Los Angeles, Nashville, London
Why The Michael Agency?
Our investigative personnel have deep law enforcement investigative backgrounds, strong business acumen, extensive private sector experience and the skill sets that bring quick results.
If there is an issue we can help with, please feel free to contact us.
What is The Michael Agency Difference?
Below is the difference that benefits our clients:
- Investigators accumulated expertise from most prestigious law enforcement agencies in the world; Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, New York Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Secret Service, United States Marshals Special Operations Group, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and New Scotland Yard.
- Absolute knowledge of federal and state laws, court procedures and prosecutorial thresholds.
- Investigative Subject Matter Experts.
- Conducted investigations in 5 continents.
- Efficiency: Experience and global resources equate to cost-effectiveness for the client.
- Reliability: Our results are 100% reliable in either civil litigations or criminal proceedings.
- Consultation Without Obligation-GUARANTEED.
Photographing Celebrity Children
HARASSMENT-SECTION 11414 OF THE CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE
Under existing California law, any person who intentionally harasses a child or ward under the age of 16 of any person because of that person’s employment (public official/celebrity)
is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in county jail, not exceeding 1 year or by a fine not exceeding $10,000.00 or both.
A second conviction would require a fine not exceeding $20,000.00 and imprisonment in county jail.
Harassment means knowing and willful conduct directed at a specific child or ward, that seriously alarms, annoys, torments or terrorizes the child or ward during any actual or attempted recording of the child’s or ward’s image or voice without the written consent of the legal guardian.
By definition, HARASSMENT is following the child’s or ward’s activities or by lying in wait.
California Anti-Paparazzi Law
California Civil Code 1708.8
The nation’s first civil ANTI-PAPARAZZI law protected celebrities against physical invasion of privacy where a trespass occurred, and constructive invasion of privacy where no trespass occurred but audio or video enhancing devices were used to violate a reasonable expectation of privacy. Expanded in 2005, it punished paparazzi for assaults and altercations to photograph celebrities and denied photographers the right to profit from images illegally taken during intrusions.
CALIFORNIA CRIMINAL LAW
If paparazzi use aggressive tactics to capture pictures, they will be charged criminally with one or more of the following:
- Assault: An unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability to commit a violent injury on the person of another.
- Assault With a Deadly Weapon: Assault on a person with a deadly weapon or with force likely to cause great bodily injury (weapon must not be a firearm)by use of blunt instruments like clubs, baseball bats, or rocks and cars or even a camera.
- Battery: Any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.
- Conspiracy: An agreement or intent between two or more persons to engage jointly in a criminal act. A conspiracy occurs when two paparazzi plan a trespass to get a photo of a celebrity’s home.
- False Imprisonment: Unlawful violation of the freedom of movement of another.
- Stalking: Criminal activity comprising credible threats, repeated following and harassing of another person with intent to instill fear or injury.
- Trespass: Unlawful intrusion that interferes with a person or property. (e.g., stalking a celebrity’s children while at school, using a telephoto lens to take photos of celebrities while sunbathing at home, or attending a private funeral and taking pictures)
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
The past twenty years, many major U.S. corporations have moved operations outside the continental borders and the five territories that are permanently inhabited: Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Island and American Samoa.
As characterized during investigations conducted by the United States Securities Exchange Commission and Department of Justice, paying bribes to foreign government officials was the only way to do business.
- In 1977, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) became law. It explicitly prohibits U.S. firms and individuals from paying bribes to foreign officials in furtherance of any business deal. The FCPA places no minimum amount for the punishment of a bribery payment.FCPA applies to actions that occur worldwide and is intended to deter corruption and abuse of powers. The FCPA’s authority includes oversight of activities of publicly traded companies as well as their directors, officers, shareholders, agents, and employees. Includes working through third parties, such as consultants and partners in a joint venture.
- Accurate recording keeping of assets is required to ensure only correctly authorized transactions were taken. Internal controls must be put into place to assure regulators that transactions were accounted for properly.
- Securities Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice jointly enforce the FCPA.
- Violators face substantial sanctions and penalties to include fines double the amount of the benefit expected from the bribery. Corporate entities would be forced to accept oversight of an independent party to ensure compliance. Individuals could face imprisonment for up to five years.
- Civil action could be sought against the responsible person to include employees, stockholders, officers, directors, and third parties.
California Consumer Privacy Act
Definition of Personal Information: Information that identifies, relates to, describes, is capable of being associated with, or could be reasonably linked, directly or indirectly with a particular consumer or household.
Examples: account name, unique identifies, IP address, email address, commercial information including records of property, biometric data, internet activity-including: browsing history, search history, and information regarding interactions with websites, applications or advertisements. Professional or employment-related information and inferences are drawn from any of the above-listed information to create consumer profiles.
**Personal information under the law does not include publicly available information**
Access and Opt-out Rights for California Consumers:
- Right to Data Access: Consumers have the right to request categories of personal information, and the specific pieces of personal information collected. Upon receipt of a verifiable request, the business shall promptly provide the data and must be delivered free of charge either electronically or by mail.
- Right to Deletion: Consumers have the right to have any personal information once a verifiable consumer request is received. **Data doesn’t need to be deleted if it is necessary to maintain for the following:
- Completing a transaction
- Detecting security incidents
- Preventing fraud or
- Internal uses reasonably aligned with consumer expectations.
- Right to Know Where Data is Collected From and to Whom it is Sold: Upon a verifiable consumer request the business must:
- Reveal categories of personal information collected
- Categories of sources from which personal information is collected
- The business or commercial purposes for collecting or selling personal information
- Categories of third parties which the personal information is shared
- Specific pieces of personal information collected **Third parties will be prohibited from selling a consumer’s information which has been sold to a third party by a business unless the consumer has received explicit notice and an opportunity to Opt Out**
- Requirements on Children’s and Teen’s Data: Prohibits businesses from selling data of consumers that they have actual knowledge are under 16 or if they received written authorization. (Under the age of 13, must receive authorization from a parent or guardian.)
- Non-discrimination: Prohibits businesses from discriminating against consumers for exercising any right created by the CCPA. **The law allows differential pricing or quality where it is reasonably related to the value provided by the consumer’s data. I.E., allows businesses to offer financial incentives for the collection, sales, or deletion of personal information, provided the incentives are not unreasonable, coercive or usurious in nature**
Requirements for Businesses
**All receipts of notices by consumers must be acted upon within 45 days**
- Businesses must make two methods available for consumers to exercise their rights
- Toll-free telephone number
EXCEPTIONS TO DATA COLLECTION
Doesn’t restrict the ability of a business to:
- Comply with federal, state or local laws
- Comply with a civil, criminal, or regulatory investigations
- Cooperate with law enforcement
- Exercise or defend legal claims
- Collect, use, retain, sell or disclose personal information that is de-identified or in the aggregate or
- Collect or sell personal information that takes place wholly outside California
Internal Investigations in Overseas Workplaces
In the United States, investigations have become high-profile and big business. Most corporate investigations were streamlined and fast until the era of Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank and close scrutiny of corporate compliance and ethics. By today’s standards, internal investigations are generally slow and at times costly.
The best tip is investigatory tools forged in the United States do not always work well abroad.
