Archive for February, 2012

Are you reading this story on your phone via a link on Twitter, Facebook or some other social network? You’re not alone.

A new study by research firm comScore says 64.2 million U.S. citizens use their mobile devices for social networking, with more than half of them doing so “almost every day.”

A full 38.2 million people use social networks on their phones or tablets on a “near daily” basis, according to the report. What exactly are they doing? Reading updates from friends, the study says, with 84.6% of mobile social networkers checking out “posts from people known personally.” Posting status updates was the second most popular activity, with 73.6% of users partaking. It’s important to note comScore counts reading blogs as social networking.

While the study found users are most likely to read posts from friends, it also says people are increasingly using their social networks to interact with brands and organizations. Almost 58% of U.S. users read posts from companies or brands, and about 32% are said to be likely to click on ads while social networking.

The overall number of people experiencing social networks through their phones or tablets is surging. That 64 million figure is up 77% from the year before, and daily users are up 88%. That growth is tied directly to smartphone adoption, which comScore says is up to 41.8% of the phone-owning audience — up from 27% just a year ago.

The top app that people use to get their social on is Facebook. On both iOS (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch) as well as Android, Facebook is the top social-networking app on mobile. Twitter is a distant second, much lower in the ranks than Facebook and even placing behind the social game Words With Friends on both platforms. (The list of top apps on iOS and Android is below.)

Although mobile social networking is rising rapidly, it’s not the reason people buy a smartphone. The study says a particular phone’s social-networking abilities was far down the list of factors in a purchase decision, the No. 1 being the network quality of the mobile service provider. The phone’s operating system and overall app selection also rank highly.

How often do you get social on your smartphone or tablet? Do you think the comScore study accurately reflects how people use social media on mobile devices?

Mexican Mayhem Fuels U.S. ‘Bodyguard’ Boom

On the surface, the drug war across the border boils down to a conflict between Mexico’s military and rival groups of cartels. This is true, but it leaves out Mexico’s other conflict — one fought against civilians through kidnapping, extortion and assassination. Little wonder that those who can afford it are now fueling a boom in professional bodyguards and guns-for-hire, many of them based in the United States.

And the boom is not just limited to jobs in Mexico — it’s happening on both sides of the border. It involves private security firms employed by both Mexican and U.S. citizens traveling from one country to the other, to border regions, or fueled by Mexican citizens relocating to the U.S. to escape the violence. The jobs given to the bodyguards involve protecting their clients against violent cartel threats and abductions, and helping negotiate kidnapping cases.

There are also serious risks. Some companies won’t work in Mexico proper because of the danger, while others do so — quietly.

R. Kent Morrison, president of Texas security firm BlackStone Group, hates the term bodyguard. For the heavily-built ex-Navy commando and Gulf War veteran, the term suggests a “big hulking gorilla with dark sunglasses and the trench coat.” Tucked away in a small office building in the wooded suburbs of west Austin, BlackStone is among a number of companies near the border competing in the more exclusive field of “executive protection,” security industry lingo for a more elite (and expensive) brand of hired muscle.

“Historically in the U.S., security has been the stereotypical, polyester-clad, eight-dollar-an-hour security guard, and that more than anything is just a way to reduce liability insurance costs,” Morrison says. “What we do is focus on providing security to usually high-net-worth individuals who actually have a need for security and aren’t provided that by some government entity.”

But when discussing Mexico, Morrison is cautious. He says BlackStone is seeing growth from Mexican nationals, mostly business executives traveling north, but only gives a rough estimate and doesn’t give out the names of individual customers. “I’ll tell you in the last five years the requests that we’ve had for those types of services from individuals and businessmen traveling from south of the border has probably doubled,” he said.

He says having a security detail in Mexico is now a literal “status symbol” for the country’s elite. And as that elite relocates to states like Texas because of violence or travels to do business, “they want to duplicate the services that they’ve grown accustomed to down south.”

