Monday, November 27, 2006

Spam anyone?

I read the NEWS today - it said that "9 out of 10 e-mails are now SPAM"! Based on "my" inbox, I can see that the number is rising for sure. Mine is not at that level, but I did notice a trend in the last couple of months. SPAM is on the rise for sure...

A couple years back, I was at a computer confrence and got into a discussion about "spam" and what could be done about it. Someone said that if the ISP's started to charge people for sending email, then the problem would go away. No way! All that would do is hurt people like you and me and create a ton on money for the ISP! The spammers do not have a normal ISP account like we do. They use private mail servers that they either own or rent. or, they gain access to one by using the back door that was left open (can anyone say "AOL"?)

I agree with the experts that SPAM is a problem - but what is the answer? Honestly, since the "Internet" is world wide it connot be regulated. This is the problem and the reason laws won't help.

What am I doing? Well, I am taking all of my current email "opt-in" lists that I have and combining tham into one master list. This will allow me to keep a better eye on them and manage them better. The last thing I want to do is get in trouble and be called a spammer! I know this won't help clean up my inbox, but at least I am doing some house cleaning of my own.

Spam Filters work - at least they "used to". Now there seems to be a serge in spam that gets right by the filters. It never ends!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Military interpreter `used false identity

DATE: 12/2/2005
SOURCE: US Press International
AUTHOR: Shaun Waterman

WASHINGTON, DC, United States (UPI) -- A man who was a contract interpreter for the U.S. military in Iraq with a high-level security clearance for more than two years faces charges of lying to federal agents after allegations that almost every detail of the biography he provided them with for a background check was false.

The interpreter -- a native Arabic speaker who was employed by the Titan Corp., and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2000, claiming to be a Lebanese national named Almaliki Nour -- was charged earlier this month by way of a complaint filed in a federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y.

James Margolin, a spokesman for the New York FBI, told United Press International that the complaint alleges no terrorist connection, but experts say it does highlight the difficulty of carrying out background and security checks on those who grew up outside the country. The complaint, sworn out by FBI Special Agent Robert Long, charges the man with lying to federal officials on three occasions: in his application for naturalization in 1998; in his application for a security clearance in 2003; and in interviews connected with the renewal of his clearance in September 2005.

Get a job from the internet?

The big benefit of posting your resume on the Internet is that anyone, anywhere can access it and offer you a job.

The big drawback? Anyone, anywhere can access it and offer you a job.

Increasingly, online resumes are being accessed not just by legitimate employers but by offshore criminals out to steal identities or bring low-level recruits into international crime rings. Experts warn that in the past year, such fraudsters have gotten more aggressive about contacting people whose resumes are online, whether on personal Web sites or on large, reputable career search sites.

"We're hearing from a couple of people each week who are having their resume accessed by criminals," said Pam Dixon, executive director of the nonprofit San Diego research organization World Privacy Forum.

Often, the offer is for a so-called remailing job. In one such case reported by the nonprofit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego, a woman found a job through the Web site The woman, whose name was not disclosed, was to receive packages in the mail and resend them to an address in Belarus.

She was promised a $2,000 monthly salary for the relatively cushy job. When she never got paid -- or even reimbursed for her shipping costs -- she started to investigate and found out that the company didn't exist.

What generally happens in such cases, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, is that a criminal, often in Eastern Europe or some other offshore location, is using stolen credit cards to order electronics from U.S. e-tailers.

Bottom line? Well, if you post your resume on the internet, leave out your personal information. Just offer an email address for people to use to contact you. That way you can decide who to contact in return. Check themout first.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

You can promote your own website!

Well it happened again. I stopped in to visit a friend for coffee yesterday and we got to talking about his PI agency website. He asked me to look at it and see why no one is clicking on it. The HTML looked okay, and his site is professional looking enough, but it doesn't make his phone ring off the hook.

He went to get us more coffee and I checked a few more things that are often overlooked when it comes to web site promotion. “Hand me the phone book” I said as he came back into the room. “What for” he asked… I took a sip of coffee and looked up his ad in the yellow pages – a sixth of a page ad with two colors. “Where is your website URL” I asked him. “It doesn’t seem to be on your ad – or for that matter - on your business cards either!”. (He said he wanted to use up the remaining 5000 cards first…)

First rule of web site promotion: Tell people about it!

Advertise your website “everywhere”! Reprint your business cards – or get a rubber stamp made up if you have to – gez! Change your answering machine message and put it on there as well. Also include it on your invoices and Fax cover sheets. Put it on any piece of paper that leaves your office. Print it on your return address on envelopes.

Website promotion begins at home.