U.S. multinationals involved in cross-border internal investigations always want to export their sophisticated mixed bag of American investigative strategies when dealing with such laws at the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Terrorism Financing Rules, Trade Sanctions Laws, Alien Tort Claims Statute, International violations of Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank, and the U.K. Bribery Act of 2010 (which can reach U.S.-bases employers).
Below are legal challenges to overseas internal investigations:
- Attorney-client privilege abroad as contrasted with the privilege in the U.S.
- Foreign blocking statutes and international data protection laws on U.S. litigation “e-discovery.”
- Contrasts between the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the U.K. Bribery Act 2010.
- U.S. bank secrecy laws in the cross-border context.
- Suspicious Activity Reports: Of infractions committed abroad and self-reporting to U.S. government agencies.
- Overseas whistleblower denunciations under the U.S. Dodd-Frank whistleblower, bounty program and the extraterritorial reach of U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley reporting procedures.
- U.S. deferred and non-prosecution agreements in cross-border matters.
- Prosecutorial cooperation with enforcement agencies, parallel criminal investigations in foreign jurisdictions and cross-jurisdictional settlements of criminal charges.
- Credit for foreign corporate compliance programs under U.S. criminal sentencing guidelines.
First and foremost, a U.S. investigator conducting a “local” investigation abroad must comply with the local host country law, as well as U.S. law.
U.S. investigators may need to investigate not only the “extraterritorial” charge under U.S. federal law but also far more claims under foreign local laws that do not trigger exposure under U.S. laws.
Companies based in Australia, Canada, and England have adopted U.S.-like investigative practices.
In some parts of the world, an internal investigation is mandatory as in Austria, Chile, Costa Rico, India, Japan, South Africa, and Venezuela. In Europe, some issues to consider is the local law, union representation, rules of evidence and admissibility.
Conducting internal investigations overseas isn’t the end of protective measures for the American company doing business there. Tweaking an investigative program for overseas internal matters will eliminate frustrations, conflicts and make it easier to conduct an internal investigation.
- Implement a Code of Conduct: Prohibit all acts the company has a compelling reason to prohibit such as; insider trading, environmental crime, conflict of interests, bribery/payments violations, intellectual property infractions, audit/accounting impropriety, discrimination/harassment, and other offenses. Without a Code of Conduct, the employee may be able to argue he did nothing wrong.
- Launch a Whistleblower Hotline: By law, U.S. publicly traded and foreign private issuers must make available report “procedures” for the confidential, anonymous submission by employees of complaints and concerns regarding questionable accounting or auditing matters. The global whistleblower hotline must always comply with the U.S. and foreign laws. Example: in Europe, whistleblower hotlines are complex. Europeans invoke their data protection laws to rein in American-style anonymous hotlines. Germany, the Netherlands and other European Union members require consulting with the employees before launching a hotline. Belgium, France, and Germany require government filings that disclose hotlines. Spain, Portugal, and France prohibit employers from accepting anonymous whistleblower calls. Hong Kong requires employees to consent to a whistleblower hotline.
- Build Channels for Overseas Data Exports: A U.S. company conducting internal investigations inevitably sends (exports) data back to U.S. headquarters with personal information that identifies overseas employees-whistleblowers, a person of interest and witnesses. Data protection (privacy) laws in Europe and some parts of Latin America and Asia prohibit exporting employee data with first building data export channels. In Europe those channels are called, “model contractual clauses,” “safe harbor,” “binding corporate rules.” and “employee consent.”
- Grant Necessary Data Subject Access: American investigators keep their files confidential while safeguarding the integrity of the investigation and protecting witnesses and whistleblowers. To the contrary, in Europe, Argentina, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Mexico, and Uruguay require “data controllers” such as employers to turn personal data including notes, reports, and files over to the targets of the investigations and witnesses identified in the records if they ask to see them. This is done because in the countries mentioned, employees and witnesses enjoy rights to the investigative files so they can request deletion or rectification of information that identifies them. If an American investigator doesn’t comply with the laws in the mentioned companies, they will be arrested and prosecuted in addition to a hefty fine.
- Disclose Investigation Procedures: Countries with data protection laws require employers disclose to the location data protection authority and to employee data subjects of an internal investigation.
- Appoint an investigator or investigation team: Retain someone familiar with applicable law, jurisdictional issues and competency in conducting investigations, no conflict of interests or could be a witness. Include someone on the team with language fluency and expertise in the subject matter.
- Impose Immediate Discipline If Necessary: Many times, the local law requires a 24-hour notification before an employee is disciplined. That seems contrary to the American investigative culture. Most European countries need notification to the necessary labor authorities immediately if the employee is terminated.
- Define Investigation Scope and Draft an Investigative Plan: Don’t include the scope but define the goal and set boundaries in conducting the investigation. In establishing an overseas investigation factor like the allegation, logistical, linguistic and geographic barriers. As mentioned, some European countries where a whistleblower allegation is anonymous, anonymity itself restricts the scope of the investigation-under data protection law, an anonymous tip is less credible and weaker probable cause for conducting a broad internal investigation leading to employee discipline. All plans should be reviewed by a lawyer.
- Comply with Investigatory Procedure Laws: Under American law, a nongovernment employer’s internal investigation isn’t a matter of criminal procedure because there is no state action. In some countries in Eastern Europe, local criminal procedure laws can restrict, even prohibit lawyers from conducting internal investigations.
- Research Local Substantive Law: The local laws may conflict with U.S. law. In contrast, in Dubai, an American businessman was found guilty of making bribes and sentenced to prison. At the same time, the U.S. government sought to defend him.
- Safeguard Confidentiality: Limit who receives the investigative information within a company because applicable local law may require it. Even if the norm if in the United States was to distribute the information pass several persons, i.e., human resources, general counsel.
- Secure Legal Advice and Attorney-Client Privilege: This should be done before an investigation is considered. If the applicable local law allows it, impose right away. Some countries, like China, don’t recognize the Attorney-Client Privilege.
- Account for U.S. Government Enforcement Issues: If conducting an overseas investigation, the local law is always to be taken into account, even if there is pressure to produce, transfer or record interviews. If under local law, that can’t be done. It’s a delicate balance, but the U.S. government won’t be spending time in jail, the investigator would.
- Safeguard Disclosures to and from Experts: Contractually commit to uphold confidentiality and applicable data laws. Safeguard the attorney-client privilege over disclosures to experts.
- Impose an Enforceable Litigation Hold: Destruction of documents relevant to litigation is common in U.S. domestic lawsuits. A best practice in overseas investigations is to require employees to recognize data laws overseas.
- Secure Evidence Within Management’s Physical Custody: Collect and preserve documents and electronic files relevant to the investigation without breaking into employee-held data and systems.
- Gather Evidence Outside Management’s Physical Custody: Employer reservation-of-right- to search policies are as vital internationally as they are stateside. A key issue would be whether the employer had previously forbidden local staff from using company-owned computers/systems for even incidental personal use.
Interviewing Witnesses Outside the U.S.:
- Verify Sources: Whether a whistleblower or complainant, verify if the accuser will stand by the accusations. Confirm the source of the allegations and seek corroborating evidence and witnesses. Generally, an investigation into an anonymous whistleblower tip doesn’t allow as in-depth an investigations from an unverified source.
- Neutralize or Demilitarize Interrogations: Coax out information with a softer touch. Directing accusatory statements will cause the person to not talk.