This caution to discuss specifics reflects the shadowy and hazardous nature of Mexico’s private security business. Clayton International, an “executive protection” and counter-kidnapping subsidiary of longtime Iraq mercenary group Triple Canopy, and reported to work extensively in Mexico, said it would not answer questions from Danger Room due the “sensitivity of the subject.” Philip Klein, president of Houston-area Klein Investigations and Consulting, said his company has seen a 120 percent increase over the past two years, from 55 “sorties” to Mexico in 2009 to 121 last year. Klein expects the “unrest to continue down there, unless the government can get control,” and therefore more business for his company. But Klein is reluctant to discuss details.

One reason for the reluctance, according to a Triple Canopy employee speaking on background to Danger Room, is sheer risk. “The thing about working in Mexico is despite what movies or T.V. or popular perception might be is that nobody down there is armed on an executive protection detail. The Mexicans will not allow it — period,” the employee said. And not only that, if the cartels do attempt an assassination, they will “kill the protective detail too just to make sure all the loose ends are tied up.”

Mexico does indeed prohibit foreign nationals from carrying weapons. Instead, companies have subcontracted out the gun-slinging to Mexican freelancers and local firms. Rather than an armed U.S. mercenary team, a typical security detail includes two unarmed “detail leaders” from the U.S. in charge of four armed Mexican guards, hired from local firms or police officers moonlighting for extra pay. The U.S. agents call the shots and pick the travel routes, while the Mexican guards provide the muscle and firepower.

But the reliance U.S. mercs have on their armed Mexican subcontractors comes with another set of risks: the subcontractors can be easily out-bidded. Morrison said that “on a Tuesday, this group may be a completely solid group and Thursday they’ve been corrupted by the cartels.”

But whether the demand in border states like Texas is being fueled by actual threats of kidnapping or just the fear it could happen, however, is hard to ascertain. But Mexican citizens are facing a different level of risk. In a nod to the reality of the sometimes blurry distinctions between legitimate business in Mexico and organized crime, Morrison added that clients have told him: “‘A competitor made a play for my company and I have to come in and make sure they don’t strengthen that play by snatching my kid.’”

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FARGO, N.D. – He was unemployed and receiving welfare, but Adekunle Adetiloye was somehow living lavishly, complete with a Range Rover, extended trips to England and an expensive condominium.

That alone piqued authorities’ interest, but then there were two credit cards tucked away in his wallet that seemed to confirm suspicions that Adetiloye, a Nigerian-born Canadian citizen, was up to something nefarious. The cards each bore different names — Donald Douglas and Vincent Andriole — and helped authorities prosecute a case they describe as one of the largest high-tech bank robberies in U.S. history.

“Characterizing this fraud scheme as massive, if anything, is an understatement,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick Chase of North Dakota said in court documents.

Adetiloye, 30, was sentenced Monday to nearly 18 years in prison on fraud charges. He was convicted of mail fraud, but authorities believe he masterminded a scheme to open nearly 600 fraudulent bank accounts and bilk 22 major banks out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Federal prosecutor Nick Chase said during the sentencing hearing in North Dakota that Adetiloye had an “insatiable hunger for other people’s money.”

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson handed down a 214-month prison term and scheduled a Feb. 15 hearing to discuss returning the nearly $1.5 million in losses to credit card companies and banks.

Defense attorney Richard Henderson had asked for a sentence of fewer than 16 years. Henderson said any prison time for his client is more difficult than it would be for American citizens because he has no family in the United States.

Investigators’ efforts to deconstruct the complicated case are laid out in nearly 12,000 pages of court documents filed by lawyers in federal court.

Greg Krier, lead credit card fraud investigator for U.S. Bank, testified that it was the most complex case he had ever seen. His company, which has its own fraud unit, launched special training sessions focusing on the case in hopes of catching the culprits.

The case wound up in North Dakota after U.S. Bank’s customer service center in Fargo intercepted calls by Adetiloye and others. The scheme, which took five years to investigate and litigate, was highlighted in a sentencing phase that lasted nearly a year and included numerous hearings and briefings.

