Posts Tagged ‘FBI’

Service of Delight in a Low Tech, Effective Invention

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Photo: deerfieldvet.com

A friend whose husband had dementia described a harrowing moment when he disappeared one afternoon on their walk home from the grocery store. Her arms were full of parcels so she wasn’t holding on to him and it started raining so she’d pulled up her hoodie, partially covering her vision. She was distracted for only a moment and when she turned around her husband was gone. That day she found him. Similar incidents happen daily to adults and children whose caretakers must call the police to help find them.

Photo: pinterest.com

“About 613,000 people were reported missing in 2018 to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center. About two-thirds of them were children,” reported Leslie Brody in her Wall Street Journal article, “Scent Kits Aid Tail-Wagging Detectives in Search for Missing People.” The kit is a simple tool to help bloodhounds find anyone who is lost.

Brody wrote: “Detective Christopher Nichols of Maywood’s K-9 Unit said he hopes the kits will be useful for finding people who tend to wander off, including the elderly with dementia and children with autism. It is urgent to give a search dog something with a unique scent to trace, but in some cases none can be found, he said: The missing person’s dirty socks, for example, may have been contaminated by mingling with other people’s laundry.” Maywood is in New Jersey.

Photo: anythingpawsable.com

The kit, Find ’em Scent Safe, that costs about $20, was developed by a police captain, Coby Webb, who is also treasurer of the National Police Bloodhound Association. “The kit has gloves and gauze for pressing on the user’s neck or armpit to pick up odor. The gauze goes into a plastic bag and then a small gray box that goes into the user’s freezer. In an emergency, the family can hand it to investigators. Police don’t store it.”

Brody reported that some families monitor people who tend to wander with GPS devices but that batteries could die, the wanderer could enter an area with no cell service or they might remove the device. Find ’em’s box design “helps protect it from tampering,” while dirty socks stored in the freezer can be tinkered with.

Citizens of Maywood–where Detective Nichols works–can get a free kit. “The police are promoting their offer…..at senior centers and schools for students with disabilities.”

What other simple tools like the scent kit have you heard of that can turn around a dangerous situation? Are there other preventative measures people can take to control the outcome of an emergency?

Photo: pethealthnetwork.com

Service of Protecting a Whistleblower

Thursday, November 21st, 2019

Photo: federalnewsnetwork.com

I’ve written three previous posts about whistleblowers. The first, in October, 2010, was about a Minneapolis resident who gave up his job as a trader at a brokerage firm to become an FBI informant. His target was a suspicious Ponzi schemer. The second was about the Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQuery who was placed in protective custody and on administrative leave because of his role in the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case. In the third I covered the countless leakers in the early Trump administration. We learn the names of some and not of others.

The unnamed whistleblower at the center of the Ukraine telephone call/impeachment initiative is courageous as they all are. I also think that they are the rarest of birds and as such should be shielded from harm and at all costs left forever unidentified except to the appropriate authorities.

Photo: fedsmith.com

The USA TODAY editorial board wrote: “The fundamental promise of whistleblower protection is to create a safe space for a witness of wrongdoing to come forward and report it — and, for the sake of his or her professional reputation or even physical safety, to remain anonymous in doing so.

“Nothing chills truth-telling in the halls of power like the risk of retribution, and no risk is more harrowing than unmasking potentially impeachable offenses by a president.

“So it may come as little surprise that Donald Trump — with his legacy and potentially even his job hanging in the balance — would turn the promise of whistleblower protection on its head. He has launched a vitriolic campaign to publicly identify the person who exposed his problematic July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine.”

In addition they wrote: “Making the whistleblower’s identity known would expose the person to the kind of character assassination from the extreme elements of the president’s supporters that other impeachment inquiry witnesses have endured.”

The word assassination is apt. One of the whistleblower’s lawyers said he feared the man or woman would be killed if identified.

Those who call for identifying this whistleblower say it’s important to know his/her motivation and political preference. Do you agree?

Have you ever worked for someone whose dicey business behavior should have been made known? Did you report him/her? Do most of us stay mum because we are taught from childhood not to be tattletales? Do you praise or condemn whistleblowers? Do you think that there should be exceptions to the rule that protects their identity and that some should be exposed?

Photo: amazon.com

Service of a New Twist on Identity Theft: A Hemorrhage in Medical Care

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

identity theft

Identity theft has spread from retail and banks to hospitals according to Stephanie Armour who reported the new contamination in her Wall Street Journal article, “How Identity Theft Sticks You With Hospital Bills: Thieves use stolen personal data to get treatment, drugs, medical equipment.

