Category Archives: Private Investigations

Ask an Expert: All About Private Investigation

I just want to thank Lifehacker for inviting me to their Ask an Expert Q & A regarding private investigators. I also want to thank the people who participated in the chat session. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

To read the transcript of the chat session, please head to Lifehacker

 
Regards,

Steven Santarpia

Private Investigator Steven Santarpia On Lifehacker’s-Spy Week 11/12/12

Every Monday, Lifehacker brings in an expert for an hour to answer questions via chat. Next Monday, November 12, 2012 at 3pm, Lifehacker will be kicking off “Spy Week,” dedicated to all things James Bond and mystery.  ICORP Investigations Vice President, Steven Santarpia, will be joining Lifehacker to answer your questions pertaining to private investigations. Licensed Private Investigator Steven Santarpia has been a private detective for over 10 years and has worked many different types of investigations including infidelity/cheating spouse,  industrial espionage, skip tracing and insurance claims.

More information to come including the link to join the chat session on Monday. To view past chats, visit Lifehacker.com.

For more information regarding ICORP Investigations, please visit their website.

ICORP Investigations
245 Park Ave, 24th Floor
New York, NY 10167
(212) 572-4823

Private Investigators New York – Surveillance Specialists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Private Investigators in NY specializing in surveillance investigations. Investigations include cheating spouse/infidelity, family law and insurance investigations. All surveillance video shot in crystal clear High Definition video. Also, our clients can view their surveillance video the very next day from our case management system. With so much riding on your investigation, why settle for anything less. Find out why we are an leader in the private investigation industry.

ICORP Investigations is licensed in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Colorado, Maryland and Florida.

Please visit our NYC Website. 

Long Beach managed care firm under Civil, Criminal Investigation

A Long Beach-based health plan seeking new contracts to serve 54,000 Southern California low-income seniors has set aside $125 million to resolve claims by state and federal authorities that it overbilled Medi-Cal and Medicare.

In applications submitted in February to California’s Medi-Cal agency, the SCAN Health Plan detailed the course of civil and criminal investigations by the California attorney general’s office, saying they could lead to “substantial financial payments.” Federal authorities from the Health and Human Services and Justice departments also are investigating, the reports say.

Investigators are examining whether SCAN drew funds from both health care programs to care for the same pool of patients and intentionally hid the matter from overseers. At worst, the cases could conclude with the company banned from serving Medi-Cal or Medicare patients, the document says.

SCAN submitted applications to serve 36,000 seniors in Los Angeles County, 8,000 in San Diego County and 5,000 each in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Medi-Cal is reviewing multiple bids from firms willing to work in each of those counties to coordinate care for patients, mostly seniors with low incomes, who receive both Medi-Cal and Medicare coverage.

Currently, the SCAN Health Plan, founded in 1977, runs a Medicare Advantage plan serving 130,000 people in California and Arizona. The firm says its members report very high satisfaction rates, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently awarded it 4 out of a possible 5 stars for its work in California.

California Watch reported in August that SCAN was under investigation after state Controller John Chiang audited the plan and said it “fleeced the state” out of a possible $339 million. In a financial evaluation [PDF], Medi-Cal confirmed that the health plan drew profit margins of 80 percent or more, in contrast to rates of 4 to 5 percent earned by similar plans.

The Medi-Cal Fraud Control Unit described the case in an annual report to federal funders, saying it involves “double billing.”

“It is alleged that SCAN intentionally withheld relevant cost report information from the government to hide the enormous profits SCAN was making,” the April 2011 report says.

The case “has the potential for obtaining one of the largest” financial recoveries as a result of a false-claims lawsuit by the attorney general’s Medi-Cal Fraud Control Unit, the report says. The attorney general’s office declined to comment further.

In a statement, SCAN spokesman Alan Maltun said: “Substantial progress has been made in working through these issues with the State and Federal governments, and we believe we will be able to resolve their concerns in a manner that is fair to all parties.”

SCAN disclosed to Medi-Cal authorities in February that it received a subpoena for documents in March 2010 from the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general’s office, which reports to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The company learned that the state attorney general’s Medi-Cal fraud team also was conducting civil and criminal investigations of payments to the company from 2001 to 2009.

The disclosure says SCAN learned that federal authorities also are examining whether it earned excess payments by submitting improper ratings that describe how sick members are. Medicare Advantage plans, like SCAN, are paid a per-patient rate that is based on the plan’s severity-of-illness ratings.

SCAN said that when its board of directors learned of the allegations, it appointed a special committee to lead an internal investigation. The report says the group “has not received any evidence suggesting intentional misconduct” by anyone at the company.

