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    For the trial law and legal community from a private investigator's perspective. The Beacon Bulletin is the weekly newsletter authored and published by our parent company, Beacon Network Investigations, LLC (BNI). We're a private investigation company. We DON'T dispense legal advice, respond to anonymous queries or black hat your enemies for you. (Internally, however, points are alloted for perfectly wordsmithed compliments.) We DO hope to inform. That's our business.
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  • Recent Posts

Asset Searches: Defined By Matter Type and Scope

(Contact Beacon Network Investigations)

Generally, an asset search investigation is requested to determine a subject’s tangible assets-  quite often, ordered by a guardian ad litem to satisfy the court that there are no other recoverable assets when injuries exceed insurance policy limits, and just as often to determine financial stability of a prospective partner or employee, (the latter in a position of fiduciary trust).

 

A basic checklist for the legal professional is to:

1. Relay the need-to-know reason to your investigative specialist. A business partnership dissolution v. a medmal case requires a very different focus.

2. Obtain as much lead information from your client as possible. The more information the investigative specialist is given, quite often, the more she can return and, in a more cost-effective manner.

3. Local hard records are often more reliable than those compiled into generalized databases. The first step in recording any asset begins at a local level. Many information companies provide “nationwide” database information. The drawbacks to commencing an asset search on a “dumping ground” database basis first, however, are

a) records update lag (delays up to 18 months),

b) incorrect data collection errors (many nationwide databases can return results only with exact names – misspellings will often register “no hit” status) and

c) incomplete information.

Another aspect of an asset search is a true analysis of the date factors. For e.g., a real estate asset search may return with a negative hit for current property ownership but check the sale dates of the subject’s latest residences.  All too often we’ve come across a recent home sale, leaving the subject with a large sum of money.  Always pay attention to timelines.

So now you, the attorney,  have the subject’s tangible assets information. The subject owns a CPW pied-a-terre, a home in the Kensington section of Great Neck and a boat docked at the Huguenot Marina. The next step, from an investigative standpoint should be to determine if the subject has any liens, judgments, bankruptcies and other pending litigation, and from there, conduct a full criminal background check.

So how far is far enough with an asset search? Assess the potential settlement/judgment. For a large settlement/judgment, request a full background and asset search (certain convictions can prohibit a person from holding officer position in a business); medium settlement/judgment: basic background and asset search and for a small judgment: a basic asset search.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, be safe.

Is My DMV Record Public? How About My Voting History?? Public Records Checklist.

public-info

With the ease of information gathering these days, we are finding that many people are worried about their relevant data availability to the general public.  Many information brokering sites aggregate personal information from public records and it’s important to realize that most information is gathered through voluntary release from the individual (e.g., your date of birth from a subscription). Below we provide a checklist of common information that is public and that which requires additional permissions.

Personal public records may include some or all of the following information:

  • Name
  • Address.
  • Birth date/age
  • Names and contact information of family members
  • Names and contact information of neighbors
  • Political party affiliation
  • Past arrests, (and current) warrants and wants
  • Businesses or websites owned
  • Listed telephone numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Recorded real property records (developed/undeveloped)
  • Recorded motor vehicle records (vehicles, aircraft, boats registration)*
  • Hunting and fishing licenses
  • Credit header (includes name, dob and address, possibly employment)
  • Litigation history
*Check your state for publicly available vehicle registration and ownership records release. 

Personal information that requires additional permissions:

  • Bank records (require a judgment in hand before processing)
  • Medical records (require signed HIPAA releases from the individual)
    • Doctor’s records
    • Hospital records (including ambulance call sheets)
    • Urgent care facilities
    • Dental records
    • Drug and alcohol treatment centers
  • Credit score and history (require individual’s signed authorization for release)
  • Social Security Number (requires release by the individual)
  • Marriage and divorce records (require authorization from one of the parties involved)
  • Birth certificates (require the party’s authorization)
  • DMV driver’s history (requires the driver’s authorization)

Business/Government Public Records

Business and government public records generally come from information recorded within the business or agency itself. They are often more statistical in nature.

Some information that may be available on a business or government public record include:

  • Revenue
  • Number of employees
  • Fictitious business names
  • Collection items
  • Business credit score
  • Payment history
  • Business ownership

Just a point of information with our presidential election drawing near; currently, only your party affiliation is a public record.  Several states, including Florida and California, however, are fighting legal battles to have these public records include your choice in each election in which you voted.  Aside from marketing purposes by the major parties (and many of those practices are questionable), I see no real necessary purpose for these very personal records to become public fodder.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, be safe.

 

 

Situations and Professions at High Risk for Covert Surveillance.

This week we explore the situations and people  most likely to be covertly surveilled.  At the end of this article, we list the FBI‘s top professions most likely to encounter bugging situations.

Given the proliferation and ease of use now of “bugging” devices, the probability of being secretly recorded is higher than ever.   So under what circumstances and which professions are most likely to get bugged?

In Business

– Companies that have publicly traded stock (even more at risk, those about to IPO)

– Corporate entities experiencing labor problems, union activities or are in negotiation situations.

– Companies involved in any type of litigation or lawsuit.

