armchair Detective, a quarterly journal devoted to the study of mystery and suspense fiction.

For a look at reality, meet 55-year-old Nancy Stevens, P.I.

She operates Nancy Stevens Investigations out of her home in Lincoln.

A private investigator since 1980, she holds a dual distinction: She was the first woman to earn the requisite licensing from the Vermont secretary of state’s office, and the first licensed investigator here who did not come from a law-enforcement background.

Most, though not all, of the 116 investigators currently licensed in Vermont have worked as state or local police officers, chiefs of police, sheriffs or deputies, federal agents or constables, according to the secretary of state’s office.

“I was the first woman in an old boys’ club. It was kind of amusing,” she says.

What lured a 28-year-old woman to apply for a private investigator license? Ignore the fact that as a child she read every Nancy Drew book twice. “I thought this would be a lot of fun. Get in the car. Knock on a door and not know what will happen.”

(In a strange mix of reality and fiction, Stevens herself appears as a fictional private investigator in the book “Midwives” by Lincoln author Chris Bohjalian.)

A self-described “middle-aged church lady,” Stevens says her specialty is finding and interviewing witnesses for attorneys: a “door-knocker.” She is reluctant to tell people she meets socially what she does for a living — although she never withholds her identity — because the conversation usually ends up about her.

She refers to today’s computer-dependent investigator as a “cyber-gumshoe” and insists there’s no substitute for on-scene interviewing, a skill at which she says she is exceptionally good. She spends a lot of her time on the job doing research and waiting for people to come home so she can interview them. “People think a case happens in 42 minutes, plus commercials,” she says with a laugh.

This trail-blazing woman, whose favorite fictional investigator is novelist Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, confesses to having a signed photograph of “Magnum P.I.” hunk Tom Selleck in her back office.

Retired cops and people with a specialty.

That’s who James Murphy, 66, wants working at Murphy Detective Agency (a name straight out of Central Casting if ever there was one) in Newport and with offices in Bridgewater and Burlington.

Murphy’s background is in law enforcement, 33 years to be exact, 18 of it as Orleans County sheriff. He carries a bounty hunter license, and he’s been licensed as a private investigator since 1995. Murphy started his agency in 2000 and is the president of the 34-member Vermont Association of Investigative and Security Services, a trade association.

When a person calls his agency with a problem or seeking advice, Murphy suggests he or she first call an attorney. “I tell him to find out what the attorney wants me to do.” His agency averages three or four calls a day from prospective clients.

Murphy has six full-time employees who assist in a variety of investigations, including workers’ compensation (”I believe 75 percent of all workman comp cases are fraudulent,” he says), missing persons, surveillance, witness statements and accident reconstruction.

When people find out what he does for a living they usually say, “I’d like to do that.” However, “I tell them this is no 8-to-5 job. I work weekends and spend hours on cases.”

Murphy, whose favorite fictional counterpart is Selleck’s Thomas Magnum, admits half-jokingly to keeping a half gallon of Scotch downstairs. “I told my wife: ‘If you were in my business you’d drink, too.’”

“I don’t do surveillance and divorce cases. I do insurance, personal injury cases and criminal cases,” says Montpelier’s Conrad Boucher, 56, of Boucher Private Investigators, the newest P.I. on the block.

Although he’s had his shingle out for less than a year, Boucher is well-versed in the world of investigations. He retired from the state after spending 25 years as a probation and parole officer in Burlington and Barre. “That profession gave me lots of investigative experience,” he says.

An eye for detail and good report-writing, he says, are essential in this business. Boucher describes what goes into a typical investigation, citing a personal injury lawsuit he was assigned to by the plaintiff’s lawyer:

A woman was hurt when she tripped on a raised piece of concrete at a shopping mall. The ambulance crew mentioned to her in passing that they had responded to a similar accident at the same spot the previous week. She got a lawyer.

Enter Boucher. He went to her home, interviewed her and took photos of her injuries. He went to the accident scene, took photos, drew a diagram and took detailed measurements. He hoofed it over to the Montpelier police department to read the accident report, then went to the town office and found the names of the mall’s out-of-state owners. He later interviewed mall employees, including the manager, who provided the phone number of the owners, whom he called.

“At first I didn’t identify myself,” Boucher says of that phone call. “When they found out I was a private investigator working for the plaintiff, they shut down our conversation.”

Once he had gathered all the information he could, his role in the case was done. He doesn’t even know what became of the woman and her lawsuit.

Boucher has no favorite fictional sleuth. “My passion is investigating, researching and writing, and I’m curious by nature, which lends itself to this work. I’m not into the fictional stuff.”

Ironic, considering that he works out of his home on Holmes (as in Sherlock) Court.

“You can be unethical and not break the law,” says Scott L. Jackson, 55.

Jackson, owner of S.L. Jackson & Associates in Manchester, is a retired federal agent with 30 years of experience at the federal, state and local level. He hung up his own shingle just two years ago. Jackson considers himself a highly ethical individual who would never encroach on private property in the course of his business.

Case in point.

He tells the story of working with a private investigator years ago when he was a federal agent. Jackson was investigating possible workers’ compensation fraud at Defense Department-contracted facilities. One of the people suspected of fraud claimed to have a bad back.

The investigator assigned to the case provided Jackson’s office with photographs of the suspect fixing a flat tire. Jackson remembers telling the investigator how lucky he was to have caught this event on film. The man responded that luck had played no part in it: He had deflated the man’s tire and waited, with camera in hand, for him to return.

The agency would not use this “evidence” because of the way it was obtained.

Jackson says he spends a great deal of time doing online research for his cases, most of which are assigned to him through law firms — for example, background investigations on potential employers, asset searches for collection agencies — and agrees with the notion of the investigator becoming a cyber-gumshoe.

“There is a tremendous amount of information available online. The information is voluminous, but online cannot be the basis of the entire matter.” He still does in-person interviews.

His favorite fictional gumshoe? Appropriately, the great Sherlock Holmes, who, in “The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans,” says to Dr. Watson: “It is fortunate for this community that I am not a criminal.”

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: July 30, 2006, 1:28 pm | Comments Off

Man on a mission to root out false prophets

If you haven’t visited Bible Belt Blogger, you haven’t seen “God’s Private Detective” — a story about a Dallas man who helps expose crooked religious leaders. Faith and Values reporter Frank Lockwood posts items seven days a week at

DALLAS — For as long as anybody can remember, spiritual con-artists have ripped off the faithful, preying on the sick, the elderly, the lonely and the desperate.

They offer miraculous cures. They promise financial windfalls. They live in oceanside mansions and fly in private jets — and pay their multi-million-dollar mortgages with nickels and dimes sent by devout Social Security recipients.

It’s the ugly side of evangelical Christianity. The government is loath to monitor the abuse because of first-amendment concerns. Many religious groups are unwilling to intervene.

But there is at least one organization that is successfully exposing spiritual chicanery — the Dallas-based Trinity Foundation.

Ole Anthony, a prophet with a private detective’s license, has successfully exposed the shenanigans of Robert Tilton, W.V. Grant, Benny Hinn and Larry Lea.

On Saturday, I visited the Dallas headquarters of Anthony’s Trinity Foundation and learned about its work. Foundation members not only expose spiritual fraud, they also run a ministry for the homeless and publish The Wittenburg Door, which bills itself as “The World’s Pretty Much Only Religious Satire Magazine.”

Over the years, it has offended just about everybody.

“We named Beavis and Butthead ‘theologians of the decade’ and we were canceled in every Christian bookstore in the free world and we still are,” Anthony told me.

The Door was likely the first publication in the history of evangelical Christianity to publish a nude centerfold — a picture of W.V. Grant’s hairy backside which was snatched from the Pentecostal preacher’s trash can. Borrowing the Playboy format, it included Grant’s age (51 at the time) measurements (purportedly 50-inch waist) and turn-ons: “feet tickling, long sermons, chastisement followed by gentle touch.”