The only way that Kathleen Meiners, the mother of a man in his 30s with Down syndrome, could stop harassment by a hospital that claimed he’d had an operation was through the newspaper’s intervention.  Mrs. Meiners figured her son would quickly be off the hook after bringing him to the hospital so staff could see he’d had no procedure for a leg injury. But someone had to pay for the operation the identity thief had undergone so the hospital, ER physicians and radiologist continued to go after her son, eventually via collection agencies.

There’s more. With the thief’s medical charts “folded into” the victim’s, a person who doesn’t have diabetes might be shown to have it or the thief’s blood type might be listed as theirs. Mrs. Meiner’s son had no drug allergies but was listed as having some. Guess what? The victim can’t see the messed up medical records to untangle them because of privacy laws that protect the thief’s information.

Mrs. Meiners son isn’t alone. Armour wrote about a Florida woman who was charged for a foot amputation who showed up at the hospital to point out her two feet to no avail. A man learned someone had stolen all his benefits when he was refused a prescription refill.

Armour continued, “Fueling medical identity theft is the surge in electronic medical records and data breaches at insurers and health-care providers. Medical identity theft—in which someone fraudulently uses data to bill for medical services—affected 2.3 million adult patients in 2014 versus 1.4 million in 2009, according to a survey published in February by the Ponemon Institute LLC, a research concern.”

EmergencyTo help stem the tide, insurance companies have formed a Medical Identity Fraud Alliance and the FBI, Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] and the Justice Department are also investigating, according to Armour. And hospitals are getting into the act she wrote.  BayCare Health System in Florida asks patients if they want the veins in a palm scanned which is then “converted into a number that correlates with the patient’s medical record.” Other hospitals ask to see photo ID and are increasing digital security. Medicare cards distributed by HHS will no longer imbed social security numbers or show code according to a law the President signed in April.

“Unlike in financial identity theft,” wrote Armour, “health identity-theft victims can remain on the hook for payment because there is no health-care equivalent of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which limits consumers’ monetary losses if someone uses their credit information.” In Ponemon’s survey “65% of victims reported they spent an average of $13,500 to restore credit, pay health-care providers for fraudulent claims and correct inaccuracies in their health records.”

Armour reported that social security, Medicare and Medicaid numbers are sold on the black market for $50 vs. $6-$7 for a credit card number. The latter can be cancelled quickly hence the lesser value. “Sometimes, health-care providers are the perpetrators,” she wrote. “Federal prosecutors charged Dr. Kenneth Johnson with using Manor Medical Imaging, a Glendale, Calif. clinic, to write prescriptions for drugs and then sell them on the black market.”

Were you aware of this twist in identity theft? What can be done about it?

Identity theft 2

Service of Art Theft Recovery

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Isabella G missing art

The empty frames which bordered some of the stolen artworks previously exhibited at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston [photo above], where the pictures used to be,  give a memorable, haunting sensation of loss. They’ve been missing for 25 years. Check out the website and you’ll see posted a $100,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of a finial of a Napoleonic eagle that was also lost in the 1990 burglary.

Speaking of burgled art, Mark Fishsteinm, with K2 Intelligence LLC, said: “You can never give up hope because if they are stolen, some people hold them for a predetermined amount of time and then think it’s safe to sell.” The retired New York City Police Department’s art crime division specialist told this to Wall Street Journal reporter Jennifer Smith for her story, “Picasso Recovery in Newark Shines Light on Art Theft.”

La Coiffeuse by PicassoWhile the article focused on the fascinating business of art recovery, clearly the type of work only for the patient, the discovery in NJ didn’t share any how-to clues. Smith wrote about the theft of a cubist Picasso picture [photo at right], “La Coiffeuse,” [1911], from a storeroom in the Centre Pompidou in Paris that was reported in 2001. It was found in February in Newark, N.J. in a package sent from Belgium marked “Art Craft Toy,” with a value of $37. According to her, “It isn’t clear how customs officials at Newark, among the busier ports in the U.S., unearthed a stolen artwork the size of a place mat. A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations declined to comment, citing a continuing investigation.”

Smith observed that in general law enforcement—police, FBI and Interpol–doesn’t work alone. Agencies collaborate with insurance companies and a few businesses such as Art Loss Register and Art Recovery Group [both in London]. The former lists stolen antiques as well as art in its database and is adding reports of forged/fake items to its service. The company boasted that last year it had 400,000 paid searches and found some 150 pieces.

Thomas Crown AffairIt doesn’t help the cause in this country that there is no central reference list for the law-enforcement agencies to track art crimes even though they represent a chunk of change. Smith wrote that the FBI can no longer verify a previous estimate of $billions lost from art and cultural crimes. She didn’t explain why but my guess would be that prices are so crazy these days that nobody can keep track or count that high.

What inspires people to pay the prices they do for high profile art when they are simply making targets of themselves? If it can’t be sold, what’s the point of stealing art? Why do you think there isn’t a single registry here for all legitimate interested parties to access?

To Catch a Thief

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