Monday, May 15, 2017

Do You Need a Private Investigator for a Child Custody Issue?



When there is an issue of child custody and visitation, many parents want to ensure the child is safe when they are on their visits with the other parent. For some it’s a legal issue. Maybe there is a drug or alcohol issue. Maybe it’s that there are people in the home that shouldn’t be. There could be concerns about proper supervision. Really, the list could go on why people hire private investigators for a child custody case.

When it comes to child custody cases, Mission Possible Investigation is well-equipped to handle these cases and have 10 years of doing so and testifying in court to round out our expertise. What’s important to consider when hiring a private investigator for a child custody case? An investigator should be experienced in interviews and mobile and stationary surveillance, well-versed in child welfare issues and local laws, and a good representative to testify in court. 

Many private investigators that routinely take child custody cases, and this is true of Mission Possible Investigations, do not readily accept every case that comes in. They often have to turn down work because the potential client is simply not credible or does not have the right to access the information about the child. There are times too when the potential client will ask for information the private investigator cannot obtain legally. These are situations when a private investigator does what is ultimately best for the client and the child.

Child custody cases are notoriously messy and complicated. The private investigator’s job is always to find and document the facts. Assumptions, speculation, and the investigator’s own parenting bias should not play a role in the outcome and recommendations from the investigation. Make sure when you are choosing an investigator you are seeking someone fair and impartial and not someone who is easily swayed by unsubstantiated facts. It may not seem fair to the client that the investigator remains unbiased, but in the long run, especially if the case goes to court, it’s critical to the outcome of the investigation.

If you are unsure if your suspicions warrant a child custody investigation, the following is a list of common scenarios and considerations Mission Possible Investigation has investigated:
  • The overall safety and welfare of the child is in question.
  • There is new person in the home that is questionable. These cases often require the investigator to confirm if in fact the subject is living with someone and what if any criminal background or allegations have been brought against this person.
  • The custodial parent may not be living with someone new but is leaving the child unattended with someone they shouldn’t or bringing the child into unsafe environments.
  • There are issues with drugs or alcohol. The custodial parent may be using drugs or alcohol around the child or leaving the child with babysitters while they go out to bars or parties. The occasional use of a babysitter is common and usually acceptable in most cases unless otherwise stipulated in the custody terms.
  • Also common is when a custodial parent is utilizing babysitters frequently and it has not been approved in the custody arrangement. Either the sitters are somehow inappropriate choices or the length of time the child is left brings into question why the custodial parent has primary custody in the first place.
Leaving the child unattended without a sitter is also a common concern when a client is calling regarding a child custody case. Most states do not stipulate how old a child must be before they are left alone. It is usually taken on a case per case basis and how mature the child is and their ability to meet their basic needs and general safety while alone.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What to Do After a Sexual Assault



After a trauma like a sexual assault many women and men are unsure of what to do. Do they report to the police? Should they seek medical attention? The moments, hours, and even days right after, people can experience shock, confusion, and uncertainty along with a whole range of other emotions.

Safety – First, and foremost, seek safety. If you are in immediate danger or seriously injured, call 911. If you’re not feeling safe even inside your own home, call a friend or hotline for support. Know that what happened is not your fault and this isn’t something you have to go through alone.  

Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673). You’ll be connected to a trained staff member from a local sexual assault service provider in your area. They can also direct you to the appropriate local health facility that cares for survivors of sexual assault.

Save any evidence that might have the attacker’s DNA on it. Even if you don’t know if you want to go to the police, before you shower or use the bathroom, you should go to the hospital for a medical exam and for them to collect evidence. Better to have the evidence than not if you change your mind about going to the police later. The first inclination after an assault is to want to shower – but don’t. Don’t clean any part of your body before you go to the hospital for an exam. Don’t even change clothes, if possible. Also, don't touch or change anything at the scene of the assault. That way the local police will have physical evidence from the person who assaulted you.