Dumpster raids turn up some of the most damning evidence against preachers. Anthony sifts through the trash of televangelists, their bankers and their attorneys, looking for signs of fraud or of extravagant spending.

Trinity Foundation members also go undercover, getting jobs with ministries that are suspect.

The sleuthing doesn’t earn Anthony many friends in the world of Christian broadcasting.

“Half the church world thinks I’m the anti-Christ personified,” he said.

The pipe-smoking, 67-year-old activist has a toll-free hotline. People who have been harmed by shifty spiritual advisers can call 1-800-229-VICTIM.

So far, Anthony has opened files on more than 400 preachers nationwide. He also collaborates with journalists at Primetime Live, Dateline, 60 Minutes, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the BBC.

Because Anthony is now something of a celebrity (he was written up in a lengthy and glowing New Yorker profile), his name strikes fear in the hearts of many. He’s now able, sometimes, to help victims recover their money. Preachers would rather refund the donation than have to deal with Anthony. Evangelist Robert Tilton sued the Trinity Foundation, repeatedly, without success.

Anthony says he’s been offered bribes — $100,000 a month for his ministry — if he’ll just stay quiet. “Five million dollars cash — if I’d disappear.”

But he’s not going anywhere, he says.

Anthony lives simply. In exchange for his work, he receives $55 per week, plus room and board. He resides in a quiet neighborhood in east Dallas and opens his home to those in need. It’s a commitment to hospitality that other Trinity Foundation supporters share.

“We take the homeless in, but we take them into our homes — not into a shelter,” he said. A few ended up on the streets after giving their money to TV preachers, Anthony said.

Some evangelists have concocted a spiritual pyramid scheme of sorts, promising that God will reward followers a hundred-fold or a thousand-fold for their financial gifts.

The tactics are unconscionable, Anthony says. “They say ‘Write a hot check. God will fill your checkbook. Take out a loan. God will pay your loan. Pay your tithe and offering before the baby is fed — as a show of faith.’ That’s heresy,” he said.

Ironically, Anthony once worked for a religious television station and was invited to appear on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club and Jim Bakker’s PTL Club.

But he grew disillusioned with what he saw.

Now he works to protect the 5 million to 6 million people he says donate to religious broadcasters.

The investigator has no savings account, no private health insurance, no retirement plan.

“When we started, we had to live with the poor — that means in all ways,” he said.

Anthony doesn’t worry about living on the edge — financially or anywhere else.

“If there’s a safety net, there’s no faith,” he says. “You have to live on the knife edge between soul and spirit.”

Many Trinity Foundation supporters have taken a vow of poverty. They’ve formed small house churches and observe traditional Jewish holidays, such as Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacle.

They meet for daily Bible studies and dine in the foundation’s dining room, a couple of doors down from Trinity Foundation headquarters on Columbia Avenue.

Suellen Short, a Floyd County transplant who lives in Dallas, found refuge here in October 2004 after she lost her job and her home. Trinity Foundation members welcomed her — and her four cats and three dogs. Today, she prepares lunches and oversees the salad bar for Trinity Foundation diners.

She remains grateful for the help she received.

“Some of where they’re coming from theology-wise I don’t understand, but they’re committed to putting their beliefs into action and they try so damn hard,” she said.

Anthony, who was briefly homeless himself in the 1970s, says Christianity is about self-sacrifice, not financial success.

Christians should be skeptical of evangelists who claim to be speaking for God — especially if they want you to write them a check, he said. Quoting an ancient Christian discipleship manual, Anthony says,

“If somebody comes to you in the name of God asking for money, shun him. He’s a false Apostle.”

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: July 29, 2006, 12:48 pm | Comments Off

Fundraiser for Jessie Foster

Kamloops This Week - online edition
Jul 28 2006

Family and friends of Jessie Foster, the Kamloops woman who vanished from Las Vegas in April, will be holding a huge yard sale in downtown Kamloops tomorrow to raise money to continue the search.

Jessie’s mother, Glendene Grant, said various fundraisers have thus far raised about $14,000, which has been used to hire a private detective in the Nevada city to continue the search for the 22-year-old.

There remains about $10,000, and Grant said the goal is to add to the total and eventually use the sum as a reward leading to information on the whereabouts of her daughter.

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: July 29, 2006, 3:40 am | Comments Off

Press Release
Thursday July 27, 9:15 pm ET

MIAMI, July 27 /PRNewswire/ — Responding to inquiries from the media, attorney Roy Black said today that a Palm Beach Police Department report alleging private investigator William Riley represented himself as a police officer while interviewing a witnesses is inaccurate.

“We provided the Palm Beach Police Department with Mr. Riley’s notes made on the day of the interview that show beyond a doubt that the witness made a false statement to the police about how Mr. Riley represented himself,” Mr. Black said. “We suspect that it was a police oversight in not correcting the report.

“Mr. Riley and his partner, Mr. Kiraly, are seasoned investigators who adhere to the highest professional standards and I have every confidence that they conducted themselves appropriately when they interviewed this witness,” Mr. Black added.

Along with his statement, Mr. Black released the notes (redacted below) taken by Mr. Riley on November 21, 2005 after the witness was interviewed.


Yesterday, 11.21.2005, my partner, Steve Kiraly, and I traveled to Orange Park (Jacksonville), Florida, in order to attempt to interview [redacted]. [redacted].

The purpose of having two people present was to act as witnesses as to whatever might have been said by [redacted] during the course of our interview.

[redacted] lives with her 18 year old boyfriend, [redacted], and his mother and boyfriend at [redacted].

Upon our arrival at her house we noticed her Jeep Wrangler gone. We then began the process of waiting for her. At about 2:00 PM we observed her boyfriend,[redacted], arrive at the house. We approached him and asked if [redacted] was there. He told us that she had just started a new job at a debt collection agency, that he did not know the name of it or their telephone number, and that she would be home around 6:30 PM. We did not advise him of why we wanted to meet with [redacted]. [redacted] said we were welcome to come back after she got off of work. He also provided her cell telephone number of [redacted]. [redacted] was very cordial and friendly.

We decided not to call her but to wait for her to come home.

At approximately 6:30 PM [redacted] arrived home. We waited about 10 minutes and approached the residence.

I knocked on the door and a woman, who I now know as [redacted], answered the door. I told her that we would like to speak with [redacted]. She said there was no [redacted] there. I said there must be because her Jeep was parked out front. She then said, “I’m sorry, you mean [redacted]” and I said yes.

[redacted] then came to the door. The following conversation took place.

[Riley] [redacted], my name is Bill Riley (as I handed her my business card) and this is my partner Steve Kiraly. We are investigators from Miami working on behalf of Jeff Epstein

[redacted] I don’t talk to f*cking cops and I’m not talking to you

[Riley] [redacted], we’re not cops

[redacted] You need to leave. Get the f*ck off my property, leave now

[Riley] [redacted], there is no need to be hostile. We are not cops. We are just trying to learn the truth

[redacted] Get the f*ck off my property, What, you’re still standing here

[Riley] We’re leaving but we don’t understand why you’re so hostile

[redacted] You have no right to be here. I moved. All that sh*t is behind me in another world so get the f*ck out of here

[redacted] goes back inside the house and [redacted] came outside on the porch.

[Riley] Ma’am we’re not being hostile. We’re here just to learn the truth.

[redacted] Look, [redacted] is a good girl and she left down there. We’re trying to sort things out now and hire her an attorney

[Riley] I understand but we’re not the bad guys and we’re not cops

[redacted] Okay, but she doesn’t want to talk with you and you really have no right being here on my property this time of night

[Riley] I’m sorry we’re here at 6:45 PM but your son, [redacted], told us we could come back

[redacted] He doesn’t own this property

[Riley] I don’t know that do I

[redacted] came back outside

[redacted] You’re still here, get the f*ck out. I’m calling the cops if you do not leave

[Riley] [redacted], we’re talking with [redacted] and yes we’re leaving but all we wanted was to learn the truth from you about what knowledge you may or may not have

We then left the premises and I immediately made my notes of our short conversation.

