Category Archives: International Investigations

Draft Dodgers and Private Investigators

The need for the a strong military defense in Israel can not be denied. It is believed that all citizens have a duty to help protect the state. In accomplishing that goal the Israeli Defense Force “has recently resumed private investigations into women who declare themselves to be religious in order to avoid military service”…”Such a probe would look into whether she observes Shabbat, dresses modestly and avoids intimate contact with men.”

“Private investigators are employed any time there is good reason to suspect applicants for either draft exemptions or financial assistance of submitting fraudulent information”

Possible steady employment. Pretty interesting. To  read more, http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/idf-spends-nis-2-8m-on-private-investigations-into-draft-dodgers-fraudulent-assistance-seekers.premium-1.519831 

 

MGEN Amos Malka, Commanding General Israeli De...

MGEN Amos Malka, Commanding General Israeli Defense Force, and other members of the Israeli Defense Force. A UH-60 Black Hawk (Blackhawk) is in flight in the background. Location: FORT HOOD, TEXAS (TX) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (USA) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Human Trafficking

Just what is Human Trafficking? We heard about the case down in Moore County, NC which resulted in the Mother selling her daughter for prostitution.

From the Bureau of Justice, “Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents”,  Human Trafficking has occurred if a person was induced to perform labor or a commerical sex act through force, fraud, or coercion. Any person under age 18 who performs a commercial sex act is considered a victim of human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud or coercion were present.

It is defined as, “The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for one of 3 purposes:

1) Labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery

2) a Commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud or coercion

3) Any Commercial sex act, if the person is under 18 years of age, regardless of whether any form or coercion is involved.

See http://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/bjspubs.aspx

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The allure of the profession and the reality of the job

I love this article. Doesn’t everyone have a “glamorous” idea of the profession.  This article is from United Kingdom

Story Image

I SPY: Kelly Rose Bradford tries out her detective tricks

 

By Kelly Rose Bradford

Thursday March 19,2009

SLEUTHING, detecting and finding things out have been among my passions since I was a child.

I had a voracious appetite for Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Secret Seven and Five Find-Outers.Even now I harbour a desire to be a PI so when I met private investigator Jorge Salgado-Reyes I spent a day with him to see if I could cut the mustard.

Jorge is an impressive, albeit slightly sinister, figure in head to toe black and a dark flowing coat. He looks part bouncer, part paparazzi snapper.

We head across town to pick up papers from a solicitor for an order we will serve that afternoon.

I wondered if this would involve a high-speed car chase, possibly some gun-toting and maybe even a shoot-out but as we drove into deepest suburbia to the solicitor’s office I guessed not. “It’s not all glamour,” I am told sharply.

I realise my outfit of high heels, trench coat and trilby are going to be wasted on Jorge. He doesn’t seem to need a glamorous PI assistant.

The wedge of documents collected, we head back to Jorge’s office where I will be trained in the rudiments of online tracing. This, I decided, could be interesting.

Jorge shows me a couple of databases he uses for tracking down missing people, they could be debtors, errant spouses or those being sought by concerned friends or relatives.

Once he has an address he pays a visit. “When you get there look for the curtain twitcher,” he says. “They are your key contact. You get all the info and they satisfy their desire for a gossip.”

So far PI-ing sounded very sensible and far removed from my Enid Blyton books. “Disguises?” I asked. “Surely you must sometimes dress up?”

       

“I need to blend in,” he says, “I need to be ordinary. Although I did once dress up as a courier.” Ah! That was more like it. I pressed for more details.

“I borrowed a uniform, stuffed a box full of newspapers and turned up on the doorstep of the person I was tracking down. They confirmed their name thinking the parcel was for them, then I served them the court papers.”

And what about the gadgets, the gizmos? The proper, old-school PI kit?

“These might interest you,” said Jorge, handing me a pair of sunglasses. Of course, they were not any old sunglasses, they were real spy glasses.

A seemingly innocuous pair of specs with a video camera hidden in the frame.

“And this,” said Jorge, handing me what looked like a regular pen but which actually concealed a video camera. “There is a limit to what gadgets can do, though,” he warned. “It’s not like James Bond, despite what people think.”

With that stark warning ringing in my ears we left the office for Kent to deliver a court order – “process serving” to give it its proper name.

We drove out to the countryside and down a series of lanes looking for the address.

Eventually I spotted it – a huge pair of electronic gates atop a mile-long driveway. We were let in and the gates closed silently behind us. I was scared and excited. I had no idea who or what we would find at the end of the drive.