Hospital/ E.R – Even if evidence collection is the furthest thing from your mind – you still need to make sure you are physically okay. The hospital can also provide you medicine to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy. At the hospital ask for a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) or sometimes called a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE). These are medical personnel specially trained to collect evidence for a rape kit and to work with victims of sexual assault. You do not have to decide whether to press charges while at the hospital. They might also offer a sexual assault advocate to be there with you at the hospital – you can decide if that’s something you want or not but they are trained in helping survivors of sexual assault and have a wealth of resources available to them.

Law Enforcement – Some victims may want to talk to the police while others do not. It’s your right to choose to move forward legally or not. But never let anyone pressure you to keep quiet or convince you that you won’t be believed. If a sexual assault happens on campus or within a work setting and you are told you don’t need to go to law enforcement because there will be an internal investigation – go to the police anyway. You have a right to seek the authorities given a crime has been committed. Not all, but many institutions are far more concerned about their liability than what’s best for the victim of a crime.

Seek Support – Whether it’s through your best friend or at a sexual assault program or through a private therapist or support group, a survivor of sexual assault has a journey of recovery in front of them and support is usually needed and very beneficial.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Mission Possible Investigations Celebrates 10 Years in Business After Brave Launch During Economic Downturn

By all accounts, 2007 wasn’t the year to launch a fledgling private investigation firm, but owner Jamie Richardson defied the odds with 10 years of business success.
Albany, New York – Private investigation firm, Mission Possible Investigations, will hit their 10 years in business milestone in 2017. Jamie Richardson, founder and CEO, started the business on an almost bare budget right at the start of the economic downturn. Most thought the business wouldn’t succeed, but not only is Richardson still in operation, he’s seen continued business growth and expanded his work gaining his private investigation license in New York and Arkansas, a state where he went to school and started his career.

Richardson was a United States Marine and has worked in quality assurance investigations in a program that served people with developmental disabilities as well as was a State of Florida Adult Protective Services investigator early in his career. Richardson is not like most who come to the private investigation industry. Many private investigators are retired law enforcement who start their business at the end of their careers. Richardson launched his business at the start of his thirties and found he had a great advantage when it came to blending into his surroundings during surveillance, taking witness statements, and doing undercover work. Plus, he was accustomed to quickly learning new technology, which is paramount in the industry.

Richardson credits his success to sheer determination, being technologically savvy, and building strong relationships with his client base, especially local attorneys. That’s one of the reasons he’s kept his business operation small and has no desire to become one of the big multi-state corporate private investigations firms that sub-contracts out to investigators in various states. It’s just not his business model. Richardson does the majority of the work himself, and will when needed, utilize a handful of trusted, experienced investigators that he’s connected with through his time in the industry.
“There is something very personal in the work that I do, and it’s important to me that I maintain client relationships and ensure the quality of our investigations,” says Richardson. “When clients call the office for a free consultation, I’m the one who answers the phone. From the first point of contact to testifying in court, I want my clients to know I’m there every step of the way. “

Mission Possible Investigations is a full-service firm handling all kinds of investigations. From criminal defense to cheating partners and child custody, Richardson’s work is as varied as the clients who hire him. He has been hired by Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, nonprofits, and a number of private clients from all backgrounds. Richardson has also been involved in a number of missing persons cases as well as cases to find birth families. More recently, he has even been hired to investigate catfishing cases. Richardson is highly-skilled at conducting both stationary and mobile surveillance and more than one client has commented on the quality of his video and photography. Photography has always been something of a hobby for Richardson so he’s invested quite a bit into the equipment he uses.

Richardson has been interviewed for a number of the industry’s podcasts and stories in media outlets including a short reoccurring guest spot on the “Mulrooney in the Morning” radio show on 104.9 FM in Albany, New York. Mission Possible Investigations has also produced several articles that have been published in P.I Magazine, the industry’s trade publication.