Source: Black, Srebnick, Kornspan & Stumpf

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: July 28, 2006, 2:42 pm | Comments Off reports:

Served Him Papers

By WENN| Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Colin Farrell at the World Premiere of “Miami Vice”. Mann Village Westwood, CA. 07-20-06
Photo Gallery

HOLLYWOOD - The man who served Colin Farrell with court papers on behalf of the woman accusing the actor of stalking and harassing her has described his encounter with the Irishman as “scary.”
Dessarae Bradford attempted to personally serve Farrell with official papers when she confronted him during his guest spot on The Tonight Show last week.

And when she failed, she hired private investigator Doug Standefer to serve the actor on her behalf. He handed over the papers at the Miami Vice premiere in Hollywood on Thursday night.

Standefer claims he conned Farrell into signing the back of the papers before stating, “Colin Farrell, you’ve been served by Desserae Bradford.”

The gray-haired private investigator admits it was then that things turned nasty–Farrell hurled abuse at him and his life was threatened.

He tells TV show Access Hollywood, “One of his bodyguards or handlers followed me and started screaming at me, telling me that if I ever came to another premiere again, it would be my last outing.

“He was a scary guy. He was right in my face–two inches from me.”

Farrell has been granted a restraining order against accuser Bradford, who has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the actor, accusing him of sexually harassing her.

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: July 26, 2006, 3:44 pm | Comments Off

26  Jul

Private Investigator Brian McGuinness is on the case, lobbying for his industry, battling
stereotypes and giving private investigators a good name

WHEN MOST PEOPLE think of private investigators, they pluck their
mental images from the Hollywood file: unsmiling men in trench coats lurking
in shadows, willing to do whatever it takes to crack the case and seduce the
leggy blonde client with the questionable past. This, of course, bears no
resemblance to the truth.

In the brightly lit Coral Gables office of PI Brian McGuinness there’s
nary a femme fatale in sight; and sporting a cheery blue shirt, he is
positively anti-noir.

For more than 20 years, the head of McGuinness and Associates has
worked on a dizzying array of criminal and civil cases. His reality involves
large amounts of computer research, and field time is spent winning over
witnesses with his friendly demeanor rather than force.

“Often [our cinematic counterparts] are doing things that are illegal
and it gives us a bad rep,” he says. “We don’t bust in doors; we don’t
trespass. I’m very cognizant of the laws because I’ve visited too many
prisons over the years and I always feel good when I’m going out the door.”

As the past president and current board chair of the National Council
of Investigation and Security Services (NCISS), McGuinness has actively
lobbied on the state and federal level to curb misconceptions about his
profession and amend legislation that negatively impacts investigators.

Just like the general public, McGuinness says, the perception held by
many congressmen and state legislators is colored by television and movies.
“We’re constantly going to Congress and saying: ‘We understand your zeal to
pass privacy legislation … but you have to give up a little privacy for the
common good.’” He cites the example of his efforts to locate the witness to
a car accident that ended the major-league dreams of an aspiring baseball
player. He got the witness’ social security number and then found him
through a legal database search.

“Had that been your brother or son, wouldn’t you want somebody like me
out there trying to find that witness? That witness was key to assigning
liability in the accident, and ultimately this baseball player received a
pretty nice financial settlement.”

His advocacy has not gone unnoticed. In October 2005, McGuinness
received the Investigator of the Year Award from the Florida Board of
Certified Investigators. Four months later, NCISS presented him with its
prestigious “Duffy,” an award named after the group’s first president, which
recognizes an individual or entity whose leadership has brought credit to
the profession.

Eddy McClain, a past Duffy winner, calls McGuinness “a class act.”
Asked about his colleague’s credibility, McClain once said: “If McGuinness
tells you the sun won’t come up tomorrow, you better buy some candles.”

But don’t think for a minute that high standards equal a dull career.
McGuinness has more than his share of war stories to tell. He was one of two
lead investigators for the defense in the U.S. vs. Eric Rudolph case,
locating witnesses and reviewing evidence surrounding the bombings of
abortion clinics in Birmingham, Ala., and at the Atlanta Olympics. In
Operation Courtbroom, the nation’s largest judicial corruption case, he was
the defense investigator for a sitting circuit court judge; and he handled
the Florida investigation for the defense in Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault
case. McGuinness recently worked with Miami attorney Edward Carhart on the
defense of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor on aggravated assault

“One day I might get hired to find an heir and the next day I might
get hired to defend somebody on a marijuana trafficking case and end up
going to Belize to find a government witness,” he says. “That’s what I like
about the profession. I feel sorry for the investigators that just do one

His resume also includes personal injury investigations, product
liability cases and securities fraud. Then there was the case of an importer
who relied on a “Who’s Who In Poultry” guide to find a chicken dealer for a
client who forked over more than $150,000 and never received a single frozen
bird. McGuinness quickly unearthed the company’s shady record. This, he
points out, is why companies should use an investigator for background
checks in advance of large financial transactions. “A good barometer of
somebody you don’t want to do business with is somebody who’s been a
defendant in a lot of fraud contract cases,” he says with a grin.

This year, the Miami PI expanded his reach even further when he became
one of a few investigators in the country licensed through the U.S. Treasury
Department to conduct investigations in Cuba. When a genealogical firm
contacted him about finding a Cuban national who was heir to a Maryland
estate, he earned the accreditation, traveled to the island and found his

This self-proclaimed people-person loves his time in the field. Unlike
many investigators who are former police officers, McGuinness earned a
psychology degree from the University of Connecticut. He made Miami his home
when his car broke down here on a visit, and started his professional career
as a rehabilitation counselor for the state. He spent seven years as a
criminal defense investigator for the Miami-Dade County Public Defenders
Office before heading out on his own.

The counseling background has served him well. “I always say finding
the witness is the easy part; it’s getting them to become involved to the
point that they’ll be a witness for your part of the case that’s hard,” he
says. “That’s where good people skills come in.”

Creativity also comes in handy. Like the time that McGuinness went to
the Bahamian home of a witness he needed in a smuggling case, but couldn’t
get anyone to answer at the front gate. Undaunted, he rented a windsurfer,
cruised over to the house via sea and told the witness’ mother that he was
“a friend of a friend.”

“I was probably within five years of the age of her son so she didn’t
think it was anything out of the ordinary – some guy windsurfing by, ‘Hey,
where’s Jeremy?’ I wasn’t able to interview the witness but I got a
reasonable assurance he was out of the country.”

Perhaps Hollywood should knock on McGuinness’ door. From AWOL poultry
to undercover windsurfing, his adventures contain more entertainment value
than most of their fictional detective tales – and all of his stories are

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: July 26, 2006, 4:03 am | Comments Off

CBC Reports:

Doctors angry after laptop stolen with 8,000 personal financial files
17:27:24 EDT Jul 25, 2006

EDMONTON (CP) - Hundreds of angry doctors and their families are demanding answers from a financial services company after a laptop containing thousands of personal files was stolen from a car in a parking lot.

I’m furious, said one of the clients, who asked not to be identified. We trust these people with virtually all our financial information.

About 8,000 clients of MD Management, a subsidiary of the Canadian Medical Association, received a letter from the company dated June 29 warning them that a laptop computer containing detailed information about their financial and professional circumstances had been stolen.

The computer was taken from an MD Management employee’s locked car during a break-in, said Guy Belanger, president of the MD Financial Group.

“The car was in a shopping centre parking lot,” he said. “The window was smashed. The contents of the car were stolen, including the laptop.”

Earlier that day, the employee had downloaded extensive information onto the laptop.

There were several thousand files, clients of our Edmonton-area regional office, Belanger said.

Once the employee contacted head office, officials checked source files to determine what information had been copied. The files include such identifying information as names, ages and addresses as well as professional and financial information.