Jorge told me he has never been attacked or threatened while on a job. I was slightly reassured but nervous of the fact we were effectively trapped between the house and the electronic gates.

“Always have the car facing your exit,” he told me as we approached an imposing mansion with tennis courts and acres of lawn. He grabbed the papers and, leaving the door open and engine running, knocked on the door.

I made rapid plans to ditch the heels and jump in the driver’s seat if things began to look hairy, fully intending to drive the car at speed into the electronic gates and make my getaway.

However, the papers were served without any hassle bar a bit of arm waving and bemused body language from the recipient.

As we drove back to the office I asked Jorge what makes a good PI. “Lack of ego,” he says. “The ability to fit in, good business sense and,” he adds, “women are probably better at it than men.”

I immediately perk up. “So do you reckon I’d make it as a PI?”

“Well, you’re confident and people would want to talk to you,” he says. “But you’d need to get rid of the high heels.”

I guess every job has its downsides. The trench coat and trilby could stay though and I’d definitely need a pair of those spy sunglasses.

Jorge Salgado-Reyes runs Allied Detectives, allieddetectives.co.uk

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Bonuses paid to AIG and is this what the payoffs look like?

American International Group, Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

After listening to those “poor pitiful” AIG financial officers, I decided to post why one executive decided to return it

The dollar is certainly not worth what it once was

The dollar is certainly not worth what it once was

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For the love of art-and in case the work is slow, here is another mystery

If you have time and inclination, help the FBI with this search for the rightful owner

Wanted: the owners of 137 artworks discovered in an apartment in Manhattan, suspected stolen. The FBI is appealing for owners to come forward to claim the paintings and sculptures that were found in the Upper East Side – some of them stuffed under a bed – in one of the more unusual mysteries to fall to federal investigators.

For the rest of the story from the Guardian, click here

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Investigative Research and the Internet

CHICAGO - FEBRUARY 23:  Google employees wait ...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

From Law.com a very interesting article

Evidence in an Age of Self-Surveillance

George Orwell’s state-run surveillance society had children spying on parents, neighbors scrutinizing neighbors and Big Brother watching over everyone. What Orwell did not foresee was a time when people would voluntarily publish chronicles of their lives for public consumption.

Imagine bookstores suddenly inundated with truckloads of privately published diaries, photo albums and home movies. An unlikely scenario until the mass marketing of computers, digital cameras and Internet access provided an inexpensive outlet.

Millions are participating in online social networks in an age of unprecedented self-surveillance (sousveillance). And these sites are pushing criminal investigation into uncharted waters.

Two of the most popular networking sites are MySpace and Facebook, each of which boasts over 100 million users. And according to a 2008 Pew Internet and American Life Project survey, the numbers of adult users with online profiles increased more than 400 percent over the last four years.[FOOTNOTE 1]

Evidence derived from social networking comes into play in several ways. Law enforcement and prosecutors use it to identify suspects and build cases. And defense attorneys have begun to mine this resource for information that can exculpate their clients, impeach a state’s witness or provide a basis for a reduced sentence or post-conviction review.

A couple of months ago, Newsweek reported on an investigation concerning the murder of a British college student in Italy.[FOOTNOTE 2] The suspects in that case were identified through Skype, an Internet phone service; and additional leads revealed by photos and short stories appearing on a Facebook page, an unsettling YouTube video and queries found in the history of a Google search engine. All told, these social networking and Internet communication sites collectively created a “virtual crime scene,” the output of which is finding its way into the courtroom.

In a Niagara County Court, a judge increased the bail of a defendant charged with felony assault and misdemeanor weapons possession based on pictures found on a MySpace page.[FOOTNOTE 3] The accused had been released on $5,000 bail, but during his arraignment the prosecutor introduced 10 pages of MySpace photos. They allegedly showed him wearing gang clothing, giving gang signs and standing with others in gang colors. Based on this and other information supporting a likelihood of conviction, the judge raised bail to $50,000.

And during a Michigan murder trial, the prosecutor introduced Molineux-type evidence of intent and planning from defendant’s MySpace site. The evidence in People v. Liceaga, 2009 Mich. App. LEXIS 160 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 27, 2009), included photos of the accused with a gun, purportedly used to shoot the victim and “throwing” a gang sign. Admission of the images was upheld on appeal because they established familiarity with the weapon and a pattern of threats made to other victims.

Social networking evidence plays an increasingly important role at other stages of the criminal process.