The company says it offered to pay $125 million to resolve claims, but government authorities said a counteroffer would be forthcoming. SCAN concluded that it “cannot predict whether or when a settlement will occur or whether criminal or civil court proceedings might be initiated.”

In applying to serve additional seniors, SCAN said its mission is to find “innovative ways to enhance our members’ ability to manage their health and control where and how they live.”

The managed care company says 98 percent of its “nursing facility level of care” seniors in California are able to live at home, rather than in institutions. It said its members’ rate of readmissions into hospitals is 24 percent lower than expected.

SCAN said that in 2011, 97 percent of its “dual eligible” – or Medi-Cal and Medicare-qualified – members were satisfied with the company.

The state Department of Health Care Services is reviewing applications from firms bidding to provide managed care services to seniors who tend to have many chronic conditions and receive care from a variety of providers.

The state is seeking to improve care and save money by giving care providers incentives to focus on healthy living and proactive management of chronic conditions. The move is meant to part ways with a system in which health providers are paid a premium for giving emergency care and performing invasive procedures.

Private Investigator Bill Raises Some Concerns

Private investigator bill raises some concerns.

By Michael McFall

Standard-Examiner staff

Mon, 03/26/2012 – 6:22am

SALT LAKE CITY — Lt. Lee Perry of the Utah Highway Patrol has reservations about Senate Bill 210 that gives new powers to private investigators.

The bill passed the Legislature but has yet to be signed by Gov. Gary Herbert. SB 210 would allow private agencies such as law firms and real estate companies to hire private investigators to serve all civil processes, including vacate and eviction notices, bench warrants, summonses and subpoenas. These are responsibilities that are now done by constables or law enforcement officers.

“They’re not trained in the same way as officers,” said Perry, who is also a state representative from Box Elder County and voted against the bill.

Many private investigators are former officers who know how to handle those situations, but under current state law, anyone who wants to be an investigator doesn’t have to take police training, “and that’s the hang-up,” Perry said.

Perry wonders what happens when people who don’t understand the recipient’s basic constitutional rights act inappropriately. If a resident or the investigators end up having to call law enforcement to assist in the situation, he questions what the bill really accomplishes.

The bill faced stiff opposition in the Senate, but passed 16-12 after sponsor Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, added that the investigators cannot make arrests when serving a bench warrant.

Rep. Lowry Snow, R-St. George, sponsored the bill in the House and made sure to include a provision that investigators cannot use any force or breach the peace in performing these duties.

“It is true that (private investigators) have not been through the same training that a police officer will go through or a constable,” Snow said. “But they are regulated by the state Department of Professional Licensing and must adhere to the rules and regulations of that agency.”

In the House, Perry added a requirement that the investigators have to identify themselves and state that they’re acting as process servers, carry visible credentials and provide their contact information.

He also changed the bill so that if a sheriff’s office receives a credible complaint about an investigator, the department can ban him or her from performing those duties in that county ever again.

“I tried to give as much protection as I possibly could,” Perry said.

The final version passed the House on the last night of the session by a 38-36 vote.

One local private investigator shares Perry’s concerns about the possible law.

Jeff Nelson, who has been a private investigator in North Salt Lake for almost 35 years, said the bill does not make much sense to him. He’s been involved in at least 2,000 criminal cases and worries for the investigator’s safety while serving warrants. Sometimes “you run into someone who is a bad guy,” he said.

It’s better to send someone into these situations who is more qualified, he said.

If the governor signs SB 210, Perry plans to work with Rep. Curtis Oda, R-Clearfield, over the coming months on a new bill that would further clarify what the investigators can and cannot do.

Classes Challenge Internet ‘Investigators’