Part of me wants to laugh - it’s just so stupid, said the client, who’s so careful about her privacy that she uses a paper shredder at home on any potentially revealing documents.

But it’s my personal information and a lot of other people’s information that’s been compromised. I don’t know in six months or a year down the road if two or three other people will be trying to get a driver’s licence or a passport in my name.

Belanger said the information was protected by password. He added there is no evident to suggest the thieves targeted the laptop, nor is there any indication the information has been used.

The police considered this to be a random theft.

MD Management has hired a private investigator to try to track down the laptop. And the company is taking precautions to try to keep the information from being used for fraudulent purposes by contacting Canada’s two credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion.

Those bureaus will flag the files for as long as six years, telling financial institutions to double-check the identity of anyone using the information.

I’ve talked to several hundred clients over the last few weeks to reassure them and tell them how seriously we take this, Belanger said.

Edmonton police and Alberta’s privacy commission are investigating the theft.

MD Management, part of a group of companies that offer various financial services to Canadian doctors and their families, is reviewing its policies on what information may be downloaded in what circumstances and by which employees.

It was obvious from this particular theft that there is room for improvement, Belanger said.

This was an employee error. But we want to make it as foolproof as possible. The privacy of our clients is paramount.

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: July 26, 2006, 3:26 am | Comments Off

Private eye, about to address hacker conference, arrested
Dan Kaplan 24 Jul 2006 21:31

FBI agents arrested a private investigator over the weekend as he was preparing to address a hacker conference in New York City, several media outlets reported today.

The complaint lodged against Steven Rambam, head of New York-based investigative agency Pallorium, charges him with one count of influencing a law enforcement officer or jury member, according to published reports. The charge relates to a time when Rambam posed as a law enforcement officer so he could question the family of an informant who helped police in a money laundering case.

He was arrested as he was about to speak at the Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) Conference.

According to the Washington Post’s “Security Fix” blog, “Rambam’s fellow panelists said four men clad in dark blue FBI jackets quietly entered the auditorium, asked Rambam if he had any weapons on him, and then escorted him out the door along with laptop and other equipment that contained the PowerPoint slides that were to make up the bulk of his scheduled two-hour presentation.”

Rambam was planning to show the audience how he spent just four-and-one-half hours to discover more than 500 pages worth of personal data on HOPE attendee Rick Dakan, a videogame designer and comic book publisher who is working on a book about hackers, the Post reported.

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: July 25, 2006, 4:00 am | Comments Off

Driving may put toll on privacy
Paying for roads takes wired route

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/24/06

Imagine a database that tracks your driving for miles. Or a car that records every inch you drive, everywhere. Or high-tech cameras that look in your car, analyze and record what they see.

All are serious government initiatives, responding in part to a national transportation funding crunch. Many states and counties have thrown up their hands at the ability of traditional road budgets to maintain, much less build, the roads they need. They are turning to other sources of money, including toll roads, often jump-started with private investment.
Related stories:
• Day 1: The end of free-ways?
• What readers are saying

And these roads are wired.

Planners and scientists are working on a range of high-tech systems they hope will save money, run roads more efficiently and help pay for road projects. They say privacy will be protected.

Privacy advocates, however, aren’t so sure. They fear it will be easier than people know for governments, private investigators and hackers to find unintended uses for the data this new technology would record.

“It’s really not even a question of will there be mission creep. It’s a question of how much or in what direction will it go,” said Jim Harper, editor of the privacy Web site and director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank.

“You build it for the good purposes, and it’s easily convertible for the purposes you don’t want.”

For Georgia, the technology question may be how to count passengers in a car. On I-75, I-575 and possibly Ga. 400 and others, the state’s leaders are planning high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, which would be free to car pools but would cost solo drivers who want to get out of congestion.

The tolling would be done electronically, with toll gate sensors blipping wallet-sized transponders perhaps stuck on windshields like Ga. 400 Cruise Cards. The equipment would probably keep billing records of where and when a car hit the tolls.

Ron Marino, a Citigroup managing director who helps Georgia finance projects, said at a conference recently that such systems represent “the adaptation of defense technology into our overall domestic living on a daily basis.”

The state Department of Transportation would probably decide what technology road companies could install on major Georgia roads.

Right now the only method of counting the number of people in cars is highway troopers’ eyeballs. That will change, perhaps within a year. According to industry salesmen and a report by the McCormick Rankin Corp., a Canadian transportation engineering firm, research — often derived from existing auto-industry technology — has suggested a number of ways to count drivers whizzing by toll sensors:

• Counting heartbeats.

• Hearing breaths.

• Feeling body heat.

• Reading fingerprints.

• Sensing human skin moisture.

The federal government is putting $16.5 million into a study that might help Congress scrap its central source of funding for roads, the gas tax. Many policymakers view the gas tax as outdated, and would like to replace it with a mileage charge.

In that study, 2,700 drivers in six areas, including North Carolina’s Research Triangle, are slated to hit the road starting this October in cars with GPS monitors that record where they drive, hoping to develop a system that bills for every mile driven, said David Forkenbrock, a University of Iowa professor who is conducting the study. It would divide the mileage payments among the governments and companies that owned those roads. The results of the four-year study will go to Congress and the Treasury and Transportation departments, Forkenbrock said.

Forkenbrock added that governments won’t be able to tell who the money is coming from and who traveled where. Some experts, such as David Klinges, a managing director at the finance firm Bear Stearns, believe the whole country will likely adopt such a system within 30 years.

Oregon has a simpler pilot program with 280 drivers. It bills drivers per mile driven in Oregon, with a higher charge for miles driven in rush-hour metro Portland.

James Whitty, manager of Oregon’s office of Innovative Partnerships and Alternative Funding, oversees that program. He conceded that if only minimal records are kept to satisfy privacy hawks, then drivers who want to challenge billing mistakes — what if you get a $300 bill when you know you didn’t drive at all? — won’t have much recourse.

“That’s for a state legislature to wrestle with, what is the proper balance,” he said.

On top of all that, the federal government has renewed interest in having cars communicate with each other and the roadside, to warn drivers who are heading into accidents. The idea would necessitate persuading the auto industry and transportation departments to install communication technology between all new cars and all major roadways.

If all cars could be controlled to avoid collisions, more lanes could be squeezed in a road, with cars inches apart, said Samuel Johnson, chief of information technology at San Diego’s regional planning association.

These programs are years, if not decades, away. But long before most drivers set eyes on the hardware, the decisions that affect their privacy would already have been made.

When the Social Security number was created in 1936, it was never intended for use as anything but an internal account number with the Social Security Administration. But the number became the individual’s national identification number and a tool for identity theft.

“You can make data anonymous by policy and it’s just a matter of time before policy breaks down,” said Dorothy Glancy, a law professor at Santa Clara University who directed a federally-funded research project on transportation technology. “You have to engineer [privacy] into the system.”

People can think up unexpected uses both illegal and legal. A database of drive times and locations paired with occupant data “certainly will have a lot of private investigators wanting to get it because of the cheating spouse thing,” said Kelly Riddle, a San Antonio private detective and a nationally recognized investigator.

Harper, the privacy Web site editor, foresees more serious police or national security uses. “We’ve seen already that they feel they benefit from monitoring telephone conversations, financial traffic data — why not automobile traffic data?”

Harper also cited worries about technology hackers. “There’s certainly security concerns in that hackers could break into the system and clone the computer system in your car and go riding around on your dime.”

Georgia’s State Road and Tollway Authority rarely receives subpoenas, but toll authorities in other states do. Ga. 400 toll drivers’ data is private unless a judge orders it disclosed, said Lisa Thompson, a spokeswoman for SRTA.

Just because data is ordered to be kept safe doesn’t mean it is. When the Albany Times Union decided to test out the privacy of New York’s electronic tolling system in 1999, a private detective the newspaper hired had an editor’s toll records within the hour. He’d started out with just the man’s name and hometown.