In United States v. Ebersole, 263 Fed. Appx. 251, 253 n.4 (3d Cir. Pa. 2008), a sentence of supervised released for interstate stalking was revoked because it was claimed the defendant sent a threatening e-mail to the victim. “At the revocation hearing,” the court said, “Ebersole testified that he used his MySpace web page as a ‘vehicle to voice [his] frustration.’ (App. 29.)” The court admitted the profile page evidence to put the message in context.

Recently, in People v. Fernino, 2008 NY Slip Op 28044, 3 (N.Y. City Crim. Ct. 2008), a Staten Island judge held that a friend request intended to reach the complainant’s MySpace page violated the “no contact” provision of an order of protection. “The defendant should not be exculpated because she, instead of contacting her victim directly, used the MySpace Mail Center Friend Request Manager,” the court said.

In both cases the indirect nature of the communication was an unavailing defense. However, communication is a two-way street, and as illustrated below, the actions of the recipient may determine the outcome of a case.

In People v. Rodriguez, 2008 NY Slip Op 28123, 5 (N.Y. City Crim. Ct. 2008), an 18-year-old defendant’s expression of “unrequited teenage love” for a 14-year-old complainant via MySpace failed to reach the level of aggravated harassment.

A key factor in dismissing the charge was the complainant’s willingness to access defendant’s messages on her page. No attempts were made to block them nor did she ask him to desist. At some point, the prosecution claimed she disabled her account, but offered no evidence to determine when it occurred or whether it was done in response to defendant’s epistles.

The virtue and vice of social networking, and the Internet in general, are that it empowers everyone to be an investigator. But incautious use of publicly accessible profiles can lead down the wrong path in some cases.

A North Carolina resident had been arrested and prosecuted for injuries to a victim in an Albany bar fight.[FOOTNOTE 4] Some time after the incident, the victim had gone to a MySpace page where he saw an image of a person he thought was the attacker. Meanwhile, the man in the photo, who lived more than 700 miles away, denied ever having been in Albany. One DNA sample later, the case against him was dismissed.

DUE DILIGENCE

Internet searching has emerged as a necessity in legal investigation. And with the advent of Google cache and the Wayback Machine to resurrect defunct sites and links, the search parameters have broadened. And now social networking is redefining due diligence in online investigation.[FOOTNOTE 5]

Sites like Facebook and MySpace may hold the keys to an alibi,[FOOTNOTE 6] justification or mental health defense or mitigating evidence. In addition, they may provide material to impeach law enforcement and expert witnesses or assail the credibility of eyewitnesses.[FOOTNOTE 7] Mistaken identifications and false or misleading information might be uncovered as well.

A defendant’s social networking page can also be turned to advantage because, like most personal sites, it represents part of a life story. There may be postings that show strong roots in the community supporting a bail application or positive reputation evidence from testimonials useful in developing a defense theory or mitigation at sentencing.[FOOTNOTE 8]

Depending on the material posted, it could prove to be a valuable snapshot of a client’s experiences — similar to a day in the life movies used in civil litigation.

JURY BEHAVIOR

These sites can open the door to opinion making, where the power of one person or a 1,000 to post their views about a pending case can impact due process.

In United States v. Boyd, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88493 (E.D. Tenn. Nov. 30, 2007), the accused moved for a change of venue based on pretrial publicity. In addition to TV broadcasts and newspapers articles, attorneys involved with the defense testified that there were YouTube videos, opinions about the case posted on Internet news sites, and extensive Google search results concerning the victim. All of the electronic information was available to any potential juror in the venire district.

While the attorneys could not determine how many potential jurors might have viewed the YouTube videos, for example, they noted: “[A]nyone, located anywhere on Earth, with access to a computer and the internet, could create a video about Christian and Newsom [victims], or the prosecutions arising from their deaths, and put it on YouTube.”

The trial judge denied the motion as premature, being unable to determine the existence of actual prejudice, and instead granted a defense motion for individual voir dire as needed.

The dangers of jury pool contamination intoned by the defense attorneys in Boyd were realized in a West Virginia case.

K.J., one of the alleged sex abuse victims in State v. Cecil, 221 W. Va. 495, 504 (W. Va. 2007), had a MySpace account. A private detective working for the defense testified that she posted a statement about being “famous someday,” and “used the website to communicate with older boys contrary to her mother’s testimony that K.J. was now withdrawn and did not like to be around older boys or men.”

The curiosity of two jurors got the better of them, and during trial they tried to visit K.J.’s MySpace page. However, the profile had been restricted or removed before trial and inaccessible — reducing its prejudicial impact. Still, one of the jurors did discuss the site with her daughter, who knew the other victim and her family. While the jurors’ attempted investigation was not productive, their actions combined with other misconduct by a third juror denied Cecil a fair trial.

