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Identifying and Reporting Cyber Harassment

(We’re wrapped up in several serious cyber harassment cases at the moment and are sharing several tips on how to handle these type situations that cross over into criminality.  All too frequently we feel our hands are tied in trying to protect ourselves, our businesses and families from this type of harassment but in reality, the reporting protocol for these type incidents already exists.  Below is information on how to report cyber harassment.)

Cyber harassment refers to the malicious use of technology to willfully and deliberately harass or harm another individual or entity.  Cyber harassment can qualify as a federal crime.  Undoubtedly though, it is a scary experience for the victim. If you are in fear of imminent danger to your welfare or that of  others,  call 911 immediately to report the harassment.

Instructions  

1.  Determine whether you are the victim of cyber harassment. The lines between genuine cyber harassment and general nuisance are blurry, so it can be difficult to substantiate a claim of Internet harassment. If someone is threatening you with violence and you genuinely fear for your safety and well-being, you might meet the criteria of being a victim. It is important to note that hacking, cyber spying and cyber stalking are not forms of Internet harassment. The first two are not necessarily criminal activities, depending on the nature of the offender’s behavior, and the latter is a separate crime, which should be reported and addressed differently than cyber harassment, defined by the Federal Anti-Cyber-Stalking Act.

2.  Do what you can to reduce or prevent further Internet harassment from occurring. This includes changing your email address, screen names and member names for instant messaging programs and social networking websites; applying private settings to your profiles and websites that currently are public; and ceasing all contact with the person who is harassing you. You must demonstrate that you have taken steps to stop the person from harassing you. If you communicate continuously with the individual who is harassing you, your chances of  being able to report and stop Internet harassment will drop significantly.

3.  Gather as much information as you can about the individual harassing you. This can prove to be quite difficult given the anonymous nature of the Internet, but technology allows law enforcement to track down anonymous harassers by using multiple methods. Develop a log that includes email addresses, screen names, and website and social networking profile URLs that belong to the person/people harassing you. Save and print emails and conversations, create “screen grabs” or screenshots of websites or profiles with threatening or malicious content, and keep track of the offender’s every attempt to contact you. A detailed log containing dates, times and places will help you immensely when you report cyber harassment. If possible, also try to locate and write down the offender’s Internet Protocol (IP) address.

4.  Contact your local law enforcement agency and ask to report cyber harassment. Use the police department’s non-emergency (administrative) telephone number or visit in person to make your report. Be prepared to provide information you have detailed in your log.   If you know the offender’s (even general) location, you can contact his local police department or file a report with both precincts. Be sure to get a copy of any police report you file.

5.  Contact your local FBI field office if your local police department is unable to or uninterested in pursuing your report. You can locate your local office using the FBI’s field office locator online, or ask you local police department for the information. Always attempt to make a report with your local police department before contacting the FBI, unless you have reason to believe the harassment is terroristic in nature,  (e.g., the offender is threatening to plant a bomb or commit a school shooting).

6.  Contact a cyber harassment watch group for more assistance. While your matter is under investigation, you can contact an organization such as WiredSafety for further assistance and general support. Note that this type organization is not a governmental or law enforcement agency and you should not rely on these private groups as an alternative to law enforcement authorities.

As always, stay safe.

Slip/Trip and Fall Intake; Info Gathering.

person falling

One of most common type incidents that a private detective is requested to investigate is a slip/trip and fall.  Below is primary information required after such an event.

1. CLIENT PEDIGREE (to include name, address, phone #, DOB, SSN,employment/scholastic and licensed driver info and emergency contacts)

2. WEATHER CONDITIONS

3. LIGHTING CONDITIONS

4. SURFACE DESCRIPTION (sidewalk, hallway, stairs…)

5. DEBRIS/DISREPAIR/CONSTRUCTION PRESENT

6. DESCRIPTION OF SURFACE (concrete, torn matting, tile…)

7. PRESENCE OF ANY WARNING SIGNS (e.g. wet floor cones, signs…)

8. DIRECTION OF TRAVEL OF PARTICIPANTS (northbound, descending steps…)

9. DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT (detailed, including, for exterior falls in snow and ice, how long the condition had existed)