“The system relies on proper training and it didn’t work,” said the editor, Rob Brill.

Technology is just part and parcel of the brave new world of roads. Already it can blip a card in a windshield to send a bill, photograph a license plate to levy a fine, sense a car’s weight or track a cell phone anonymously to monitor traffic patterns — and does, in Georgia.

The technology can be helpful, by letting the Department of Transportation know whether a road needs fixing, warning drivers of congestion ahead, or tripping traffic light changes. The 200,000 Ga. 400 drivers with Cruise Cards already are tracked at one point, with their moves through the toll plaza date-stamped in their accounts. But looking in every car, and counting passengers inside, is something new.

With the sudden popularity of high-occupancy toll lanes, the time is ripe for it, said Jim Alves, director of intelligent transportation for JAI Pulnix, a high-tech camera company.

“Industry reacts to a market need that is close enough in time to reap a return on their investment,” said Alves, who hopes his company’s cameras will be chosen for a testing program in San Diego.

“There’s so much talk going on with HOT lanes that a lot of companies are [developing products],” he said.

Five HOT lane systems are in operation in the U.S. Twenty others are being implemented or studied, said Bob Poole, a public-private road projects advocate from the Reason Foundation in California.

San Diego’s HOT lane system is already operating, but is considering adding technology to count cars’ occupants. The San Diego Association of Governments emphasizes that the public will have a say before it tests anything.

In Georgia, DOT Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl said the state intends to protect privacy. He said it’s too early to know what technology Georgia would use and who — including law enforcement — would have access to the data.

“I think we can very safely say that we are interested in using the most advanced technology possible,” Linnenkohl added. “And if that technology does progress to a point where we do not have to have any physical human body out there doing some type of monitoring, that would be where we would like to be.”

Staff researcher Richard Hallman contributed to this article.

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: July 25, 2006, 3:58 am | Comments Off

HOPE Speaker Arrested by the Feds

Security Fix just learned that Steven Rambam, the owner and CEO of Pallorium Inc., a company that bills itself as the largest privately held online investigative service in the United States, was arrested this afternoon by FBI agents just moments before he was to lead a panel discussion on privacy here at the HOPE hacker conference in New York City.

Details are sketchy at the moment, but Rambam’s fellow panelists said four men clad in dark blue FBI jackets quietly entered the auditorium, asked Rambam if he had any weapons on him, and then escorted him out the door along with his laptop and other equipment that contained the PowerPoint slides that were to make up the bulk of his scheduled two-hour presentation.

“If you know Steve then you know he’s very flamoyant, and at first I thought it was just PR, you know?” said Kelly Riddle, a private investigator from San Antonio who was to speak alongside Rambam. “So, they asked him to step out in the hallway, placed the handcuffs on him and started to lead him off.”

Rambam was going to discuss how he dug up — in just 4.5 hours of searching private and public databases — more than 500 pages worth of data on HOPE attendee Rick Dakan, who agreed to be the guinea pig for the project.

“All I had given him was my e-mail and name. He knew everywhere I’d lived, every car I had driven, and even someone else in Alabama who was using my Social Security number since 1983,” said Dakan, who said he is attending this conference for a book he is working on about hacker conferences. “He found all my friends, pictures of friends, knew about my brother’s criminal history.”

Conference founder Emmanuel Goldstein said organizers were trying to figure out where the FBI had taken Rambam, and were contacting his parents and his lawyer. “We’re going to find out where Steve is and we’ll keep you updated,” Goldstein said.

Security Fix hasn’t had time to confirm the arrest. I’ll try to keep you updated.

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: July 23, 2006, 3:49 am | Comments Off

ASG has expanded operation in the State of Texas. For more information visit or

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: July 18, 2006, 1:22 pm | Comments Off

A simple airline stub, picked out of a bin near Heathrow, led Steve
Boggan to investigate a shocking breach of security

Steve Boggan
Wednesday May 3, 2006


This is the story of a piece of paper no bigger than a credit card,
thrown away in a dustbin on the Heathrow Express to Paddington
station. It was nestling among chewing gum wrappers and baggage tags,
cast off by some weary traveller, when I first laid eyes on it just
over a month ago.

The traveller’s name was Mark Broer. I know this because the paper -
actually a flimsy piece of card - was a discarded British Airways
boarding-pass stub, the small section of the pass displaying your name
and seat number. The stub you probably throw away as soon as you leave
your flight.

It said Broer had flown from Brussels to London on March 15 at 7.10am
on BA flight 389 in seat 03C. It also told me he was a “Gold” standard
passenger and gave me his frequent-flyer number. I picked up the stub,
mindful of a conversation I had had with a computer security expert
two months earlier, and put it in my pocket.

If the expert was right, this stub would enable me to access Broer’s
personal information, including his passport number, date of birth and
nationality. It would provide the building blocks for stealing his
identity, ruining his future travel plans - and even allow me to fake
his passport.

It would also serve as the perfect tool for demonstrating the chaotic
collection, storage and security of personal information gathered as a
result of America’s near-fanatical desire to collect data on
travellers flying to the US - and raise serious questions about the
sort of problems we can expect when ID cards are introduced in 2008.

To understand why the piece of paper I found on the Heathrow Express
is important, it is necessary to go back not, as you might expect, to
9/11, but to 1996 and the crash of TWA Flight 800 over Long Island
Sound, 12 minutes out of New York, with the loss of 230 lives.
Initially, crash investigators suspected a terrorist bomb might have
brought down the aircraft. This was later ruled out, but already the
Clinton administration had decided it was time to devise a security
system that would weed out potential terrorists before they boarded a
flight. This was called Capps, the Computer Assisted Passenger
Pre-screening System.

It was a prosaic, relatively unambitious idea at first. For example,
in highly simplistic terms, if someone bought a one-way ticket, paid
in cash and checked in no baggage, they would be flagged up as an
individual who had no intention of arriving or of going home. A
bomber, perhaps.

After 9/11, the ambitions for such screening grew exponentially and
the newly founded Department of Homeland Security began inviting
computer companies to develop intelligent systems that could “mine”
data on individuals, whizzing round state, private and public
databases to establish what kind of person was buying the ticket.

In 2003, one of the pioneers of the system, speaking anonymously, told
me that the project, by now called Capps II, was being designed to
designate travellers as green, amber or red risks. Green would be an
individual with no criminal record - a US citizen, perhaps, who had a
steady job and a settled home, was a frequent flyer and so on. Amber
would be someone who had not provided enough information to confirm
all of this and who might be stopped at US Immigration and asked to
provide clearer proof of ID. Red would be someone who might be linked
to an ever-growing list of suspected terrorists - or someone whose
name matched such a suspect.

“If you are an American who has volunteered lots of details proving
that you are who you say you are, that you have a stable home, live in
a community, aren’t a criminal, [Capps II] will flag you up as green
and you will be automatically allowed on to your flight,” the pioneer
told me. “The problem is that if the system doesn’t have a lot of
information on you, or you have ordered a halal meal, or have a name
similar to a known terrorist, or even if you are a foreigner, you’ll
most likely be flagged amber and held back to be asked for further
details. If you are European and the US government is short of
information on you - or, as is likely, has incorrect information on
you - you can reckon on delay after delay unless you agree to let them
delve into your private details.

“That is inconvenient enough but, as we tested the system, it became
clear that information was going to be used to build a complete
picture of you from lots of private databases - your credit record,
your travel history, your criminal record, whether you had the
remotest dubious links with anyone at your college who became a
terrorist. I began to feel more and more uncomfortable about it.”

Eventually, he quit the programme.

All of this was on my mind as I sat down with my computer expert, Adam
Laurie, one of the founders of a company called the Bunker Secure
Hosting, to examine Broer’s boarding-pass stub. Laurie is known in
cyber-circles as something of a white knight, a computer wizard who
not only advises companies on how to make their systems secure, but
also cares about civil rights and privacy. He and his brother Ben are
renowned among web designers as the men who developed Apache SSL - the
software that makes most of the world’s web pages secure - and then
gave it away for free.