As this next case illustrates, Web sites have to be seen to be impactful.

In State v. Gaskins, 2007 Ohio 4103, P30-P35 (Ohio Ct. App., Medina County, Aug. 13, 2007), the defendant was charged with sex crimes against two underage victims. During trial, he attempted to introduce evidence that one of the complainants held herself out on her MySpace page as an 18 year old with experience in adult sexual relationships.

The court permitted photos of the victim from that site to be admitted based on testimony about her appearance at the time. However, since no proof had been offered that the defendant had ever seen the site, and it was created after the event, questioning about the MySpace page was not permitted.

Jury selection has to take into account the fact that many in the pool will be familiar with social networking and Internet searching or have their own sites.

In view of the potential for unwanted publicity or juror curiosity, voir dire and jury instructions should consider how these sites can infiltrate and influence the proceedings. The questions from the Pew survey might suggest a few starting points.[FOOTNOTE 9]

INFORMATION QUALITY

Since Web pages can change or disappear, archiving or making a demand for preservation may be necessary. Admission or exclusion of testimony about the contents may hinge on this early capture of Web content.

Distinct from content is the conduct of the person profiled, whether a party or witness. The act of removing a page, privatizing access or changing the nature of the material posted may be probative as a virtual recantation, recent fabrication, inconsistent statement or basis for impeachment.

Depending on the reason that a complainant shuts down her site or a witness restricts access to his MySpace page, the next step may involve a subpoena to the networking host, a discovery motion, a Rosario demand or preclusion motion, and ultimately, an adverse inference jury charge.[FOOTNOTE 10]

Foreclosure of such evidence might run afoul of the confrontation and compulsory process clauses.

Moreover, if photos from Facebook were used in an identification proceeding or statements on a blog found their way into a search warrant application, there might be a basis for suppression.

The integrity of self-published online information depends on its authenticity and reliability. Well-known phenomena plaguing Web sites apply with equal force to social networking, such as hacking, identity theft, malicious misinformation and misrepresentation.

The Pew survey reported that 4 percent of users deleted their profiles because their page had been hacked or password stolen.

Social networking sites are personal. They represent an extension of conversations that take place between friends or reveal the desire to create casual relationships. The informality and dubiety of their content can be questioned. Whether offered as evidence by the prosecution or considered for use by the defense, fact checking is essential.[FOOTNOTE 11]

CONCLUSION

Media rich social networking sites have pulled back the curtain on the activities of multitudes. And lawyers are representing an increasing number of clients with an online presence, and trying cases where complainants and witnesses post information that can lead to impeaching or exonerating evidence.

Criminal defense is now virtual defense. And unlike memories that fade with time or physical evidence that deteriorates, a Web site will continue communicating to a global audience for a long time.

What will it mean when we live in a society where everyone knows everything about everyone? And how will it affect the rights of defendants to confront their accusers and prepare their cases?[FOOTNOTE 12]

A world with “virtual crime scenes” demands a comparable set of safeguards to ensure access to and the integrity of the virtual evidence that is fast becoming a staple of criminal prosecutions.

Ken Strutin is director of legal information services at the New York State Defenders Association.

::::FOOTNOTES::::

FN1 Pew Internet Project Data Memo: Adults and Social Networking Web Sites (Jan. 14, 2009). See “New Numbers on Social Network Usage,” CNET News, Feb. 10, 2009, .

FN2Murder Most Wired,” Newsweek, Dec. 3, 2008.

FN3MySpace Page Used Against Gang Suspect,” Buffalo News, Jan. 23, 2009.

FN4Bar Brawl Indictment Dismissed,” Albany Times Union, Feb. 18, 2009.

FN5 See generally “Due Diligence With Social Networks,” Law Technology News, Dec. 12, 2008, ; “Making Internet Searches Part of Due Diligence,” Los Angeles Lawyer, Feb. 2007, at 46.

FN6 See, e.g., “Lack of Internet Access Muddies Case Against Sex Offender’s MySpace Site,” Law.com, Nov. 6, 2006.

FN7 See, e.g., “MySpaced-Out Cops: NYPD Eyes Web Pages of Recruits,” New York Post, Jan. 21, 2009; “Litigation Clues Are Found on Facebook,” National Law Journal, Oct. 15, 2007>

FN8 But see “Social Networking Puts the Bite on Defendants,” Law.com, July 22, 2008; “Danger of Self-Inflicted Damage on the Web,” Pennsylvania Lawyer, November/December 2008, at 34.