The lead investigator, one of 25 people who worked on the case, put in 2,000 hours, authorities said.

Defense attorneys argued that their client, the only person charged, was a “marginal and minimal participant” whose role was to handle mail and withdraw money from ATMs. The government and the judge have said otherwise.

Erickson, the federal judge, said in court documents ahead of the sentencing that the evidence “indisputably demonstrates” that Adetiloye was a leader or organizer of the scheme. The judge calculated losses to banks at about $1.5 million, but said it could have been as high as $5 million if credit limits had been maxed out.

The trauma cannot be measured, Erickson said.

“The non-monetary harm to the victims was substantial,” the judge wrote. “They lost sleep, they lost time with their families, they lost time at work, and they lost their sense of security. Some victims spent hours trying to reclaim their credit record and their identities.”

Investigators said the operation accessed personal information of nearly 16,000 people, about 500 of whom had their identities stolen for the purpose of obtaining credit cards. It’s alleged that more than 100 commercial mailboxes were opened under false or stolen identities.

The government said Adetiloye went so far as to mask his handwriting after a judge ordered a test of his calligraphy

Court documents show that U.S. Bank suffered the most tainted accounts, at 130, for a total loss of about $76,000. The companies alleged to have lost the most money were Citibank, at about $271,000, and Discover, at about $248,000.

Brett Bogan, security investigations manager at Reed Elsevier, the parent company of LexisNexis and ChoicePoint, told the court that data breaches of this type are extremely rare and he knew of only one other case like it. He said the company sent notices to more than 32,000 people whose personal information was compromised by the scheme.

“With their combined extensive and nationwide perspective, those entities place this fraud scheme at or near the top of their historical lists in terms of size and complexity,” Chase said in court documents.

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The Portland FBI is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Rick Devan Hendrix, 56, and Sarah Candace Deswert-Hendrix, 30, who are wanted in connection with an alleged Internet fraud and cyber crime scheme.

Hendrix and Deswert face mail and wire fraud charges for allegedly taking pictures of items in stores, posting the items for sale on an Internet auction site, and collecting money from bidders. Victims in Oregon, Washington, and California suffered more than $300,000 in losses.

The FBI, in conjunction with Clear Channel Outdoor, has placed information about the case on a new electronic billboard in Washington County. Forty-seven fugitives have been captured with the aid of electronic billboards since the initiative began in 2007. In the first year alone, billboards helped lead to the capture of 14 fugitives.

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Social apps ‘harvest smartphone contacts’

Twitter has admitted copying entire address books from smartphones and storing the data on its servers, often without customers’ knowledge.

Access to the address book is enabled when users click on the “Find Friends” feature on smartphone apps.

Two US congressmen have written to Apple asking why the firm allows the practice on its iPhone, as it contravenes app developer guidelines.

Twitter has said it will update its privacy policy to be more explicit.

The practice came to light when an app developer in Singapore, Arun Thampi, noticed that his contacts had been copied from his iPhone address book without his consent by a social network called Path.

Dave Morin, CEO of Path, apologised and said Path would ask users to opt in to share their contact information.

However, he noted separately that it was an “industry best practice” to upload or import address book information.

iPhone apps by social sites including Facebook, FourSquare, Instagram, Foodspotting and Yelp are also reported to access the address book.

However, Facebook has told the BBC that its app will only upload address information if the user opts to sync their contacts with the website.
Permission not granted

Critics have noted that these apps are all available for download from Apple’s iTunes store, even though the practice of copying address book contacts without prior consent appears to violate its user guidelines.

The Apple guidelines say: “Apps that read or write data outside its designated container area will be rejected.”

They add: “Apps cannot transmit data about a user without obtaining the user’s prior permission.”

Social networks have said that data taken from smartphones – which includes names, phone numbers and email addresses – is used only to identify friends who used the same service, and notify the user.

But sometimes the data appears to be taken without first informing the user, or indicating how long the information will be saved for.

Twitter said it would update its app in the wake of the disclosure, and clarify its privacy policy for users.

“We want to be clear and transparent in our communications with users. Along those lines, in our next app updates, which are coming soon, we are updating the language associated with Find Friends – to be more explicit,” Twitter spokeswoman Carolyn Penner said.

Currently, Twitter tells users that it “may customize your account with information such as a cellphone number for the delivery of SMS messages or your address book so that we can help you find Twitter users you know”.

Twitter informs iPhone users that it will “scan your contacts for people you already know on Twitter”.

However, the Los Angeles Times reported that the app in fact uploads every address book contact and stores it for 18 months – something not made clear by the app.

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Signs of a Cheating Spouse

What do private investigators say are the most common signs of a cheating spouse?

When you suspect infidelity in your relationship it can be difficult to determine whether or not your suspicions are valid and if so, what to do next. At PInow, we surveyed our network of trusted infidelity investigators to find out what, in their experience, are the common indications of infidelity in a relationship. The following graphic displays the six major signs of a cheating spouse, what to expect in an infidelity investigation and other statistics on infidelity and marriage.

And the 6 common signs of a cheating spouse are …

1. Changes in Intimacy 2. Suspicious Phone Habits 3. Changes in Appearance 4. Suspicious Internet Use 5. Changes in Work Routine 6. Changes in Bathing Habits

Other signs included concealing credit card statements or having bills mailed to a P.O. box, finding strange receipts, going out or running long errands without the spouse, flirting with friends of the opposite sex and a change in overall attitude. Infidelity investigations can cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000 and last anywhere from 4 hours to 6 months. Most investigators said their investigations verify infidelity 75-100% of the time. Other statistics show that when spouses cheat, 55% of the time it’s the husband while 45% of the time it’s the wife. 30-60% of married people will cheat on their spouse according to a range that compensates for dishonesty among study participants. 74% of husbands and 68% of wives say they would have an affair if they knew they wouldn’t get caught. 85% of wives who suspect their husbands are cheating are correct 85% of the time, while husbands who suspect their wives are cheating are correct 50% of the time. Marriage statistics were provided by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, Indiana University, Business Week, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal

“In the world of executive protection it is of great importance to see how quickly you could become fully operational again after being shot from close range”, Robert Kaiser says after personally being shot, testing their new covert bullet proof vests.

A high definition video has now been made available on YouTube, highlighting the CEO of PPSS Body Armour being shot from approx 9 feet or 3 meters.

The shot was fired from a Glock 19 handgun, using 9x19mm FMJ 124gr ammunition.

Robert Kaiser is one of the very first men in this industry who has decided to ‘put his money where his mouth is’.

“I have seen many body armour companies making astonishing claims, so I decided to offer real physical evidence using live ammunition” he says.

Robert explained in great depth and personally ensured this video was not produced to create any type of tough guy image, and it should also not be seen a disregard to human life.

Having viewed the video, it is fair to say that all reasonable and necessary precautions have been taken prior to the production. One of the country’s leading trauma nurse was present, paramedics were on stand by and an IV was prepared in order to infuse essential drugs in case something did go wrong.

PPSS Body Armour have now launched this ultra light and extremely thin NIJ Level IIIA+ bullet proof vest in order to offer executive and diplomatic security professionals the best possible concealable protection.

With a weight of only 1.65kg, a thickness of just 6.5mm and protective area of 0.28sqm, this new outstanding bullet proof vest certainly means business.

Made out of a high performance ballistic material, this new bullet proof vest also offers additional protection from Tokarev Ball 7.62 x 25mm and Makarov 9 x 18mm.

Waterproof and breathable Cordura® 180 and groundbreaking temperature controlling Outlast® space technology make this great body armour an ideal choice especially in hot and humid conditions.

A specially developed 0.85mm trauma liner provides extremely effective blunt trauma protection.

View Video Here

It seems like everyone loves an unsolved crime. Television shows such as Unsolved Mysteries, Cold Case Files and America’s Most Wanted, as well as a host of others, crop up on a regular basis remain popular partly because, deep down, human beings seek social justice for the wrongs committed. Cases that go unpunished remain on our minds longer.

Across the country there are hundreds of thousands of unsolved crimes and cold cases. They seem to sit on the shelf year after year, gaining little or no momentum and growing colder by the day. Private investigators have proven to be very valuable in assisting clients in these cases and often shed new light or bring a differing perspective; bringing these cases back out into the open breathes new life into them.

There are far too many police departments overloaded with crimes to investigate and unfortunately, there is often simply not enough manpower or time to devote the necessary resources to some unsolved cases. This is not to say that police departments do not care about justice or seeking the truth, they do… but budget constraints, lack of manpower and heavy caseloads necessitate focusing more effort on current cases and less on those that seem to have gone cold. Momentum understandably slows down as law enforcement investigators are assigned and reassigned to other cases, some more pressing than others.

A private investigator can devote a great deal of quality time to re-investigate and closely scrutinize all aspects of a given case. Investigators are often hired to widen theories, identify new leads in the case, interview or re-interview witnesses, and interface with law enforcement.

With expertise, private investigators can take an unsolved crime or a cold case file and scour it with fresh eyes and new perspective. With new insight they can then begin to follow the evidence, across typical jurisdiction-limits, setting aside any preconceived notions and allowing the evidence to tell the story.

Private investigators can assist by revisiting officer narratives and reports, re- interviewing witnesses, family members and police officers to compare what each person has to say. Tips and leads are sometimes ignored during an initial investigation or can become overlooked or dismissed as unimportant. The odds of resolution decrease each day that passes and the longer the investigation goes on. Uncovering new leads, reviewing the existing work conducted by law enforcement often offers fresh leads on a cold case.

During a cold case investigation, private investigators should focus on gaining as much publicity and exposure as possible in order to develop new leads and tips. Even though publicity fades over time, the savvy investigator, through the help of the media, can keep the case alive or bring it back to life.

Contrary to popular television shows, law enforcement personnel respect professional private investigators. It is important for the private investigator to treat law enforcement personnel as partners in their investigative efforts… we are all working toward the same goal! Always work in full cooperation with law enforcement and never approach a cold case as trying to “fix” the case, or “accomplish what they could not.” Approach a cold case investigation as a contribution; shedding new light and providing new dimensions of understanding to any unsolved crime is a benefit to the society in which we live.

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Conducting interviews is a vital skill for internal FCPA investigators. After reviewing endless emails, technical memos and accounting ledgers, we almost always have to speak directly to someone in order to run potential FCPA violations to ground.

Often, the primary objective of such interviews is to elicit as much information as possible about the underlying matter. Here are my ten rules for ensuring this happens.

1. Preparation is half the battle – maybe more. The difference between a well-planned interview and one where the interviewer “wings it” is like night and day. And the stakes are high. Surprising facts can come to light during “routine” interviews, and interviewers often get only one opportunity to meet with a witness. A well-considered interview outline can keep you on track and prevent you from missing important topics after the interview is off and running. It also helps to show that you take the interview and the interviewee seriously, which helps to establish rapport.

2. Establish rapport. As Raúl Saccani, Head of Forensic Accounting at KPMG Argentina, says: the interviewee will be nervous at the start of an interview no matter what. Nervousness often translates into a hesitance to share information fully, which can make an interview difficult and limit its success. To break through this resistance, one has to establish rapport. There are many ways to do it, but I find that being clear, respectful, and fair goes a long way. Specifically, I try to describe the purpose of the interview to the interviewee, and take time to answer questions. I also try to ask questions that are objective and not leading or overly biased. When all is said and done, I ask if the interviewee if they have anything else to add.

3. Know when to cut off the witness. Sometimes getting the interviewee to talk is not the problem. Interviewees often linger on topics they consider safe or interesting. Interviewers need to be alert for distractions and delays, and should be prepared to gently but firmly get the interview back on course.

4. Beware the federal prosecutor fallacy. Some say that former federal prosecutors are best positioned to conduct interviews in internal FCPA investigations given their past experiences. They include my friend and colleague Mike Volkov, a former prosecutor and someone I agree with about 95% of the time (to borrow a phrase from FCPA compliance guru Howard Sklar). In my experience, however, former federal prosecutors (who are invariably smart, talented, and dedicated attorneys) often approach interviews aggressively, as if they were seeking confessions rather than the more open-ended information that results from good rapport. This is certainly not always true – many, like Mike, easily make the jump to private sector interviews. The larger lesson is that interviewers should pay attention to their own biases. If you have learned how to investigate with the weight of the federal government behind you, you may need to adjust your approach when the government is no longer behind you.

5. Use documentary evidence to verify. Whether based on misunderstanding or bad intent, some witnesses can look you directly in the eye and tell you something that is not true. To handle this, it is important to know your documents and to have key evidence on hand during the interview. A witness cannot run from an e-mail, invoice, or memo, and once you have pulled a couple of these out of your briefcase, they often stop hiding the ball. Even when an interviewee is trying to be forthcoming, documents can help refresh memory or verify the credibility and accuracy of responses.

6. Interview one person at a time. Witnesses will sometimes ask to be interviewed together. There might be reasonable reasons for this – they might want the input of a colleague to tell the whole story. But you are unlikely to get unfiltered views, contradictory evidence or criticism if people are interviewed together. Intentionally or not, witnesses tend to coordinate their responses when interviewed together.

7. Conduct interviews off-site whenever possible. By conducting an interview off-site, the interviewee is taken out of their usual context, and they act differently. You are more likely to get the unbiased thoughts interviewees share with their friends or spouses if they are not at work. You are also more likely to get critical opinions when the interviewee is not going to see the person they are talking about as soon as you open the door. James Tillen, Coordinator of Miller & Chevalier’s FCPA and Anti-Corruption Practice Group, says, “Particularly where there are allegations against senior management at a location, I like to do interviews outside of the client’s office – for example, at a hotel conference room. Employees may be more forthcoming when senior management is not around.” I also feel that I get a better sense of an interviewee’s demeanor and credibility when I interview

8. Do not go it alone. Bring a colleague or assistant to take notes. Recording interviews can be a problem. Often, clients prefer that their employees not be recorded, and even when it is allowed, recording can make a witnesses nervous and uncommunicative. On the other hand, listening, taking notes, and asking questions are too many jobs for one interviewer. Bring someone whose job it is to make a record. The better briefed they are, the more likely they are to get down the facts you need and ask good follow-up questions.

9. Be ready to be creative: Interviews often have twists and turns. New information creates new leads, and the interviewer must be ready to adjust and react quickly. What questions arise as a result? What new matters need to be probed? Preparation is key to seeing and seizing these opportunities.

10. Do not forget Upjohn: The Upjohn warning is essential. The interviewer must explain that he or she is the company’s lawyer and not the interviewee’s own individual lawyer. The White Collar Crime Committee of the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section has produced a helpful overview of what is needed. The seasoned interviewer can usually give this warning without undermining rapport.

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Pepsi’s Settles $3M Background Check Lawsuit

Background checks have come a long way, and background check laws have changed even more. It is not against the law to keep someone from being hired based on their criminal records, but it is against the law to use the “criminal background” excuse to keep people from being hired. Pepsi Beverages will pay $3.1 million to settle federal charges of race discrimination for using criminal background checks to screen out job applicants — even if they weren’t convicted of a crime.

The settlement was announced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

EEOC officials said the company’s policy of not hiring workers with arrest records disproportionately excluded more than 300 black applicants. The policy barred applicants who had been arrested, but not convicted of a crime, and denied employment to others who were convicted of minor offenses.

Using arrest and conviction records to deny employment can be illegal if it’s irrelevant for the job, according to the EEOC, which enforces the nation’s employment discrimination laws. The agency says such blanket policies can limit job opportunities for minorities with higher arrest and conviction rates than whites.

The company has since adopted a new criminal background policy and plans to make jobs available to victims of the old policy if they are still interested in jobs at Pepsi and are qualified for the openings.

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