- Instruct Witnesses to Cooperate as Permissible: Only if local law allows it.
- Comply with Consultation and Representation Rules: If labor unions must be notified, do so. Don’t force an employee to breach ethics rules.
- Notify Target and Witness of Their Rights: In America, it isn’t required because police interview/interrogation laws don’t apply. In other countries, a witness or employee must be advised of their rights under the applicable law.
- Give Upjohn Warnings, Demand Witness Confidentiality and Conduct Interviews Legally: In the United States, employees and witness should always be given their Upjohn warnings, which tells each employee or witness that the investigator represents the employer and may be covered by confidentiality obligations, but overseas they must be told that the content of the interview could be given to third parties of the investigation, i.e., representation of the accused would receive the documents. Investigators conducting investigations should always keep the investigation confidential, regardless.
Communications, Discipline and Remedial Measures in an Overseas Investigation: After evidence is collected and interviews completed, decide on the investigation findings. Address discipline and remedial measures. These steps must be consistent with the results and with applicable employment, data protection, and criminal laws. Then report on the findings.
- When an investigation uncovers financial impropriety, money losses or violations comply with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) accounting as well as SOX accounting mandates and foreign Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
- Report to Upper Management: Limit the circle of upper management receiving investigative briefings or reports.
- Implement Post-Investigative Discipline: Correct the wrongdoing and impose discipline consistent with investigative findings and upper-management agreement.
Surveillance - What You Need to Know
The reason to use surveillance would be to gather actionable intelligence to support legal proceedings both civil and criminal and monitor post-termination activities.
The use of the right surveillance has saved lives and corporations and individuals billions of dollars collectively.Four types could be utilized in an investigation, where intelligence on a subject or subjects is needed.
Many times there are circumstances where a person has displayed behavior that is alarming and potentially dangerous. At the moment there weren’t enough overt acts to have the person arrested or to support a restraining order or providing information to make crucial corporate decisions.
They are Stationary, Aerial, Electronic, and Mobile.
Stationary provides minimal intelligence. That depends if the investigators have a vantage point. The major weakness in using stationary is how inflexible it can be and once the subject leaves a location intelligence gathering stops.
Aerial provides an overview from above the ground. It isn’t cost effective, because you would need a fixed wing, helicopter or drone, plus investigators on the ground providing a detailed description. To identify an individual, license plates and street addresses is virtually impossible. The follow-up investigation in using a drone, for example, is time-consuming. A drone would need to be at street level to obtain descriptions of people, cars and building addresses. It has its advantages, but the impracticality of it is outweighed.
Electronic is to wiretap or overhear conversations through the use of malware. Only federal, state and municipal law enforcement agencies have that ability with a signed search warrant by a judge. The criminal penalties for engaging in such activities amount to dozens of years in federal or state prison.
Mobile surveillance is when investigators operate covertly,following someone in an urban or rural setting. Mobile surveillance is legal in every State of the Union and in other countries. As long as investigators don’t trespass to obtain information, there are no issues.
Mobile surveillance expertise to the investigator that didn’t have a background before obtaining their license is extraordinarily complicated and dangerous. It takes years for an investigator to master the art of surveillance. The ability to anticipate and react in split seconds is something that a person without years of experience doesn’t have.
The simplest explanation would be to look in your rearview or side view mirrors and notice the traffic around you appears to be normal. Someone with limited experience always overdrives and reveals their presence, by being too close and driving erratically. At that point it isn’t surveillance, it’s following someone. Once they know, they are being followed any inappropriate, deviant or illegal behavior would stop.
To obtain the kind of experience needed to be competent in surveillance requires constant exposure week in and week out for years. Former law enforcement professionals that worked in extended assignments that caused for mobile surveillance gained valuable experience with skills that transfer to the civilian world.
Finally, the reason to have investigators in the field that know how to surveil is civil exposure to the client. There has been civil case law where investigators overdrove, and that resulted in severe accidents and liability exposure to the client.
When looking for a company that advertises surveillance ask questions about the experience of those providing the service.
Such as: Where did the investigators working my case gain their experience? How many years of surveillance experience do they have? How many surveillance cases does your company work in a given year?
When those questions are asked, the response should come comfortably and confidently.
The crime of kidnapping had been solely a state crime until 1932. What changed that was the kidnapping of Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr., the 20-month-old son of Charles and Ann Lindbergh.
Young Charles was kidnapped during the night of March 1, 1932, from his bedroom at the Lindbergh compound in Hopewell Township, New Jersey. At the time, kidnapping was not a federal offense. Young Charles’ kidnapping was investigated by the New Jersey State Police.
At the time, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had established field offices across the United States. J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the F.B.I., offered manpower in the running down of leads and the use of the most advanced forensic laboratory in the United States. Reluctantly, the New Jersey State Police allowed agents to accompany detectives during the investigation.
Two months later, young Charles’ murdered body was discovered buried on the Lindbergh estates’ property.
At the time Charles Lindbergh Sr. was a national treasure, and the kidnapping and murder of his child prompted the United States Congress to pass legislation making it a federal crime to kidnap a person and cross state lines. Known as the FederalKidnapping Act-18 U.S. Code, 120(a)(1), popularly known as the Lindbergh Law or Little Lindberg Law was effective on June 22, 1932.
For decades law enforcement across the globe investigated crimes of kidnapping at state and federal levels in a traditional manner. That changed twenty years ago when criminals from Mexico introduced a new type of “kidnapping.”
American law enforcement received calls where a relative was allegedly kidnapped in Mexico, and the kidnapper demanded money or the person would be killed. Law enforcement would contact their sources in Mexico and learn, the person that was allegedly kidnapped wasn’t. A hoax had taken place to get a quick buck from an honest person.
An example that exists to this day: The criminal would place a call, and the conversation generally started like this, “We have your (relative) and want money. If you don’t cooperate, we will kill them.” The person receiving the call would get instructions on where to wire the money and sometimes, where to meet someone who would take it from them. The caller was so convincing, there wasn’t an alternative but to send the money.
The end result was, there wasn’t a kidnapping, it was a hoax. The calls continued, and people gave money because they didn’t have an easy way to confirm that the relative in question was indeed kidnapped.
Over the years, this type of activity has been called Virtual Kidnapping, Cyber Kidnapping, or Digital Kidnapping. It has been adopted by many types of organized criminal enterprises and individuals seeking to make a quick buck without the possibility of being arrested and prosecuted.
Unless a person was physically taken against their will, there technically isn’t a kidnapping. What occurs is an effort by some scam artists to create fear and act upon it. Depending on the state, the crime falls under the title of “Extortion or Theft by Fraud, Deceit or Trick.”
The person that receives the call, many times isn’t given enough time to verify the status of their friend or relative that was allegedly kidnapped. So, to be on the safe side, they wire the money or meet at a designated location.
The real issue is how to handle the call. Most times they will call and say we have your child, friend, or relative. The scam artist many times has no personal knowledge about who they are calling. They may state your daughter is with them, but you don’t have a daughter.
Get the information on where to send the money, then immediately call the person that allegedly is kidnapped to check on their status. Once you determine that there is no kidnapping, contact your local law enforcement to report the incident.
Money Laundering Part 1
Part 1 will cover to include: a definition, a brief history, and the instruments of money laundering. We will help you have a solid, basic knowledge of what money laundering is all about.