We logged on to the BA website, bought a ticket in Broer’s name and
then, using the frequent flyer number on his boarding pass stub,
without typing in a password, were given full access to all his
personal details - including his passport number, the date it expired,
his nationality (he is Dutch, living in the UK) and his date of birth.
The system even allowed us to change the information.

Using this information and surfing publicly available databases, we
were able - within 15 minutes - to find out where Broer lived, who
lived there with him, where he worked, which universities he had
attended and even how much his house was worth when he bought it two
years ago. (This was particularly easy given his unusual name, but it
would have been possible even if his name had been John Smith. We now
had his date of birth and passport number, so we would have known
exactly which John Smith.)

Laurie was anything but smug.

“This is terrible,” he said. “It just shows what happens when
governments begin demanding more and more of our personal information
and then entrust it to companies simply not geared up for collecting
or securing it as it gets shared around more and more people. It
doesn’t enhance our security; it undermines it.”

Just over $100m had been spent on Capps II before it was scrapped in
July 2004. Campaigners in the US had objected to it on grounds of
privacy, and airlines such as JetBlue and American faced boycotts when
it emerged that they were involved in trials - handing over passenger
information - with the Department of Homeland Security’s
Transportation Security Administration. Even worse, JetBlue admitted
it had given the private records of 5 million passengers to a
commercial company for analysis - and some of this was posted on the internet.

But the problems did not end with the demise of Capps II. Earlier that
month, after 18 months of acrimonious negotiation, the EU caved in to
American demands that European airlines, too, should hand over
passenger information to the United States Bureau of Customs and
Border Protection, BCBP, before their aircraft would be allowed to
land on US soil. The BCBP wanted up to 60 pieces of information
routinely gathered by booking agencies and stored as a Passenger Name
Record, PNR. This included not only your flight details, name, address
and so on, but also your travel itinerary, where you were staying,
with whom you travelled, whether you booked a hire car in the US,
whether you booked a smoking room in your hotel, even if you ordered a
halal or kosher meal. And the US authorities wanted to keep it all for
50 years.

At first, the European Commission argued that surrendering such
information would be in breach of European data protection law.
Eventually, however, in the face of huge fines for airlines and
cancelled landing slots, it agreed that 34 items from PNRs could be
handed over and kept by the US for three and a half years.

Capps II was superseded by a new system called Secure Flight in August
2004. Later, in October last year, the BCBP demanded that airlines
travelling to, or through, the US should forward “advance passenger
information”, including passport number and date of birth, before
passengers would be allowed to travel. It called this the advance
passenger information system, or APIS. This is the information that
Laurie and I had accessed through the BA website.

“The problem here is that a commercial organisation is being given the
task of collecting data on behalf of a foreign government, for which
it gets no financial reward, and which offers no business benefit in
return,” says Laurie. “Naturally, in such a case, they will seek to
minimise their costs, which they do by handing the problem off to the
passengers themselves. This has the neat side-effect of also handing
off liability for data errors.

“You can imagine the case where a businessman’s trip gets delayed
because his passport details were incorrectly entered and he was
mistaken for a terrorist. Since BA didn’t enter the data - frequent
flyers are asked to do it themselves - they can’t be held responsible
and can’t be sued for his lost business.”

By the time I found the ticket stub and went to Laurie, he had already
reported his suspicions about a potential security lapse to BA (on
January 20) by email. He received no response, so followed up with a
telephone call asking for the airline’s security officer. He was told
there wasn’t one, so he explained the lapse to an employee. Nothing
was done and he still has not been contacted.

Three months ago, after further objections in the US, but before our
investigation, Secure Flight was suspended after costing the US
taxpayer $144m. At the time, Kip Hawley, transportation security
administrator, said: “While the Secure Flight regulation is being
developed, this is the time to ensure that the Secure Flight security,
operational and privacy foundation is solid.”

The TSA said it would continue its passenger pre-screening programme
in yet another guise after it had been audited and added that it had
plans to introduce more security, privacy and redress for errors -
confirming critics’ suspicions that no such systems were yet in place.
To the consternation of privacy activists in Europe, the TSA also
spelled out plans for its desire for various US government departments
to share information, including yours and mine.

Dr Gus Hosein, a visiting fellow specialising in privacy and terrorism
at the London School of Economics, is concerned about where the whole
project will go next.

“They want to extend the advance passenger information system [APIS]
to include data on where passengers are going and where they are
staying because of concerns over plagues,” he says. “For example, if
bird flu breaks out, they want to know where all the foreign
travellers are. The airlines hate this. It is a security nightmare.
Soon the US will demand biometric information [fingerprints, retina
scans etc] and they will share that around.

“But what the BA lapse shows is that companies cannot be trusted to
gather this information without it getting out to criminals who would
abuse it. The potential for identity theft is huge, but the number of
agencies among which it will be shared is just growing and growing.”

And that is where concern comes in over the UK’s proposed ID cards,
which may one day be needed to travel to the US. According to the Home
Office, the identity cards bill currently going through Parliament
allows for up to 40 pieces of personal information to be held on the
proposed ID card, with digital biometric details of all of your
fingerprints, both your irises and your face, all of which can be
transmitted to electronic readers. The cards will contain a microchip
the size of a grain of sand linked to a tiny embedded antenna that
transmits all the information when contacted by an electronic reader.

This readable system, known as Radio Frequency Identification, or
RFID, has recently been installed in new British passports. The Home
Office says the information can be transmitted across a distance of
only a couple of centimetres because the chips have no power of their
own - they simply bounce back a response to a weak signal sent from
passport readers at immigration points.

However, the suspicion is that the distance over which the signal can
be read relates only to the weakness of the signal sent out by the
readers. What if the readers sent out much stronger signals?
Potentially, then, criminals with powerful readers could suck out your
information as you passed by. The Government denies that this scenario
is viable, but, in January, Dutch security specialists Riscure
successfully read and de-encrypted information from its country’s new
biometric passports from a distance of about 30ft in just two hours.

“The Home Office says British passport information is encrypted, but
it’s a pretty basic form of encryption,” says Hosein. “Everyone
expects the ID cards to be equally insecure. If the government insists
they won’t be cracked, read or copied, they’re kidding themselves and us.”

BA has now closed its security loophole after being contacted by the
Guardian in March, but that particular lapse is beside the point.
Because of the pressure being applied to airlines by the US, breaches
will happen again elsewhere as our personal data whizzes around the
globe, often without our knowledge or consent.

Meanwhile, accountability remains lamentable. Several calls to the US
Transportation Security Administration were not returned.

Perhaps the last word should go to Mark Broer, the man whose boarding
pass stub started off this virtual paper chase. He is aged 41 and is a
successful executive with a pharmaceutical recruitment company. When I
told him what we had done with his boarding pass stub, he was appalled.

“I travel regularly and, because I go to the US, I submitted my
personal information and passport number - it is required if you are a
frequent flyer and want to check yourself in,” he says. “Experienced
travellers today know that they have to give up information for ease
of travel and to fight terrorism. It is an exchange of information in
return for convenience. But as far as I’m concerned, having that
information leaked out to people who could steal my identity wasn’t
part of the deal.”

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: May 5, 2006, 3:32 am | Comments Off

Jan 18, 2006, 07:22 PM

A get-tough policy by Brown County more than doubled the number of tenants kicked out of a housing subsidy program.

The current program is called the Housing Choice Voucher program, and we serve approximately 3,000 households in Brown County, housing director Keith Pamperin said.

The county program helps low-income families get affordable housing. Rent and utility checks are sent from the county directly to the recipient’s landlord.

The program’s applicants have always been screened but last February the Housing Authority became so concerned about fraud in the program that it hired a private investigator. Bob Langan, a retired Green Bay police chief, took the job.