By JOE HARRIS

CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) – In two class actions on the frontier of Internet law, people claim that Intelius and Digimedia dba Peoplefinder work as private investigators in Missouri without state certification.
Intelius, based in Bellevue, Wash., offers its services through its website intelious.com.
Named plaintiff Michael Brown claims Intelius says its investigations can get information about crimes threatened or committed against the United States; the identity, credibility, habits, business, integrity, credibility, trustworthiness, loyalty, movements, affiliations, and reputation of certain individuals; and information on a person’s address, phone number history, social media history, criminal record, family and financial history.
Brown says Intelius is working as a private investigator without a license.
In the second class action, filed by the same law firm, lead plaintiff Thuy Nguyen makes the same accusation against Digimedia.com dba Peoplefinder.com
“At no pertinent time has defendant ever held a license [to] engage in private investigator business in the State of Missouri, nor has it ever held a license to engage in business in the State of Missouri as a private investigator agency,” Brown says in his complaint in St. Louis County Court. “Moreover, defendant has never applied for any such licenses.
“At no pertinent time have any of defendant’s employees ever been licensed pursuant to RMSo § 324.1104 to engage in private investigator business in the state of Missouri.
“At all pertinent times, defendant’s failure to hold the license(s) … was information that a reasonable consumer would consider important in deciding whether to hire defendant for the purpose of having the defendant or its employees engage in private investigator business.”
The class consists of all Missourians who have bought private investigations from Feb. 1, 2010 to final judgment. The law requiring such a license was passed in 2007, but Brown’s attorney, Michael Kruse, said the state finally got the mechanisms to enforce the law on Feb. 1, 2010.
“We were concerned with the value customers are getting in light of the licensing statue,” Kruse told Courthouse News.
“They have a right to comply with the law. There is a reason why the state of Missouri felt it needed such controls and companies can’t be above the law through their business model using the Internet.”
The classes seek an injunction, rescission of contracts, restitution and actual and punitive damages for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation by omission, and violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.
Kruse practices for the law firm Onder, Shelton, O’Leary & Peterson in St. Louis.
Kruse filed the nearly identical class action against Digimedia.com dba Peoplefinder.com.
Kruse said he does not expect his firm to file any more class actions against private investigation companies.
“We were looking at several different companies and those two were the most major violators,” Kruse said. 

Courthouse News Service

iPhone Video Timestamp App For Private Investigators

by Steven Santarpia
ICORP Investigations 

It’s finally here! An app for private investigators to take video on their IPhone with a timestamp. It’s called VideoTimeStamp made by Contraptionz. The cost is $29.99. You can record video at 640×480 or 960×640 resolution, with a time and/or date stamp burned in! IOS 5.0 required.I’ve been using the app for a month and I definitely give it my seal of approval. My private investigators at ICORP Investigations also seem to like the app. I think it works well for claims investigations. For instance, I followed a claimant into a Home Depot not too long ago. I  approached the claimant while I made like I was texting someone on my iPhone. The claimant had no idea I was filming him. That of course, is what its all about.

You can hold your iPhone vertically and horizontally  to take video, which is a great feature. When holding it vertically, you can make like you are texting someone and video the target. When holding it horizontally, you can hold the iPhone down by your side to video while walking. Another great feature the VideoTimeStamp app has is you can tap the iPhone screen twice to make the screen go dark. Thus, your iPhone looks like its inactive. For domestic investigations like a cheating spouse case, this app can also be helpful when trying to obtain hidden video.

Maybe the best aspect of this app is you’ll have your iPhone with you all the time. The investigator no longer has to carry another device to obtain hidden video. Plus, the quality of video and the reliability of the hidden cams most insurance investigators use to obtain hidden video make this app a very welcoming addition to our bag of tricks.

Feds Dismantle NYC Auto Insurance Fraud Ring

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: February 29, 2012 at 8:40 PM ET

NEW YORK (AP) — A cadre of corrupt doctors and scam artists sought to cheat auto insurance companies out of $279 million in bogus medical claims — the largest-ever fraud involving New York’s no-fault law, authorities said Wednesday.

The investigation resulted in federal racketeering, health care fraud, mail fraud and money laundering charges against 36 people, mainly of Russian descent. They include 10 physicians and three lawyers. One had the nickname “KGB.”

At a news conference, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said while the false claims totaled $279 million, the actual loss to private insurers was $113 million. Some of the ill-gotten gains were spent on vacations in Mexico, shopping sprees at Saks Fifth Avenue and rides in limousines, he said.

The charges “expose a colossal criminal trifecta, as the fraud’s tentacles simultaneously reached into the medical system, the legal system and the insurance system, pulling out cash to fund the defendants’ lavish lifestyles,” he said.

Since 2007, the ring operated a chain of medical clinics in Brooklyn and the Bronx that systematically exploited the state’s no-fault insurance law, authorities said. The law allows car accident victims to get up to $50,000 in benefits per person, no matter who was at fault.

The fraud relied on ambulance chasers — called “runners” — to convince real victims of car accidents to seek unnecessary care at the corrupt clinics in exchange for kickbacks of up to $3,000 per patient, authorities said.

Doctors would prescribe physical therapy, acupuncture and other treatments to every patient no matter what their condition, sometimes five times a week. Authorities allege the clinics also referred people to lawyers who filed baseless personal injury lawsuits.

“The accidents were real but the claims were not,” said Janice Fedarcyk, head of the FBI’s New York office.

The probe relied in part on two New York Police Department undercover investigators posing as accident victims. The clinics gave them neck and back braces even though it was clear they had no injuries, authorities said.

On visits to a chiropractor, all the officers were expected to do was “sign in, say hello and leave,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

The defendants also are accused of laundering proceeds from the bogus billing through cash-checking outlets and shell companies. Many of them face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges.