Part 2 will cover how to combat money laundering.
Money laundering is the process of making large amounts of money generated by a criminal activity appear to have come from a legitimate source. The money from criminal activity is considered dirty, and the process “launders” it to make it look clean.
The history of money laundering is as old as man and crime.
It is a cliché, “Crime Doesn’t Pay,” but the truth of the matter is, crime does pay and if you’re good at it, lucrative is an understatement.
Money laundering has been glamorized on television and in the movies.
Individuals or organized criminal groups, involved in a variety of criminal activity will generate significant sums of money, which equates to huge profits. These individuals or organizations go to great lengths to disguise illegal origin. Hiding the source is critical because it enables individuals or organizations to enjoy without detection from law enforcement and financial institutions, and most importantly, the taxman.
The source of the illegal activity could have a legitimate purpose but was manipulated and resulted in financial gain that was not revealed and concealed from being correctly taxed.
Then there are the sources that are illegal such as illegal arms sales, smuggling illegal or legal goods cross the border without documentation, activities of organized crime, to include; drug trafficking, prostitution rings, embezzlement, insider trading, bribery, and computer fraud schemes are a small number known to the public.
Criminals will not only disguise the source but change the form or move funds to a place where they are less likely to attract attention.
The very nature of laundering ill-gotten gains weighs heavily on the economies of nations.
The exact amount of money laundered in the world is not known, but there were projects undertaken by two respectable anti-money laundering organizations: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Financial Action Task Force and its 40 countries membership estimated between 3.6 % and 5.2% of the worlds’ total Gross Domestic Product is attributed to money laundering.
Instruments of Money Laundering
Money Services Businesses (MSBs) are non-bank money transmitters that provide a full range of financial products and services.
The below four identified instruments have exploded within the past fifteen years as it pertains to money laundering operations across the globe.
The sheer volume and accessibility of these instruments make them attractive to money launderers operating in nearly every part of the world.
Western Union runs the largest non-bank money transmitter network in the world with more than 225,000 agent locations in 195 countries and territories worldwide.
- CHECK CASHERS: Money launderers use check-cashing businesses to launder funds via third-party checking. To do that, a launderer will make daily visits to small businesses to purchase checks made out to that business by uninvolved third parties. By selling these checks to the launderer, the business benefits by receiving immediate cash, avoiding bank or check-cashing fees, income tax, and passing on the risk of bad checks to the launderer. The launderer pays for the check using illicit cash and then redeems the checks without causing the filing of a Currency Transaction Report (CRT) by not taking payment in cash. Launderers sometimes purchase check-cashing businesses outright, so checks can be deposited directly into the launderer’s bank account without a CTR being filed. Check cashing companies engaged in laundering via third party checks being deposited make up the remainder with dirty cash. Illicit check cashers may arouse suspicion by removing bills in large denominations. To avoid scrutiny, launderers will send endorsed third party checks out of the country to be cashed or deposited. When these checks are cashed or deposited at foreign banks, the U.S. bank my take note and during the clearing process file a Suspicious Activities Report.
- Currency Exchangers: Also referred to as: currency dealers, money exchangers, and bureaux de changes provide conversion of banknotes of one country for that of another. They are abused by launderers during the placement state of money laundering. Although currency exchange poses a less severe risk, companies such as “Casas de Cambio” play a significant role in money laundering operations, particularly for narcotics trafficking organizations. Casas de Cambio currency exchange offices are located along the U.S. border with Mexico from California to Texas. There are over 1,000 exchange offices that are located in retail facilities such as gas stations, and travel agencies are located. They are unregistered and noncompliant with SAR reporting requirements and suspected of being the primary non-bank money laundry mechanism in the southwest border area. Typical Casas de Cambio locations launder as much as $5 million per month, on behalf of drug traffickers. Most of the Casas de Cambio locations are run from mobile or temporary situations such as pickup trucks, trailers, sheds, and even telephone booth. The U.S. based Casas de Cambio locations maintain close relationships with their Mexican counterparts to facilitate fund transfers.
- MONEY ORDERS: 830 million money orders valued at over $100 billion are issued annually. The money order industry is small as compared to other MSBs but easier to access. Eighty percent of all money orders are issued by the USPS, Western Union, and Traveler’s Express/MoneyGram. The remaining 20% are issued by smaller, regional companies scattered throughout the United States. Money Orders can be issued in high-dollar denominations and replaceable if lost. Anonymity is a major attraction to launderers. They are issued anonymously for amounts under $3,000.00. Most sellers/issuers do not have any relationship with their customers and very little if any information is required to purchase a money order. Without the “Original” information, it can be impossible for law enforcement to detect patterns of unlawful activity by a group or individual, or to track suspicious transactions to their source or recipient. There is a lack of regulatory oversights involving money orders. In amounts of $3,000.00 or more, by a given individual during a business day transaction reports are required. Most money order businesses will only sell amounts no greater than $2,000.00 to avoid the reporting process.
- Stored Value Cards: Referred to as “Prepaid Cards.” The term stored value cards can cover a variety of uses and technologies. Some cards have embedded data processing chips, some have a magnetic stripe, and some cards have an access number or password. Stored cards are characterized as operating within either an “open” or “closed” system. Open system cards can be used to connect to global debit and A.T.M. networks. An Open System car typically can be reloaded, allowing the cardholder to add value. Closed System Cards are limited in that they can only used to buy goods or services from a merchant issuing the card. The vulnerabilities for Stored Value Cards evolve around the liberal to no limits on the amount of cash that can be loaded on the card. The cards are easily transported without drawing attention to law enforcement. A recent law enforcement investigation out of New York identified hundreds of cards, loaded with tens of thousands of dollars.
Money Laundering Part 2
MONEY LAUNDERING PART 2
How to Combat It
In Part One, we discussed the instruments of money laundering.
In this FAQ entry, we talk about combating the sophisticated crime of Money Laundering.
In a perfect world, institutions cooperate with all aspects of combating a problem that grows exponentially every year. With that in mind, we discuss how that would look in a perfect world.
Due Diligence: It involves knowing the customer, always obtaining information on the proposed transaction and verifying the information through identification and certificates.
The credentials used for the process is updated as appropriate, i.e., presenting new forms of identification upon expiration. If those forms of identification are not processed, then policy wouldn’t allow any transaction until resolved.
Traceability of Transactions: All transactions, regardless of the amounts shall be recorded as to ensure traceability. For that reason, the below-listed information is necessary:
- Names of customers, their addresses, names of authorized signatories, and proxies involved in case of a legal entity.
- Identify number and other personally identified information.
- Legal domicile/residence.
- Information on the amounts of the transactions, the currencies concerned, and nature of the transaction.
- Information on the amounts used for the transactions.
- Point in time of the transactions and name of the recipient of funds if applicable.
Due Diligence for Individuals:
Involves pertinent gathering information about the customer to include:
- Identification Number
- Legal Domicile
- Telephone Number: business, home, cellular if available
- Place of birth and nationality
- Employment, position within the company, name of employer and information on a customer’s residence if different from legal domicile
Customers prove their identity by showing valid personal identifications issued and recognized to include: passport, driver’s license, or identification card. The personal identification shall not be expired and shall include a photograph.