– Businesses anticipating layoffs

– Companies involved in the fashion, automotive, advertising or marketing industries.

While anyone can be the target of covert eavesdropping, some people are at a higher risk than others because of financial status, occupation, legal or domestic situation.  These targets may include:

– Spouses involved in a divorce, child custody case or other serious financial situation.

– Teen drivers and kids (by their parents/guardians)

– Professors (by their students)

– Business people among themselves (intra/extra-company)

– Claimants by insurance companies

– Clients by salespeople

This list goes on ad infinitum, so when should you be seriously concerned?

You (and or someone close to you) is or have been:

– Involved in any type of litigation or lawsuit

– Been questioned or arrested by the police

– In the process of getting married, divorced, separated or recently widowed

– Running for any type of elected public office

– Recently filed an insurance claim

– Are an executive or scientist at any large company

– Engaged in political demonstrations or activism

– Are in the upper income brackets

Extreme High Risk Businesses  (info provided by the FBI):

Materials:

  • Materials synthesis and processing
  • Electronic and photonic materials
  • Ceramics
  • Composites
  • High-performance metals and alloys

Manufacturing:

  • Flexible computer-integrated manufacturing
  • Intelligence processing equipment
  • Micro- and nano-fabrication
  • Systems management technologies

Information and Communications:

  • Software
  • Micro and optoelectronics
  • High-performance computing and networking
  • High-definition imaging and displays
  • Sensors and signal processing
  • Data storage and peripherals
  • Computer simulation and modeling

Biotechnology and Life Sciences:

  • Applied molecular biology
  • Computational Chemistry
  • Medical technology

Transportation:

  • Aeronautics
  • Surface transportation technologies

Energy and enviroment:

  • Energy technologies
  • Pollution minimization, remediation and waste management

Finally, we look at those professions that are particularly target for covert surveillance.

High Threat Occupations (again, according to the FBI):

– Attorney

– Doctor

– Chiropractor

– Dentist

– Architect

– Police Officer

– Court Clerk

– Judge

– Elected official

– Mayor

– Selectman

– School Principal

– Professor

– Product Engineer

– Software Developer

– Executive/Scientist at a large development company

– Employees at defense contracting companies

– Ministers and other religious leaders

– Corporate Buyer or Purchasing Agent

– Labor or Union Official

– Fashion employees

– Advertising personnel

– Personnel managers

Paranoia is unnecessary; vigilance required.

BNI Operatives; Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Who Am I Dealing With?? Watching Your Back(ground) Checks.

Lately, we are requested quite often to research the backgrounds of prospective employees, personal and business partners and corporate entities.

With our now internet-enabled reach (not just to locate web-based information but to network with other investigative specialists), we are able to access nationwide data as to the personal, work and credit backgrounds of potential new hires.  We have gained the ability to likewise perform these background search services on a global basis for those seeking new business alliances, products and services.   Today, given the mobility and globalization of people and companies, often the backgrounds of the those with whom we might form potential partnerships are, at best based on hazy anecdotes and very basic, publicly available information.  Unfortunately, these types of non-professionally investigated histories can easily be manipulated, i.e., by net savvy perception managers.  For this, and many other reasons (personal security, access and information verification, to name several) we will always steer people away from the alleged “free” searches available online.  If one is serious about researching a potential employee or partner’s background, get it done right — by an experienced, highly rated private investigator.

Below we outline several types of background searches, their information yield and best applicability situations.

Basic Background Check, Individual:

Primary Uses:  Prospective new hires, subject identification, tenant verification.

Should yield:

  • DOB & Alias Names
  • SSN Verification
  • Address History (20 yr)
  • Address Summaries
  • Others Residing w/Subject
  • Possible Phone #s Associated w Subject (landline/mobile)
  • Email Addresses
  • Nationwide Criminal Profile (Includes State & Nationwide Criminal Databases, National Warrant Databases, Department of Correction Records, Nationwide Sex Offender Check)
  • Property Transactions
  • Civil Judgments, Tax Liens, & Evictions
  • Bankruptcies
  • Registered Vehicles *
  • DL Information *
  • Voter Registrations
  • Hunting & Fishing Permits
  • Professional Licenses
  • Possible Work Affiliations
  • Relatives & Associates

*In available states.

Recommendation: If the new hire will have access to accounting and or client information, we also suggest obtaining a release to conduct a standard asset search.

Comprehensive Background Check, Individual:

Primary Uses:  Prospective partners, major settlement/award cases, potential private care (nannies, housekeepers, home nursing aides…) and personal/business financial services providers (attorneys, accountants, brokers…)

Should yield:

  • All of the above plus :
  • Credit check (obtain authorization)
  • Financial background (to include but not limited to assets, banking information,  involvement in fraud investigations)
  • Professional background (to include but not limited to being a named party in any legal action, professional sanctions, industry rating)
  • Verified (in person/voice) and thorough reference checks

These are basic searches to conduct in the above referenced circumstances.  Of course, no two files will ever be the same and each search should be geared towards individualization.  A good professional investigator will know where to look and when to dig deeper.

As always, stay safe.

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