Richardson always offers a free-confidential case assessment before the start of any case that outlines strategy and cost. For more information, visit  MPInvestigations.com.

Epidemic of Rape and Abuse in Nursing Homes



Recent news breaking on CNN has brought to light many cases of sexual assault and rape against seniors in nursing home facilities. But this is nothing new to Jamie Richardson, founder of Mission Possible Investigations. Working early in his career as an elder abuse investigator, he saw firsthand the abuse and neglect that can happen in these facilities as well as the challenges to prosecute and stop these crimes.
As noted in the CNN article, “In cases reviewed by CNN, victims and their families were failed at every stage. Nursing homes were slow to investigate and report allegations because of a reluctance to believe the accusations -- or a desire to hide them. Police viewed the claims as unlikely at the outset, dismissing potential victims because of failing memories or jumbled allegations. And because of the high bar set for substantiating abuse, state regulators failed to flag patterns of repeated allegations against a single caregiver.”
What can families do to provide their loves one? Know the risk, stay vigilant about care, and fight tirelessly for information. The administration and staff at nursing homes are entrusted to care for the health, welfare and safety of the residents but are often the perpetrators of abuse.  It’s important to remember though that abuse can come from many different places including other residents, visiting family members, and even strangers that enter unsecured facilities.
The physical and mental frailty of many nursing home residents increases their vulnerability and lessens the chance that abuse will be reported and remedied. Patients suffering from dementia, other impaired cognitive functioning, and a high degree of dependence can leave victims particularly vulnerable and are often seen as the highest risk for victimization.
Further, several studies have shown that poor staffing and institutional indifference create conditions for abuse. Assessing risk factors associated with abuse are often an important step.  Consider the following questions: Does the facility have any abuse prevention policies in place? What is the level of staff training and what are the staff background screening procedures? What is the staff to patient ratio and are there high staff turnover rates? What is the facility’s history of deficiencies and complaints?
In addition, the quality of a resident’s relationships with family and their caregivers should also be given consideration. Residents who do not receive visits often may be more vulnerable because there no one from outside the facility to regularly check on their care. However, in some situations, over-zealous family members may actually impede the provision of care. Similarly, the risk rises if resident-staff interaction includes past conflicts, or there is little time available to develop personal relationships.
When abuse and neglect occur at a facility, even if staff are not the accused, the facility can still be held liable for the harm for reasons including the following: negligence in the provision of care, the supervision of residents and employees, the hiring of staff, and the maintenance of premises and equipment.
Nursing home residents are provided a number of legal rights found both in federal and state laws in addition to the basic right to be protected from abuse. These typically include rights to privacy and confidentiality, choices in treatment and care, clear and accessible grievance procedures, and equal treatment by facility staff.
If abuse is suspected, appropriate calls should be made to the police, adult protective services and Long Term Care Ombudsman program, which investigates and resolves complaints made by or on behalf of nursing home residents concerning their health and welfare, safety, and rights. The ombudsman program also maintains a regular presence in facilities by making regular visits to monitor care and provide information and education on long-term care services and conditions in nursing homes. Families of victims should not rely on nursing home staff to call in the investigators, even if they are directed not to call because an “internal investigations” is taking place. Families need to be proactive in ensuring the safety of their loved ones.
Private investigators can be utilized in a number of ways on these suspected cases including doing undercover and surveillance work but most should be willing to work with others investigating to ensure that evidence is not destroyed or mishandled.
For more information on the subject, check out CNN’s story “Sick, dying and raped in America's nursing homes.”

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Spell Casting and Psychic Scams



Psychics, mediums, fortune tellers and spell casters have been around for centuries. From the start, their field has been rife with fraud. There is little protection for victims, many of whom are too embarrassed to come forward or simply feel too threatened to tell. A quick Google search will show the hundreds of thousands of cases where victims have been scammed with scammers gaining millions of dollars through their scams.