**To eliminate ambiguity, payment cards are no valid personal identification**
Due Diligence for Legal Entities/Corporations:
Legal entities are required to provide information on their:
- Registered Company Name
- Registration Number
- Legal Domicile
- Legal form identifying information gathered on the board of directors, owners/shareholders, and parties authorized to sign for the legal entity.
Due Diligence for Directors, Managing Directors, and Authorized Signatories: These individuals shall provide verifiable identification.
Information on Proposed Transactions: Directors, Managing Directors, and Authorized Signatories seeking to establish a lasting business relationship shall provide forthcoming details about proposed transactions, before the start of business. A special questionnaire about future business transactions is designed and completed by the parties above.
In the absence of an individual that would do business with the financial entity, extreme measures would be in place to verify the absent person’s identity. The pieces of identification are verified in advance, and watermarks and other embedded identifiers should be in place. Many financial entities have implemented voice recognition, and the phrases repeated for recognition are changed randomly for security purposes.
Estate Security - Trained vs. Untrained
It has been determined security is required to ensure the safety of the client and his family — next and most important, who will protect those assets at all cost-effectively.
Hiring plain clothes or uniform security guards with the state-mandated 40 hours of training to include classroom certification and firearms training or the “biggest and baddest” don’t under any circumstance provide the result sought.
Protecting human life requires professionals with nerves of steel.
Professionals that have encountered unpredictable behavior from dangerous persons daily.
Professionals that have the experience to either escalate or de-escalate any scenario without causing harm to those they swore to protect.
Estate Security is more than staging a security guard either inside, or outside the property perimeter.
The Michael Agency, Estate Security Protection Specialists, are trained in C.P.R., Basic Emergency Medicine, E.V.O.C. (Emergency Vehicle Operations Course), Counter-Surveillance Detection, Close-Quarters Combat, Martial Arts, Close Protection, a strong working knowledge of the law and experts in situations that become tactical.
Uniformed, plainclothes, or the biggest and baddest security guards, whether armed or unarmed, lack the training and experience to counter an attack.
It is the belief of many that the mere presence of someone large, in a uniform or plainclothes with an earpiece, will stop a deterrent. The results, if favorable, falls into the category of lucky. Lucky that they or the client didn’t get harmed.
Lack of training tends to cause those with the responsibility of protecting a person; their family and property will overreact, exposing everyone to extreme liability.
The Michael Agency’s Estate Security Protection Specialists have military or law enforcement backgrounds with formalized training from their respective agencies, or a private sector accredited program. Every Protection Specialist is licensed to carry concealed weapons.
The Michael Agency, Estate Security Protection Specialists, has provided services in all 50 States and five continents.
California Self Defense Laws at a Glance
DISCLAIMER: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Statutes/Legal Authority California Penal Code: 198.5-199
California Criminal Jury Instructions: CALCRIM 3470
Statutory Definition of Self Defense of One’s Home (Castle Doctrine)
Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily injury within his or her residence shall be presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to self, family, or a member of the household when that force is used against another person, not a member of the family or household, who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence and the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred.
Justifiable and excusable homicide is not punishable. The homicide appearing to be justifiable or excusable, the person indicted must, upon his trial, be fully acquitted and discharged.
Right of Self Defense or Defense of Another (per Jury Instructions)
The defendant is not guilty of [whatever forceful act was used in self defense] if he/she used force against the other person in lawful self defense or in defense of another. The defendant acted in lawful self defense or defense of another if:
- The defendant reasonably believed that (he/she or someone else) was in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury (or was in imminent danger of being touched unlawfully);
- The defendant reasonably believed that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against that danger; AND
- The defendant used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against that danger
Right of Self Defense in Mutual Combat or as Initial Aggressor (per Jury Instructions)
A person who engages in mutual combat or who starts a fight has a right to self defense only if:
- He/she actually and in good faith tried to stop fighting;
- He/she indicated, by word or by conduct, to his/her opponent, in a way that a reasonable person would understand, that he/she wanted to stop fighting and that he/she had stopped fighting; AND
- He/she gave his/her opponent a change to stop fighting
*A person does not have the right to self defense if he or she provokes a fight or quarrel with the intent to create an excuse to use force.
Right to Defend Real or Personal Property (per Jury Instructions)
The owner [or possessor] of real or personal property may use reasonable force to protect that property from imminent harm.
*Reasonable force means the amount of force that a reasonable person in the same situation would believe is necessary to protect the property from imminent harm.
Recently, we have received questions about the use of deadly force in a self-defense scenario.
The use of force and the many laws and variations of law are subject to change either through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (state and federal), ballot initiatives, and other means. For current legal standing for your state, current research, and/or the consultation with an attorney is advisable.
This entry will cover those doctrines and a view of what the State of California has done when it comes to “Self Defense.”
Why California, because they have had some of the most controversial court cases as it pertains to a citizen using self-defense to protect themselves, others, or their property in the United States. Again, as mentioned, every state is different.
As it pertains to self-defense, there are three doctrines that states have adopted and incorporated, as a matter of law, to justify a citizen using lethal force.
We will focus on the doctrine that California courts view but briefly cover the makeup of all three doctrines.
Those self-defense doctrines are:
- Stand Your Ground
- Castle Doctrine
- Duty to Retreat
STAND YOUR GROUND
Under Stand Your Ground, a citizen has no duty to retreat from a situation before resorting to deadly force if deadly force is justifiable. It’s important to understand that Stand Your Ground doesn’t give a person the right to shoot first and ask questions later. What it does mean that a person doesn’t have to retreat.
Some states might require the threat of perceived harm to be objectively reasonable and that the force used is proportional to the threat. To be objectively reasonable, a person isn’t influenced by personal opinions or feelings. The facts surrounding the situation are without bias.
Some states may require a person, using self-defense, be at a location lawfully and not be the initial aggressor in the altercation.
As of 2020, twenty-six states have Stand Your Ground laws but with restrictions when it comes to the use of force in self-defense.
Those twenty-six states are:
- Alabama 2. Alaska 3. Florida 4. Georgia 5. Idaho 6. Indiana 7. Kansas 8. Kentucky 9. Louisiana 10. Michigan 11. Mississippi 12. Missouri 13. Montana 14. Nevada 15. New Hampshire 16. North Carolina 17. Oklahoma 18. Pennsylvania 19. South Carolina 20. South Dakota 21. Tennessee 22. Texas 23. Utah 24. West Virginia 25. Wyoming 26. Arizona
Under Castle Doctrine, a citizen has no duty to retreat before using deadly force if that citizen is in their home or yard (some states include the place of work and occupied vehicles). It doesn’t mean a citizen gets to do whatever they want in their home. What it does is establish legal protection for people who act in self-defense when there is a real basis for doing so.
The Castle Doctrine comes from Common Law. The Castle Doctrine is named for the axiom that a man’s home is his castle. The Castle doctrine also applies to apartments.
While the law defends a person to protect themselves in their home, there are limitations; for instance, a person cannot use deadly force in the case of mere trespassing.
The Castle Doctrine only applies in legitimate claims of self-defense.
As of 2020, twenty-three states have a Castle Doctrines with restrictions when it comes to the use of force in self-defense.