It’s been a substantial amount of work, said Langan. We do the screening with the criminal work, and we also investigate complaints that are brought in against existing recipients of the program.

In 2004, 242 tenants were terminated from the program. Compare that to 518 this past year.

We do believe that some portion of those terminations are because of more intense screening activities and fraud detections, Pamperin said.

And, for the first time, the Housing Authority banned a landlord from the program. Find out why on Action 2 News at Six.

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: February 7, 2006, 4:23 am | Comments Off

Brenda Sapino Jeffreys
Texas Lawyer

In a perfect world, firms could employ private investigators who are as skilled as pseudo-bumbling television police detective Columbo, Dallas lawyer William Brewer III says.

That’s rarely the case when Brewer contracts with private investigation companies to help with litigation at 35-lawyer Bickel & Brewer, so the firm launched its own investigative unit in January. It’s staffed by three former agents and a former training instructor with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“It saves the clients money, because it’s more efficient,” says Brewer, a partner in the firm. “The thing that bothers us all too often [with outside investigators] is we are paying rates . . . for investigators that charge like lawyers, but who deliver sporadic quality.”

Brewer says the firm’s new in-house investigators will do a better job than outside investigators, because they will work closely with the firm’s attorneys on litigation and have a better handle on the information that’s needed.

“They can help you review the evidence and help in the advocacy,” Brewer says, noting the firm uses investigators in 90 percent of the civil suits on its docket.

All too often, Brewer says, reports from outside investigation firms prompt him to scratch his head and wonder, “How is this useful?”

Bickel & Brewer isn’t the first Texas firm to have PIs on staff. But Bickel & Brewer, which also employs consultants with degrees in tax, finance and engineering, may be taking the concept to a new level by launching such a large unit of in-house PIs.

“It’s been tradition on the plaintiffs side to have one, because they are doing so much investigation on PI cases,” says Thomas Ajamie, of Ajamie LLP in Houston. “You can see how a medium- to large-size commercial law firm would benefit. It would make a lot of sense.”

Investigative work is simply too important for Bickel & Brewer, which handles securities and large commercial suits, to rely upon a spotty network of outside investigators, Brewer says.

Rusty Hardin, of Rusty Hardin & Associates in Houston, is another trial lawyer in Texas convinced that having an investigator in-house at a firm is the way to go.

“I don’t understand why more firms don’t do it,” says Hardin, whose firm handles civil and criminal work. “I am constantly shaking my head at the number of large firms that call us for a reference for an investigator.”

Hardin says Jim Yarbrough, a former Houston Police Department homicide investigator, has worked at his firm for four years. Hardin says Yarbrough is a tremendous asset, particularly for the firm’s civil work.

Hardin notes that law enforcement officers do a better job at witness interviews than lawyers, and at investigations. It’s also cheaper for clients, Hardin says.

“I would much rather have an investigator at $150 an hour interviewing people — and the client would — than being charged $300 or so by a lawyer,” Hardin says.

Even though his firm has only nine lawyers, Hardin says he is seriously considering employing a second investigator.

Plaintiffs lawyer Mikal Watts says he employs eight investigators at his firm, the 27-lawyer Watts Law Firm in Corpus Christi. It’s efficient, he says. Watts says he usually employs former Corpus Christi police officers.

The firm does a lot of automotive litigation, and Watts says some of the investigators he employs “are real specialized in terms of being able to do seat-belt analysis and knowing how to document the scene of an accident.”

Brewer says he frequently uses investigators to help develop a case outside of the formal discovery process.

“One way to go in preparing a complex case is to take 100 depositions. Another way to do it is to find out which people may have information [and] who are relevant to the case, and send a seasoned professional to go out and interview them, like Columbo,” Brewer says.

That informal discovery can be much more efficient than depositions, he says.

Brewer believes the in-house PIs will cost clients 30 percent to 50 percent less than outside investigators. That has been the experience with the other trial consultants who work for the firm, including employees with degrees in economics and engineering, certified public accountants, tax examiners and technology experts.

“At a firm like ours, these people are worth their weight in gold. We do securities suits, lots of markets investigations,” he says.

The firm doesn’t sell any of the consulting services to other lawyers, despite requests, Brewer says.

John Dillon, the head of the investigation team at Bickel & Brewer, says he expects the lawyers at the firm to ask him and his team to conduct witness interviews most often. He says those interviews will be effective, because the investigative unit will work closely with the lawyers on the litigation and learn the “big picture” of what the suit is about.

Prior to joining Bickel & Brewer, Dillon was the white-collar crime coordinator for the Dallas Division of the FBI. The other members of the unit are LeeAnn Revell, Bradford Wheeler and George Webb.

Big Bills

But some lawyers aren’t ready to employ investigators at their firms.

Houston trial lawyer Stephen Susman says the idea has some merit, as long as the firm doesn’t use the investigation unit as a profit center by taking on work for other lawyers.

Susman, a partner in Susman Godfrey, says he occasionally hires outside investigators, but usually has legal assistants or associates handle gumshoe work. For instance, Susman says, if a lawyer at his firm needs to serve a complaint, a legal assistant at the firm uses the Internet to find addresses. The assistant may also do online research on a corporation the firm is preparing to sue, he says.

Susman says he has hired a private investigator if the work is beyond the abilities of the legal assistant or associate, but he’s not always pleased with the results.

“Frequently the bill gets out of hand. It’s a huge bill. I’m upset with it,” he says.

Many Texas lawyers do use retired law enforcement officers for investigation work on an ad hoc basis.

David Finn, a partner in Milner & Finn in Dallas who handles criminal-defense and white-collar crime work, says he hires a retired Texas Department of Public Safety officer when he needs an investigator for a particular case. He says he doesn’t have need for a full-time investigator on staff.

Finn says there are times when it’s better to send an outside investigator to a witness interview than a lawyer. One situation is when he fears a witness may change his testimony, and he needs to be able to put the investigator on the witness stand to impeach that witness. Another situation is in a messy divorce, Finn says, when he wants to prevent a witness from making false accusations that he or another lawyer at the firm harassed or threatened the witness.

Finn says cost is the primary drawback to having PIs employed by a firm.

“I can see some benefits to that, if you have the volume and the workload to keep . . . top-flight investigators busy, and they understand your nuances, how you like things,” Finn says. “The only downside would be if one of your employees harasses, threatens or hurts someone. There’s a liability issue — did you sanction this, condone this?”

“Short of that, I see some benefits,” he adds.

Ajamie, who does securities work, says he has many international clients and hires investigators around the world to assist with discovery, but doesn’t have one in-house. For instance, Ajamie says, he has a client in Paris who lost a lot of money through a brokerage company in Monte Carlo. Ajamie says he hired an investigator to check out the broker and his financial condition, and to see if others have complaints about the brokerage.

Paul Coggins, a principal in Fish & Richardson in Dallas, says his firm does not employ in-house investigators but he occasionally hires outside investigators for certain cases.

“If they are not on staff then you sort of pick and choose, you get a little bit more flexibility,” Coggins says.

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: February 6, 2006, 8:06 am | Comments Off

Private eyes favoured over police


Increasing numbers of Rotorua burglary victims frustrated by police responses are turning to private investigators to resolve crimes.
Local investigators say calls from people inquiring about their services following crimes like burglaries are on the rise.
While most people sympathise with police, who are unable to spend a lot of time investigating some crimes, they are frustrated about having to pay for a service they believe should be provided by police.

Rotorua private investigator Mike Dingwall from Private Investigations Ltd said he received up to three inquiries a week from people keen to book his services to track down burglars.

Many did not go through with it because of the cost but he had worked for about three burglary victims since November, he said.
A former Rotorua police senior sergeant, Mr Dingwall has been a private investigator for three years and said the number of people inquiring about his services to catch burglars had increased in that time.
Mr Dingwall said society was unfortunately moving towards a user-pays system which included crime-solving.

“If you want someone to do a good burglary examination, you have to pay someone.
“Once at big rugby games, the ground would be patrolled by police officers, now it’s security guards.”

Mr Dingwall said there was now more demand for police resources.

“Police try their best to deliver a good service and we’re not anti police at all. In fact, we see ourselves as complementing what they do … The only other solution is to have more police and that’s not very likely.”

Acting Rotorua police area controller Inspector Steve Bullock said burglaries were the top priority for local police.

He said police responded automatically if a burglar was still on a property and attended as soon as they could to reports of historic burglaries.

“We try to ensure we give the best service as possible and it’s also in our best interests to get to a burglary scene early.”

Mr Bullock said hiring private investigators was not new and he questioned its value.

“I would be surprised if a private investigator could provide a better investigative service than what we can.”

Last year, Rotorua police caught 190 burglars, solving hundreds of burglaries. The number of reported burglaries dropped 15 per cent last year.

Mr Bullock said hiring a private investigator was a personal choice.

“As far as I’m concerned police provide a response to burglaries as soon as we can and as professionally as we can … In saying that, we are reviewing our responses constantly.”

Former Rotorua senior sergeant Mike Campbell, now a private investigator in Auckland, said the public had always been dissatisfied with the level of policing - even 24 years ago when he was in the force.

“The things people were complaining about in 1981 are the same things they are complaining about today.”

Mr Campbell said he believed members of the public wrongly thought it was up to the police to find their burglars.

“About 90 per cent of my business right around New Zealand is investigating criminal activity. Police certainly have a role and they work in with PIs.

“There is a thin blue line to enforce the laws in the country.

“We would need an army of police if they were expected to enforce everything. It just can’t happen.”

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: February 1, 2006, 3:39 am | Comments Off

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - A former Beverly Hills police officer and the ex-wife of actor Keith Carradine pleaded guilty to federal charges in a wiretapping investigation that authorities say involves imprisoned Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano.

Craig Stevens, 45, of Oak Park pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to two counts of wire fraud and four counts of unauthorized access of protected computers to commit fraud.

Stevens, who had worked for the Beverly Hills Police Department since 1982, could face up to 35 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 16.

Sandra Carradine, 58, of Carpenteria pleaded guilty during a closed court hearing Friday to two counts of perjury. Her attorney said Carradine and Pellicano were dating when she hired him to investigate her ex-husband.

She faces up to 10 years in prison. Her sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 25.

Authorities said the guilty pleas were part of an ongoing FBI case involving Pellicano, who is being investigated by a grand jury for possible illegal wiretaps on behalf of lawyers and their clients.

The private detective is scheduled to be released next month from federal prison after completing a 30-month sentence for possessing illegal weapons.

Both the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment Tuesday about the investigation of Pellicano, who has worked for a number of celebrities, including Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Sylvester Stallone.

According to court documents, Carradine admitted she lied to a grand jury in October 2004 when she denied knowing that Pellicano wiretapped her former husband’s phone.

“There wasn’t really a sinister reason behind this,” said her attorney, Peter Knecht. “She was trying to do what was right by her kids. She agreed to plead guilty and accept responsibility.”

Stevens admitted he used Beverly Hills Police Department computers to obtain information from the Department of Motor Vehicles about four people, then sold it to Pellicano, authorities said. He also lied to FBI agents when he denied providing information to Pellicano or receiving payments from him, prosecutors said.

Stevens resigned from the department on Friday. His attorney, Michael Schwartz, did not return a call Tuesday.

Pellicano and a co-defendant have been indicted for allegedly making criminal threats against a Los Angeles Times reporter who was working on a story about actor Steven Seagal and possible links to the Mafia.

Pellicano allegedly hired a man who went to the reporter’s home in April 2002 and placed a dead fish with a rose in its mouth on a car windshield. A sign with the word “stop” was also placed on the windshield, according to court documents.

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: January 29, 2006, 3:55 am | Comments Off

Units for monitoring vehicles are readily available on the Internet.

Tracking devices, such as the one former Columbia police officer Todd Smith allegedly placed in his ex-girlfriend’s car, are readily available on the Internet and are used for everything from monitoring teenagers’ driving habits to managing shipping fleets.

Police Chief Randy Boehm fired Smith on Dec. 30 after an internal investigation of allegations by Smith’s former girlfriend that the officer had stalked her with telephone calls, letters and a Global Positioning System tracking device that she discovered in her car. The accusations led to Smith’s arrest; Special Prosecutor Mason Gebhardt on Friday charged Smith with a single count of stalking.

Capt. Mike Martin said Smith’s case is the first Columbia police have seen involving the alleged use of a tracking device for stalking. He said he expects advancements in technology will bring an increase in such crimes.

A simple Internet search for “GPS tracking devices” brings up a list of options ranging in price and capability. Some must be installed, while others run on batteries and can simply be placed in a vehicle or attached to the outside with magnets.

There are two main types of GPS tracking devices — real-time and passive. Real-time devices are more expensive and allow users to use the supplier’s Web page to see in real time everywhere the tracked vehicle goes.

Passive units are cheaper and save data that the user later must download using software provided with the product. Some types allow the user to get the information remotely if his or her computer is close to the tracking device. Others require the user to either retrieve the unit or its memory card. Passive units record where the vehicle stopped, how long it was there and how fast it was driven.

What Martin described in an earlier interview is indicative of a passive device. It did not relay data in real time, he said, but “he knew where she was, when she got there and how long she was there. He knew every place she went and where she moved. This is not permitted.”

Wayne Johnson is director of sales for ­Discrete Wireless, a company that sells GPS tracking units for fleet management. He said tracking devices are becoming more popular.

“The market’s fairly new, and the cost of equipment is not conducive to get to the consumer model yet, but it’s coming,” Johnson said. “As scale and demand grow, you get more economies of scale to get to that marketplace.”

Besides helping companies manage fleets by tracking hours, fuel use and productivity, these deviceshave other common uses, Johnson said. They can enable parents to track the driving habits of teenagers and or allow people to track the vehicles of elderly parents to ensure their safety.

Johnson said the devices gather information from the GPS satellite constellation developed by the U.S. Department of Defense. The tracking units must receive signals from at least three satellites to triangulate a point, revealing the location of the receiver in terms of latitude and longitude.

The tracking units sold by Discrete Wireless must be installed and are not the same as what he called “quick-tracker” units that can simply be placed in or attached to the outside of a vehicle. Johnson called this form of tracking “a very gray market.”

“Most of those guys who are getting information that way are pretty shady,” Johnson said.

Although Smith allegedly used a vehicle tracking device to stalk his former girlfriend, Columbia private investigator Ron Rugen said the devices do not deserve a bad name.

“Anything can be used in a wrong manner and abused, and it sounds like this was,” he said. “It is not a bad thing to be in existence as long as it is used within the law.”

Rugen said he has used a tracking device only a few times in instances involving parents concerned about their children. In those cases, he put the devices in vehicles with the owners’ consent. He said he won’t use the technology in other types of cases because he is unsure where the law stands.

“I would rather not use something when I don’t know for sure,” Rugen said. “I like to err on the side of caution.”

Rugen said he thinks the law will become more specific as the devices become more common.

Dawn Parsons, chair of the Criminal Law and Procedure Committee for the Missouri Bar, said that because this technology is relatively new, the law does not specifically outline how to deal with it. She said the legal risks vary with each situation.

“The monitoring device itself is not necessarily per se illegal,” Parsons said. “It’s what you’re doing with it.”

Parsons said she thinks misuse of the devices could be just beginning.

“I think as technology gets better and less expensive and more people get access, I think we’ll see more abuses,” Parsons said.

Although prosecutor Gebhardt said Smith’s alleged use of a tracking device is especially disturbing, he said Friday that it was not the only reason he charged Smith.

“The other things in and of themselves would have been enough for a stalking charge,” Gebhardt said. “It was a pattern of behavior not appropriate for an officer.”

Posted by site admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: January 29, 2006, 3:48 am | Comments Off

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