One of the biggest hurdles for the victim is other people’s own bias about the legitimacy of such practices so victims are too embarrassed to come forward. Like any kind of scam, the victim feels great shame that they fell for it but that shouldn’t let that stop them from seeking the help they need.

But the question comes up - are there real psychics and spell casters? It depends on an individual’s belief system. There are legitimate psychics and spell casters, who although may not be accurate or get the client the exact results they want, they at least provide a reading or do the work they were hired to do. But believing or not, it doesn’t matter what someone’s belief system is, no one has the right to scam anyone out of their money, valuables, and sometimes their identity.

How the scam works

Fraudulent spell casters and psychics will either set up physical shop or more likely develop an online presence. They sell their services usually via the web under terms like psychics, spells and spiritual services. Almost all stay within the law stating they must have ‘For entertainment purposes only’ on their websites and posted in their shops.

What they offer is as varied as the individuals offering the service. A person in a desperate situation will call and request a spell or spiritual cleanse, money is exchanged and often if it’s fraudulent the victim can never reach the person again. Or the spell caster comes back to the victim time after time requesting more funds, valuables to be sent or gift cards. If the victim does not comply they are threatened sometimes even with death threats. 

A legitimate psychic will simply give the reading to the best of their ability. A scammer will tell the victim they are cursed, have negative energy around them, ask them to come back for a more in-depth look. They will do cold readings, trying to pull information out of the victim and play on that information to psychologically trick the victim that they are real.

Spotting Signs of Fraud

Shady Methods of Payment: Most legitimate psychics and spell casters will accept PayPal or another credit card process service. One of the biggest signs that a spell caster or psychic is a fraud is requesting that a potential victim wire money by Western Union often to a random address or another country with a “waive signature” designated. Some will use Money Gram or other means of sending money that is usually more difficult to trace than a credit card.

Business Information: People should do an internet search about the business, the casters name and other identifying information to see what comes back. Often scam reports from Ripoff Report and similar sites will come up quickly. Many of the psychics and spell casters who were found to be operating a legitimate business didn’t have the best websites and some weren’t even found on the web at all but rather through online forums and word-of-mouth referrals. A number of the fraudulent sites can be traced back to Nigeria and other places in Africa, but many were located right here in the United States. 

Tales of Curses/ Money for Supplies: Those committing fraud were usually the spell casters and psychics who claimed a curse had been put on the victim and their services were the only way to remove it, otherwise the victim would never have happiness. Others pressured the victims and told them they only had limited availability and their case was dire and in need of immediate intervention. There were high pressure sales strategies at work and many victims fell for it. They were often in desperate situations and saw no other way out. Psychics and spell casters play on the fears of the victim to get them to purchase the service. Some will go to great lengths to communicate with the victim right up until time the payment is made, then communication either ceases or they come back time after time and tell the victim more money is needed for more spells or valuables sent and made as offerings. Others tell the victims the money is to purchase supplies and the money will be returned. A common trick is for the victim to be asked to spend large sums of money on gift cards to various stores and send these to the caster with the idea they will be returned. They never are.

Asking for More and More: One of the most common tricks in these scams is to go back to the victim for more money because more work is needed. A common line from them is – “Once I looked into this further, I saw more issues, more negative energy that needs to be cleared and I need more money.” It’s always another issue or another problem and more work needs to be done. Or doing a fraudulent psychic reading, they ask for you to spend more time, come back another day, let’s do a more in-depth reading. The scammer makes the victim feel like it’s a dire situation and something will go wrong if they don’t more spell work. Another common statement is – “If we don’t do more all the initial work we did will backfire or be ineffective.” Bottom line, it’s all just a scam.

Asking for Personal Information: No one needs your social security number or bank or credit card number to do spell work no matter what anyone says.

Promise Immediate Results: Almost all scam sites will tell a victim to expect almost overnight results: Return a lover in twenty-four hours and/or their problems will disappear overnight. This is a huge sign of a scam.