Those twenty-three states are:
- Arkansas 2. California 3. Colorado, 4. Connecticut 5. Delaware 6. Hawaii 7. Illinois 8. Iowa 9. Maine 10. Maryland 11. Massachusetts 12. Minnesota 13. Nebraska 14. New Jersey 15. New Mexico 16. New York 17. North Dakota 18. Ohio 19. Oregon 20. Rhode Island 21. Virginia 22. Washington, and 23. Wisconsin
THE DUTY TO RETREAT
In contrast to the Castle Doctrine is the “Duty To Retreat.” The general principle behind duty to retreat laws is that the use of force – lethal or otherwise – is not justified until a person has made a reasonable effort to avoid confrontation, either by de-escalation or an attempt to leave the area where the threat is occurring.
In other words, say a hypothetical mugger tries to rob a hypothetical man on the street, lawfully carrying a pistol in a concealed carry holster. Now, under the duty to retreat laws, the man accosted by the robber can’t necessarily draw and fire unless he has tried to either talk the robber down or flee the area.
The idea, in essence, is that a person has to have exhausted any other possibilities of concluding…whatever is happening…without resorting to violence. To use force, lethal or otherwise, under these laws requires a person to have no other choice but to fight. If you have the ability to flee, you can’t use force.
However, there is a significant difference between the castle doctrine and duty to retreat laws. Most notably is that duty to retreat laws are basically universal; they apply at home and at large. The castle doctrine only applies at home.
Next, duty to retreat laws imposes a larger burden on the judicious use of force. A person has to not only be presented with a reasonable threat to life and limb; they have to have actively tried to resolve the situation by other means up to and including fleeing the scene. Only when escape is not possible, and no other means to resolve the situation without violence can a person use force.
It should also be noted that those states that have duty to retreat laws almost universally allow that use of force is justified when retreat is not possible or would pose a danger in and of itself, so these laws are not unreasonable at face value; they only mandate that a person resorts to non-violent means of ending conflict before resorting to violent ones.
The “Stand Your Ground” laws that have been of much concern in recent years differ from the duty to retreat laws, in that use of force – even lethal force – is justifiable if a person is attacked outside the home. In other words, if attacked, you can fight back.
Some Castle Doctrine States Have A Duty To Retreat
As mentioned above, some castle doctrine states actually have a duty to retreat outside of the home.
Twelve states, in fact, impose the duty to retreat outside of the home but have a castle doctrine – by statute or decision – that covers defense of one’s self within the home. The following states have both:
- Maryland (excluding the city of Baltimore)
- New York
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
In the above states, the duty to retreat applies outside the home, but inside the home, the castle doctrine applies.
Background Checks - 1st and Last Chance
Why are background checks a company’s 1st and Last Chance? If done properly, a potential employer has the opportunity based on the totality of the gathered facts to decide if an applicant is a perfect fit.
If done properly, the potential employer gets the 1st opportunity to look into the candidate’s background. That background, if done correctly, is in-depth and provides the hiring manager a picture of who they are considering.
Historically, most companies don’t dig deep enough to know who they are hiring. In the 21st century, many companies will simply Google someone, check their social media, and draw a line on if the person is a “good guy” or “good woman.”
Unfortunately, the information on the web is as good as the information is vetted and if it’s inputted correctly.
Using a search such as Google or any other search engine available is the most time that is used by an employer to gauge if the candidate is right for the company.
A company compliant with the law and the experience to dig where digging for information is a company’s last chance before potential workplace dangers.
This FAQ entry will address some of those questions as it pertains to conducting a lawful and thorough background investigation.
A properly structured background screening program helps you to comply with federal and state regulations and meet the requirements of clients or business partners. Also, the risk of employee theft or fraud by screening for risk factors in an applicant’s background will help tremendously.
California has some of the most stringent laws as it pertains to the use of information in determining if a person could be hired based on data given to the employer by a third-party vendor. We will cover what is expected in California when a background check is conducted.
Every employer should consult with a human resource and labor lawyer regarding the laws in their respective states.
To begin, information used in background checks were as monitored, restricted, and regulated, starting in 1970.
In 1970 the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) became federal law that helps consumers understand what actions they can take concerning the information in their credit reports.
Information is gathered about consumers constantly. Also, the three major consumer credit bureaus-Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) plus other organizations can collect and use the consumers’ information. For example, banks and credit unions use the information to determine whether to approve a loan.
In some states, employers may check your credit report for hiring purposes, also depending on the state insurance companies may check credit to determine whether to offer coverage.
Under the FCRA, if information in your file has been used to deny an application for credit, insurance, or employment or take any other adverse action against you, the institution or employer must give you the name, address, and phone number of the agency that provided the information.
You have a right to know what is in your file and are entitled to free file disclosure if:
- A person has taken adverse action against you because of information in your credit report.
- You are the victim of identity theft and place a fraud alert in your file.
- Your file contains inaccurate information because of fraud
- You are on public assistance.
- You are unemployed but expect to apply for employment within 60 days.
Consumer reporting agencies must correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information with 30 days.
Consumer reporting agencies may not report outdated negative information. In most cases, a consumer reporting agency may not report negative information that is over seven years old or bankruptcies over ten years old.
A consumer’s rights and protections are extensive. A time to read and comprehend the law, both federal and state, is recommended. They should direct any questions regarding legality to an attorney that specializes in FCRA.
TO BE FCRA COMPLIANT
What Does the FCRA Require for Employers?
The FCRA has strict requirements for employers. Here are some requirements that are cited in lawsuits.
Stand-alone disclosure form. You need to provide the job applicant with a stand-alone disclosure form stating that you’re running a background check on them.
Consent form. The applicant also needs to provide written authorization through a stand-alone consent form of background screening. These forms require specific wording and formatting, so you should model them after the FCRA’s model forms. The timing of the employment screening should also comply with the Fair Chance Act if applicable in your state.
Adverse action notice. If you are thinking of not hiring someone based on the background check, you must send the applicant an adverse action notice before deciding. Then you need to give the applicant time to respond. If the applicant disputes the information, you need to take that into consideration.
Second adverse action notice. If you still decide not to hire the applicant after the response time, you need to send a second notice informing them of your decision.
What Does the FCRA Require for Background Check Companies?
The FCRA requires screening companies to follow all FCRA standards. One of these standards in ensuring their criminal background checks and credit background checks have the maximum accuracy possible. This requires them to verify any information they find. That means companies that claim to give “instant” background check results are not FCRA compliant.
Because FCRA lawsuits tend to name the employer’s company and the background check company in the suit, more background check companies are concerned about following FCRA standards. Reputable background check companies usually have FCRA compliance policies and procedures in place for all their background checks.
Use the right forms. The FCRA requires specific wording and formatting for their forms and disclosures. Use their model forms as an example and have a lawyer look over the forms before you give them to applicants.
Inform the applicant you are running a background check and get their consent. These need to be stand-alone forms with no other information on them.
Give the applicant a copy of the results. Allow them to dispute any false information.
If you’re thinking of making an adverse hiring decision, send the applicant a notice before you decide. Give them five or more days to respond or explain.
If you still settle on an adverse hiring decision, send them a second notice. You should include a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” and the name of your background check company.
California employment law is all about putting a candidate on an even playing field. Federal and state law has seen to that.
California is one of 35 states that have adopted a “Ban the Box” policy. The policy requires a job application to be void of the simple question, “Have You Been Convicted of a Felony.” The motivation behind eliminating that question on an application is to give everyone the opportunity at the beginning of the job process. It would allow a felony conviction to be revealed later in the hiring process. A felony arrest doesn’t necessarily disqualify a person for the job applied for.
The 35 states that have adopted statewide laws or policies are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
These policies and laws extend to the private and public sectors.
A consultation with a labor attorney is recommended because of the complexity of the laws surrounding the use of prior felony convictions or a pattern of arrests involving serious felonies.
A lot of states and counties have taken ban the box a step further and implemented Fair Chance policies.
13 states and 18 cities and counties have adopted Fair Chance policies benefit everyone, not just people with records.
The “Fair Chance” policies incorporate the best practices outlined in the 2012 United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance on the use of arrest and convictions records in employment decisions based under the consideration of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Background screening rules in California apply to all public and private sector employers with at least 5 employees, regardless of those employees’ work location.
Employers in California may only inquire into criminal history after making a conditional offer to the candidate.
Employers with at least 5 employees are prohibited from using criminal history in employment decisions if doing so would harm individuals, AND the employer cannot prove such use is job-related and consistent with business necessity OR the screening and hiring policy must be the absolute least discriminatory method for achieving the business need.
Employers are prohibited from considering the following criminal records: 1. An arrest or detention that did not result in a conviction 2. Referral to or participation in a pretrial or post-trial diversion program 3. A conviction that has been judicially dismissed or ordered sealed, expunged, or statutorily eradicated according to law. 4. Juvenile records 5. A non-felony conviction for possession of marijuana that is two or more years old.
In California, any felony conviction cannot be considered if more than 7 years old.
After the employer performs the individualized assessment and decide they are compliant with the law, and decide to not hire an applicant based on something in the background, the employer is required by law to hold open the job for five days, while providing the candidate an opportunity to dispute the accuracy of information during those five days.
A thorough background check can comprise up to forty areas covered so an employer can determine the suitability and eliminate liability exposure.
INCLUDED BUT NOT INCLUSIVE IN THE BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION
National criminal database
Social Security Number verification
National sex-offender registry
À la carte options to match your business needs
Form I-9 verification
Motor vehicle reports
Social media screening
MOST COMMON TYPES
The eleven most common background checks can be all-inclusive or separate in a report.
Those areas are 1. Employment 2. Criminal 3. Universal 4. OIG 5. E-Verify 6. Fingerprint 7. International 8. Credit 9. Personal 10. Professional Licenses 11. Social Media
Employment: An employment background check can include but is not limited to, a person’s work history, education, credit history, driving record, criminal record, medical history, use of social media, and drug screening. Subheadings in the employment background check can exceed forty.
Criminal: A criminal background check is often required in situations where a person or organization needs to know about major criminal activity, including violent or sex crimes, fraud, embezzlement, or felony convictions before deciding regarding employment, adoption, military enlistment, a firearm purchase, and more.
Universal: Though not relevant for employment background checks, we identify them as required to purchase a firearm. A person might not pass a gun background check if they had a felony conviction, certain criminal convictions, and misdemeanors, fugitives, or persons with open arrest warrants, domestic violence convictions, or in the country illegally.
OIG (Office of Inspector General-U.S. Department of Health and Human Services): Restricts individuals and entities that have committed a healthcare-related crime. Those criminal offenses convicted of Medicare or Medicaid fraud, Other offenses related to Medicare, Medicaid or State Children’s Health, Insurance Program fraud, Patient abuse or neglect, Felony convictions for other health-care related fraud, theft, or financial misconduct or Felony convictions related to controlled substances.
E-Verify: Used by employers to verify the identity and employment eligibility of newly hired employees
Fingerprint: It’s mandatory for government-run institutions and by vendors who contract with government agencies. A summary can include information related to a person’s criminal history, federal employment, naturalization, and military service.
International: Used when someone recently lived, worked, or studied in an unfamiliar country.
Credit: A credit background check is a record of a person’s credit-to-debt ratio and shows how someone has managed credit and bill payments in the past. A credit report includes; payment history, a civil judgment, tax liens, bankruptcies, unpaid bills in collection, and recent credit inquiries.
Personal: If you’re interested in seeing what employers see when they run your background check, a personal background check can do that for you. Depending on the service provider, you can choose which checks or searches you want to perform, and which ones you don’t need.
For example, you can run a personal background check to see if your name appears in any criminal, traffic, or sex offender databases. You can also do an SSN trace to see where you’ve lived and worked, and to see a copy of your own credit report.
Finding out what shows up on your background check is a great way to address potential errors you find. It’s common to find mistakes in public information databases. If you discover and address potential errors before an employer or creditor sees them, you could save yourself from missing out on an opportunity to get a job or borrow money.
Professional License: A professional license background check, or an education verification check, verifies that the applicant does indeed possess a valid license as claimed. This is an important step in helping to protect the employer from negligent hiring claims.
Certain industries rely on professional licenses to ensure that people working in that industry have the experience, knowledge, and credentials required to perform the job.
For professional license background checks, background screening companies typically contact the applicable industry or state licensing board to verify that the license is held and hasn’t lapsed or expired, that the license is in good standing, and that there are no restrictions or violations associated with the license.
Industries that require a professional license background check include:
The financial services industry, including financial planning, real estate, accounting, banking, and insurance
Home contractors, including plumbers, builders, and electricians
Education, including teachers, professors, and administrators
Background checks are an essential part of the verification process to ensure an applicant or employee fulfills the requirements for the job.
Companies can reduce the risk of employee theft or fraud by screening for risk factors in an applicant’s background while reducing turnover and maintain compliance
A background check does the following:
- It Highlights Criminal History
- It Avoids Liability
- It Ensures Workplace Safety
- Job Competence is Important
- Increase new hire quality
- Avoids negative publicity
- Creates a more complete picture of a person’s suitability for a given role.
- Upholds drug-free workplace standards
Threat Management: Workplace Violence
Over the years, the definition of Workplace Violence has evolved from the worker on worker and/or worker on management types of incidents that are spotlighted during any year.
The definition as of recent history is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or any type of threatening or disruptive behavior(s) that occur at the worksite.
By the proper updated and modern definition, Workplace Violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or any type of threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the worksite.
Workplace Violence incidents have ranged from simple theft, robbery, or terrorist act.
In this FAQ, we will focus on what a lot of the psychologists and psychiatrists call traditional workplace violence. Which is the worker on worker and/or worker on management incidents that take place in businesses across the United States in most times small scales, but unfortunately, there have been incidents where large scale injury and/or death have resulted.
The worker on worker type of incident is attached to behaviors by current or past employees. The motivating factor is many times interpersonal, could be work-related conflicts, or losses and traumas.
Managers and supervisors are the groups at the highest risk.
The scenarios that lead up to the violence could appear obvious in hindsight, but not every situation is typical. As the imagination could draw on dozens of sequence of events that lead up to the act of violence.
We will focus on the type of violence that involved fatal injury. The types of assaults included: 1. Intentional shooting by another person 2. Stabbing, cutting, slashing, or piercing 3. Hitting, kicking, beating, or shoving 4. Strangulation by another person 5. Multiple violent acts by other persons.
Statistically fatalities from 2011 to 2018 were: 2011-450, 2012-461, 2013-393, 2014-395, 2015-411, 2016-441 and 2018-439.
In regards to Workplace Violence, having the police involved at the onset is always the best, if possible. Many times, the police will arrive at the scene, take a report because there were only verbal threats. They will take the report to document what happened that day and pass it along to detectives. That service isn’t always the most comforting.
Employers must decide how seriously they are going to take the disgruntled and highly agitated employee, and if they are going to be proactive, not waiting until something serious happens.
All Workplace Violence cases involving worker on worker start before the employee is hired by the company.
In recent history, a client called The Michael Agency because of the recent firing of an employee that communicated very disturbing and direct threats directed at management for terminating him and at the company in general. The question was asked if there were any indicators that the terminated employee had a history of violence. They didn’t see any and didn’t conduct a pre-employment background check, but if they did, they would have found that the terminated employee was convicted in two separate states of aggravated assaults of police officers. On one occasion, the terminated employee spent four years in prison for one of the assaults on a police officer.
At the time of the termination, the ex-employee stated, “You haven’t seen the last of me. I’m coming back, and all of you will regret firing me!”
Coupled with the communicated threats and finding multiple acts of violence in an exceptionally long criminal history, it was determined to conduct a surveillance of the ex-employee. The surveillance served a dual purpose, i.e., to protect the business and employees from any type of violent assault and determine if the employee was stalking the company or any employee. Very quickly, it was determined that the ex-employee had gone to an executive’s home and parked down the street and watched the activity at the executive’s home. The ex-employee repeated this behavior toward another company executive. The stalking behavior was observed over several hours in a week and a half period.
The ex-employee also went to the business and tried to enter the company’s secured floor under false pretensions using an alias.
Every over act displayed by the ex-employee was documented, and The Michael Agency management was in contact with the client’s attorney daily. The purpose was to brief and summarize entries for an affidavit to submit to a court for a Temporary Restraining Order. At the ex-employee’s termination meeting, he was advised that he couldn’t return to company property.
One day early, the ex-employee left his home carrying a small athletic bag and drove to one of the executive’s homes. He displayed the same stalking behavior, and that continued until the executive left for work.
Investigators noticed overly aggressive behavior once the ex-employee arrived in the vicinity of the executive’s home. The aggressive behavior continued as the ex-employee attempted to enter a parking structure connected to the executive’s company, which was located in a high-rise building.
As the ex-employee exited his vehicle, investigators saw a handgun protruding from the small of his back. Investigators believed on the totality of the circumstances, the ex-employee was going to his former employer’s business to cause bodily injury or death to the employees. Investigators detained the ex-employee and recovered a fully loaded semi-automatic pistol that contained a fifteen-round magazine of live ammunition and a fifteen-round magazine of live ammunition in a back pocket.
The police arrived and took the ex-employee into custody and booked him into jail, where he remained under “No Bail.”
After a trial, the ex-employee was convicted on multiple counts and sentenced to prison for 10 years.
The employer made an excellent decision to place the ex-employee under surveillance. Having experienced and former police detectives following the ex-employee, they had deep experience observing the stalking behavior.
The day the ex-employee decided to go to his former employer and kill everyone was a critical point. Fortunately, he was being followed by investigators with decades of surveillance experience, plus they were licensed to carry concealed firearms.
The investigators’ calm demeanor and experience quickly deescalated the situation before anyone was hurt.
The Michael Agency worked closely with the police and prosecutors from the district attorney’s office so a successful prosecution could happen.
Not all Workplace Violence cases involving a set of facts are as dangerous.
Employers are taking all Workplace Violence incidents very seriously. They are conducting internal investigations either through their human resource personnel, or they consult with experts who assist with the investigation and then give a variety of follow-up options. Additionally, companies are hiring firms that can complete thorough investigations.
It is the policy of The Michael Agency, and it’s one policy that benefits their clients: Get the police involved at the onset. Have them arrest the suspect if at all possible. If the police won’t make an arrest initially, then the goal is to keep an open line of communication during an investigation.
If investigators are investigating, and there are clear overt acts of a crime, law enforcement is contacted, and a meeting is set to provide the necessary documents that will lead to arrest and prosecution.
At the onset of the ex-employee’s termination, the most the police could have done is take a report for “Terrorist Threats.” Many times, the prosecutors will refer those types of cases with no initial follow up or act to cause violence for counseling and program attendance. The cases are filed as a misdemeanor if there is no injury.
Employers hire an investigative firm that believes in the involvement of law enforcement at all stages of the investigation.
Retain a consultant that has the years of experience and resources to guide your investigation to a successful conclusion.
Make sure your consultant provides a menu of options that are cost-effective to bring closure as soon as possible.
Most important, hire a consultant that considers you a partner in the process. Someone who makes themselves available not only during business hours but at those odd hours. An excellent consultant will educate you on the process as the investigation progresses. They won’t leave you in the dark. They should explain why they are doing something and what kind of result they hope to achieve.
Stay Safe, Stay Current, and Informed,
The Michael Agency
Choosing an Investigator
In this FAQ, we will discuss what you need to consider when you retain an investigator.
Time is Money: It’s three little words, but they are important when you retain an investigator. You want someone mindful of their time and, depending on the circumstances, solve the matter quickly.
Investigative Experience: Preferably, if at all possible, your investigator should have been a career detective with a major metropolitan police department, because of the caseload and need to be multi-faceted in the approach to investigating any matter. Having been a career detective, they should have worked assignments where they only investigated cases of complexity to include serialized crimes of frauds, thefts, homicide, sexual assaults, robbery, or burglary. Someone with experience investigating large scale narcotics trafficking is an asset because of the complexity involved in those investigations.
Skills: Your investigator should have skills such as;
4. Outstanding Writing Skills.
5. Critical Thinking
9. Communication Skills
10. Street Smarts
12. Strong working knowledge of the law
13. Strong law enforcement contacts-local, State, Federal and international
14. Strong relationships with judges and prosecutors
15. Ethical Behavior
16. Strong Interview Skills
20. Strong Research Skills,
22. Attention to Detail
23. Conflict Resolution
Emotional Intelligence: Your investigator must have the knowledge to recognize their own emotions and those of others and discern between different feelings, and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior. Manage and, if necessary, adjust emotions to adapt environments to achieve the goals of the investigation.
Resources: Your investigator and his firm must have access to confidential resources and subscribe to the State-of-the-Art investigative databases.
They must have close working relationships with attorneys, police, and prosecutors. The leadership to guide the process, so it’s successful for the client. Lacking those investigative tools will bring failure, and that is not acceptable.
Accessibility: When an investigator and their firm agree to help, they have you as a client for life. They need to be available long after the last invoice was paid. That is mandatory. The firms that charge for consultation aren’t in business to help people.
Confidentiality: This would be expected, but it does not always happen. The horror stories about how pieces of an investigation were leaked to a news source, tabloid, or a person that knows the client and has an agenda are horrifying but true.
A non-disclosure agreement is a document recommended to be used when engaging in a contractual agreement with an investigator and/or investigative firm. Make sure that the non-disclosure agreement identifies the information is not to be distributed, copied, or given freely to anyone other than a person or persons designated by you specifically.
Every investigator should have sufficient security protocols protecting their work product.
When you shop for an investigator please do your homework. A referral from someone that had a similar situation and used an investigator is great, but still ask those tough questions.
Time is Money and you should not have it wasted hiring someone that doesn’t have the skills, resources, or experience.
Best of Luck,
The Michael Agency