For most PI’s, the purpose of their site is to act as a brochure for their prospective clients. Use it for that purpose. When someone calls, make sure you give him or her the website address. If you have “music on hold” – put it on there too! That way the next time you put someone on “ignore”, they’ll hear it)

All of these methods will help – trust me – I know. It’s easy to overlook these simple things, but take some time – maybe over coffee one day and make a list of how many ways you can promote your own site – most of them are free…

One more thing - lose the paper coffee cups and powdered cream.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Investigative Interview in Anticipation of Litigation

By Robert H. Townsend

The investigative interview is a very slippery slope. When assigned to obtain an interview, an investigator must understand that his challenge is to accomplish far more than learning the basic fundamentals of who, what, where, when and how. Insurance companies, attorneys, and corporations assign this effort rightly expect an alertness to critical information which enhances, mitigates, exculpates or clarifies the perceived degree of exposure of the matter involved. The interview, pivotal in many instances, is used as a critical tool to establish the overall cost effectiveness of whether to continue the litigation engagement or resolve the dispute by alternative methods.

The investigator must be judicious and regard the interview as a process to be tailored according to the unique characteristics of a particular matter. Balance the interview with direct, assertive questions, revisiting those questions as necessary. Cloak the interview with engaging conversation and friendly, gently placed, non offensive or argumentative, adversarial interrogation. Be quick, well-organized, kind and courteous. Regardless of how often one has handled a matter involving substantially similar dynamics, the old rule of thumb applies-- the best questions are informed questions. Research and prepare for an interview. Gather as much information as you can about the particular incident and subject that you are about to interview. A detailed briefing with counsel of the key elements of the case is recommended.

Read the whole article here

Surveillance Tip

Most people assume that using a van is the best vehicle for surveillance. This is not always true. The aim is to blend in as much as possible, and a van can be conspicuous. Instead, use a four door sedan that is dark blue in color. Blue is the most popular color for a car, followed by green.

DNA: Scientific Theory to Investigative Tool

Brief history
In 1944, it was theorized by Oswald Avery that deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was responsible for the transfer of heritable traits. Nine years later in 1953, doctors James Watson and Francis Crick constructed a large model detailing their postulated structure of DNA. The man-sized model explained the unique properties of DNA that enabled it to reproduce itself perfectly from generation to generation. Their model was the first rendition of the double helix.

Extensive studies of DNA during the 1980’s revealed polymorphic (variable) regions between people at the genetic level. The effort to locate variable regions was fueled by the search for disease markers. While performing disease research, Alec Jeffreys realized DNA’s potential as a tool for human identification and in 1984 coined the phrase “DNA fingerprint”.

The first forensic case solved using DNA profiling occurred in England during the mid 1980’s. An additional factor contributing to the uniqueness of this case is that the entire male population of four villages in the English Midlands was required to submit blood for DNA testing, thereby establishing the first DNA database for comparison to criminal evidence. Over 4,000 men between the ages of 13 and 34 were tested. The implementation of this dragnet method of testing resulted in an innocent man’s exoneration and a guilty man’s conviction.

Read the rest of this article here

Dirty Dancing

(submitted by Jim Toth)

Date Line: South Beach
Assignment : Conduct Video surveillance of female target dancing in nightclubs with more gusto than a married women should have. (at least without her husband!)

After three late night dance halls and two investigators negotiating around attempting to get a clear shot of the errant wife conducting dirty dancing lessons with male partners 1/2 her age, and this investigator getting sleepy. The problem with our pager/eyeglass cams was the lighting. Without proper candle power, all you really get in a nightclub atmosphere is a dark shape and a lot of telling your client " yea.. that's your wife out there on the dance floor... I think!
Solution: A $50.00 bill and a trip up to the D.J.'s booth- The brightest spotlight in his arsenal was shown upon her for a good 5 minutes... of course she thought she was a star during that client , well he made other plans... legal plans that is.

Jim Toth

Frequently Asked Questions about Computer Forensics

Q: What qualifications should we look for in a computer forensic examiner?

A: There are an increasing number of people hanging out their shingle as computer forensic examiners.

Some are among the most qualified individuals in the country; others are opportunists, lacking expertise, certification or training, who believe they can make fast money.

Some factors to consider include:
Is the person a former law enforcement, government, or military examiner? (Note: Not just a former member of one of those organizations, but someone that actually did examinations for the organization.)

The best forensic training has historically only been available to these groups. Examiners in this group have been trained in proper evidence handling and documentation. They are accustomed to operating at a proof level of beyond a reasonable doubt.

Read more here

Federal Legislation Is Proposed To Criminalize Seeking or Selling Telephone Data

Legislation that would criminalize obtaining, selling or, under some circumstances, possessing, telephone customer information, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Law Enforcement and Phone Privacy Protection Act of 2006, H.R. 4709 would, "amend title 18, United States Code, to strengthen protections for law enforcement officers and the public by providing criminal penalties for the fraudulent acquisition or unauthorized disclosure of phone records." Phone records that are linked to subscribers include their call history -telephone calls made on that phone line- but also just the subscriber name and address. The ostensible reason for the blanket prohibition, which does not exempt anyone other than law enforcement, is because disclosure

"...not only assaults individual privacy but, in some instances, may further acts of domestic violence, compromise the personal safety of law enforcement officers, their families, or confidential informants, and undermine the integrity of law enforcement investigations."

I haven't seen any media reports that cite instances of law enforcement safety or investigations being compromised. I imagine the people who access records for that reason aren't going to be too concerned about the 5 years they could get in the can.