FN9 Cf. “Social Networking Sites Help Vet Jurors,” National Law Journal, Aug. 13, 2008.

FN10 Cf. “MySpace, Facebook Pages Called Key to Dispute Over Insurance Coverage for Eating Disorders,” National Law Journal, Feb. 1, 2008.

FN11 See generally “When Reporters Go Into MySpace,” News & Observer, Dec. 31, 2007.

FN12 See generally Anita L. Allen, “Dredging Up the Past: Lifelogging, Memory, and Surveillance,” 75 U. Chi. L. Rev. 47 (2008); “India’s Novel Use of Brain Scans in Courts Is Debated,” The New York Times, Sept. 14, 2008.
 

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Stolen Art Investigations and the well know private detective Ben Zuidema

Painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder Stolen from Lutheran Church in Norway

Dealer Presumably Responsible for Stealing

and Destroying Paintings Worth Millions



Image taken on March 8, 2009 of a work of art made by Flemish painter Jan Brueghel in Driebergen, Holland. The Dutch police have recuperated eight paintings made by Pissarro and Renoir, among others, that had been missing since 1987. The works of art, from the XVII and XIX, disappeared from a gallery in Maastricht and were found in the southern part of the country after they had been put on sale, the police said. Some of the paintings have been seriously damaged. Photo: EFE/Ruben Schipper.

Article:
By: Boudewijn Meijer

DRIEBERGEN.- On Thursday evening the 5th March 2009 national police investigators confiscated eight of the nine valuable paintings which were seemingly stolen from the art gallery of the renowned dealer in Old Masters Robert Noortman in 1987.

The German extortionist stated that Noortman had handed over the paintings to the three suspects with the explicit instruction to destroy the paintings, which they obviously did not do. Noortman, according to the statement of the blackmailer, burned and destroyed an oil panel by Meindert Hobbema.

The eight paintings were found in the possession of a 66 year old resident of the Dutch town of Walem, the 45 year old Eckhardt P., top manager of Frankfurter Messe in Germany residing in Dubai, and his 62 year old mother. The three suspects have been detained and will be prosecuted for money laundering.

Julian Radcliffe, chairman of the London based Art Loss Register, estimates that the present value of the eight paintings is € 2.4 million, would they have been in undamaged condition. Two of the eight pieces, the Trouillebert and Terniers, are however seriously damaged and require major restoration.

The eight confiscated paintings are :

• La Clairière [Renoir]
• Bouquet de Fleurs [Eva Gonzales]
• Bords de la Seine à Bougival [Camille Pissarro]
• Two marien views [W. van der Velde]
• Celebrating farmers outside a tavern [David Teniers, the younger]
• Moneys [Jan Brueghel, the younger]
• Pêcheur près du moulin à eau [Paul Désireré Trouillebert]

The Dutch police was tipped by the well know private detective Ben Zuidema. In 1987 Robert Noortman hired the private investigator to track down the stolen paintings. Not long after he received this assignment Noortman instructed him to end his investigations, much to Zuidema’s surprise.

In December of last year Zuidema received a phone call from a so called German colleague. The German ‘private investigator’ stated that he knew of the whereabouts of the eight paintings and requested Zuidema’s assistance in blackmailing Robert Noortman’s family. A notarized act would be compiled in which the three suspects would state several declarations about the past of Robert Noortman, who died two years ago, and the fact that he himself was responsible for the theft of the nine paintings. The German ‘private detective’ would offer the Noortman family the paintings for € 5million and Zuidema would receive a commission of € 1million.

The German extortionist stated that Noortman had handed over the paintings to the three suspects with the explicit instruction to destroy the paintings, which they obviously did not do. Noortman, according to the statement of the blackmailer, burned and destroyed an oil panel by Meindert Hobbema.

With a witness to confirm the story of the German blackmailing ‘private detective’, Zuidema declined the offer and went straight to the police.

Of the nine paintings only the Hobbema panel is with out a trace. Noortman purchased the painting for € 80’000 and had it insured for € 1’000’000.

The Dutch police would not confirm Zuidema’s story and no investigation will be pursued on how the paintings disappeared in order to determine Noortman’s possible involvement in insurance fraud. If at the time the paintings were stolen, no persecutions can be made due to the age of the case.

The police, who has been working very closely with the German and Belgium police in the case, stated that they will only be investigating where the panels have remained all these years and how the suspects obtained them.

Today’s News

March 10, 2009

Dealer Presumably Responsible for Stealing and Destroying Paintings Worth Millions

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