10. ALCOHOL/DRUG INVOLVEMENT

11. WHERE WAS THE CLIENT GOING?

12. RATE OF WALK (normal gait, walking briskly… )

13. TYPE OF SHOES WORN

14. CONDITION OF SHOES (new, good, worn.. )

15. DOES THE CLIENT STILL HAVE THE FOOTWEAR?

16. OBSERVABLE INJURIES SUSTAINED (detailed)

17. MEDICAL ATTENTION RECEIVED AT SCENE

18. EMERGENCY/OFFICIAL VEHICLE AND PERSONNEL RESPONSE

19. STATEMENT(S) MADE AT SCENE

20. ADDITIONAL WITNESSES

21. DOES THE CLIENT KNOW OF ANY OTHER SIMILAR PRIOR INCIDENTS AT SAID LOCATION?

22. HAD THE CLIENT COMPLAINED TO MANAGEMENT OF EXISTING RELATED CONDITIONS?

23. DOES THE CLIENT KNOW OF ANYONE ELSE WHO MAY HAVE MADE SIMILAR PRIOR COMPLAINTS TO MANAGEMENT?

24. COPY OF CLIENT’S LEASE.

25. MANAGEMENT INFORMATION, IF KNOWN.

26. MUNICIPALITY INVOLVED?

Additional related searches you may opt to have your investigator conduct: real property search, weather check and prior incidents (lawsuits filed for similar situation v. the same property owner.    Rarely, in these situations, do our clients ask us to conduct a financial background check on their clients (to determine if there are active liens, judgments, bankruptcies.. .), preferring to question their own clients on this matter.  We do however have that capability and generally, that type of search, pending the case level, should include joint (spouse) information.

BNI Operatives: : Street smart; web savvy.

As always, stay safe.

Daughter Costs Dad $80,000 on FaceBook; The Latest Post & Pay.

facebook post

There was a time when parents worried about their daughters posting naked pictures on Facebook.  Now the fear is that she’ll post family secrets.

Welcome to the Brave New Tech World where family meetings will require CLEs for the kiddies. In this case:  On breaking confidentiality agreements.

Case Background:

Patrick Snay, former  headmaster for Gulliver Preparatory School, did not have his contract renewed by the school in 2010.  Snay sued the school, allegeding age discrimination.  Probably to avert the expense of a protracted legal battle  and a possible jury trial and Snay, to avoid being locked in litigation for years, the school and Snay came to a settlement agreement for $80,000.

As is common in settlements of this kind, the agreement contained a confidentiality clause. For those learning the rules of the game at home,  a confidentiality clause means that neither Snay, nor the school, could talk about the settlement. Fairly simple, right?

What The Girl Did:

Apparently daughter Dana Snay didn’t  get the email.   Several days after the settlement agreement was signed, she posted this to her 1,200 Facebook friends, according to the Miami Herald:

“Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver,” “Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”

Oh it sucks alright.

What The Court Did:

A Florida court immediately threw out the $80,000 settlement. Patrick Snay violated confidentiality when he told his daughter, and his daughter totally blew out the agreement on Facebook.

Why Confidentiality Clauses Are Included in Settlement Agreements:

A settlement agreement does not assign fault or liability to the parties involved in the cause of legal action that generates a law suit.  The Gulliver school did not admit to discriminating against  Patrick Snay and on his part, it was worth the $80,000 agreement to get on with his life.   By claiming that”Mama and Papa Snay won the case” that  is exactly the kind of simplistic viewpoint that confidentiality agreements are designed to avoid.   The daughter’s comments impart the suggestion that the school had in fact discriminated against Mr. Snay and hence, the money award.  Not the case.  Gulliver did not concede or admit to discrimination.

Facebook conversations are not private. Come on, now. We all know this and if there is an important family or business matter in the know by a select group of people privy to this information, they need to know or be instructed to zip it.

Perhaps Dana Snay will go on to law school.  She has a great story as to how lawyering become her vocation.

BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

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