Prosecutors declined to identify specific insurance companies.

Claims Investigators Walkie-Talkie App

Claims investigators have a new tool when working out in the field. Voxer is a Walkie Talkie application for smartphones. It lets you send instant audio, text, photo and location messages to one or a group of friends/investigators. This is an application that all private investigators should have on their smartphones. Speaking from personal experience, the micro talk walkie talkie radio’s out there on the market (Midland, Cobra in particular) were ok at best. The 5-10 mile radius that they claimed to cover was more like three city blocks. Also, investigators would often speak over each other on the radio often causing confusion during an investigation. No longer will I have to hear, “Do you have extra batteries? Mine are dead.” I think Voxer has some promise and is already better than any micro talk walkie talkie i’ve ever used for surveillance. There is a short lag time which should improve with time. The message contains location data from the sender which will help when no street signs or markers are near. The application has not drained my Iphone battery and is incredibly easy to use. Now if only there was an application to magically write professional reports.

Phone hacking: Cherie Blair to sue News International

Tony Blair’s wife to take action against Glenn Mulcaire and NI over the alleged hacking of her phone by News of the World

Cherie Blair, the wife of the former prime minister, is suing News International and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire over the alleged hacking of her phone by the News of the World.

Blair’s lawyer, Graham Atkins, said on Wednesday he had issued a claim against Mulcaire and News Group Newspapers, the News International subsidiary that published the now defunct News of the World, “in relation to the unlawful interception of her voicemails”.

Blair was at the heart of the British government for 10 years – from May 1997 to June 2007 – as the wife of the former prime minister, Tony Blair. It is not known when Cherie Blair is alleged to have been targeted.

The fresh legal action comes as Rupert Murdoch‘s UK newspaper group attempts to settle a mounting number of civil claims over alleged voicemail interception by the News of the World, which closed in July 2011.

News International declined to comment.

Mulcaire’s lawyer said she was not yet aware of the legal action.

A statement from Atkins, Cherie Blair’s lawyer, said: “I can confirm that we have issued a claim on behalf of Cherie Blair in relation to the unlawful interception of her voicemails.

“I will not be commenting any further at this time.”

News International settled 37 civil actions in January – including high-profile actions brought by the actor Jude Law and the son of serial killer Harold Shipman – in a bid to prevent them from going to trial, and paid out to another 21 victims of phone hacking earlier this month.

The publisher is also attempting to reach a settlement with the singer Charlotte Church, whose legal action will proceed to a full trial at the high court on Monday unless it is settled beforehand.

However, News International faces at least 50 fresh civil actions, with figures including footballer Peter Crouch, singer James Blunt and Ukip leader Nigel Farage having already filed claims and others being prepared.

The news of Blair’s legal action comes at an embarrassing time for Rupert Murdoch, who arrived in London last week to lift the spirits of his newspaper group.

Alastair Campbell, the former No 10 communications director, told the Leveson inquiry in November that he believed it was “possible” thatsome stories about the Blairs were obtained by phone hacking.

Campbell admitted he had no evidence for the claim, but said in his witness statement: “I do not know if her [Carole Caplin’s] phone was hacked, or if Cherie’s was, but knowing what we do now about hacking and the extent of it, I think it is at least possible this is how the stories got out.

“They often involved details of where Cherie was going, the kind of thing routinely discussed on phones when planning visits, private as well as public.”

Caplin, former lifestyle guru to Blair, said in November that she had been told by Scotland Yard that her name appears on a list of victims targeted by Mulcaire.

Separately, the former deputy prime minister in Blair’s government, John Prescott, said in a tweet on Wednesday that he was due to give evidence to the Leveson inquiry on Monday.

The inquiry into press standards is due to begin hearing evidence on the relationship between the press and police from next week. However, some witnesses will appear to give testimony from the previous module on the press and public.

Tom Watson, the Labour MP who has been one of the most vocal critics of News International over phone hacking, said the legal action was a “very significant” development.

“Just when the hacking scandal was disappearing from view we now know that Rupert Murdoch’s hackers targeted family members of a sitting prime minister,” he told MediaGuardian.

“The lesson for all politicians, including David Cameron, is that Rupert Murdoch is only a fair-weather friend. I trust that Tony Blair will condemn Murdoch’s failure to deal with long-term criminal wrongdoing at News International.”

He added: “I hope that the replacement to the News of the World – the newly titled Sun on Sunday – will take the opportunity to apologise to all the people who suffered illegal invasions of privacy at the hands of the hackers and they come clean about other forms of illicit surveillance.”

• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email editor@mediaguardian.co.uk or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly “for publication”.

Guardian

%d bloggers like this: