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KN, p.234 “Do you want to be an FBI Agent? Part 2”

 

Do you want to be an FBI Agent? Part 1” highlighted the backgrounds of two former FBI Special Agents, their differing career paths, salary, and job aspects. Bucky and Chris Cox continued to chat, revealing more agency specifics and notes about a wide range of cases that the FBI oversees, in Part 2. Take a look:

 

FIELD OFFICE PERFORMANCE

Every field office undergoes performance reviews. The FBI is a statistic driven agency. Among other things, internal inspectors count the number of arrests and convictions at each office, looking for reasonable numbers of completed cases, and how efficiently they were concluded. But, the type of crimes is taken into consideration. While a specialist in bank robberies might clear 10-15 cases a year, white collar cases such as bank fraud, health care, or telemarketing can take longer to investigate and prosecute because of their complexity and the fact that they may be occurring in more than one State. Agents also have to prove that the suspect knowingly and willfully committed the crimes.

 

There are mandatory reports to be written after a case is completed. The standard rule applies: “If there is no paperwork, it didn’t happen.” Forms MUST be filled out so that people can be prosecuted and a decision can be made on what parts of the evidentiary findings can be more solidly prosecuted and whether the case will be tried in a federal or state court.

 

If you think this is a 9 to 5 profession, it’s not. There are many wakeup calls in the middle of the night because an agent is on duty 24/7. FBI agents may be called to other States or even to other countries beyond the home base if the case takes them there. If you are counting on a permanent posting in one city, look elsewhere for a career.

 

When applying to attend the Academy, you won’t be able to hide anything in your background and will have absolutely no secrets from your employers. Because of Robert Hansen, an FBI agent who was a spy for the Russians on and off from 1979 until 2001, there are now polygraphs administered at the beginning of the application process as well as several times during a career in order to avoid further infiltrations by a foreign agent. Your personnel file is available to the Defense Attorney that represents the suspects (defendants) in the cases you work on, so if you have Lack of Candor (you lied or covered up a mistake during your career) in your file, you can be discredited on the stand in court. Agent credibility is essential for successful prosecution of the case.

 

 

The FBI’s Wide Variety of Cases 

 

KIDNAPPINGS

After 24 hours, kidnappings that cross state lines come under FBI jurisdiction – use of the telephone or email can make it an interstate crime. The FBI is called in (usually by the police) because of their expertise, resources, ability to negotiate, and quick access to required warrants. The FBI can’t tell families whether to pay any ransom or not, but there is surveillance on the payout if that choice is made.

 

FYI – In general, international kidnappings are handled by negotiators working for the big companies whose employees have been snatched.

 

BOMBINGS

If the FBI is the lead agency, the teams will arrive after First Responders have secured the scene. If the mail is involved, then Postal Inspectors will work the case as well, but if not, then the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) unit and an Evidence Response Team (ERT) will be involved. There is some negotiation between the different agency teams so that no duplication of effort occurs.

DEATH ON THE JOB

People see agents depicted as tough and resilient, but let’s face it, field work can be dangerous. Chasing and apprehending fugitives sometimes includes guns and shooting. Bank robberies and other crimes can involve hostages and lethal force.

 

DUPLICATE DRUG INVESTIGATIONS

It doesn’t often happen, but various other government agency investigations might target the same or overlapping drug cartels. Blue on blue conflict can be very risky, so big cities have de-confliction rooms. Before a big bust, someone checks a database for scheduled buys, so that law enforcement agencies aren’t tripping over each other at the scene.

 

COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION

For people doing the day-to-day work, it’s not about the politics, but agents are cast in the same light as Senior Management. That can happen even if the agents personally might have nothing to do with what’s unfolding in Washington, DC or elsewhere in the world. The FBI played no part in the Rodney King events, but after the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, a big bank case came up. A juror on that case said, “If the LAPD can lie, so can the FBI” and that works both ways.

 

WHITE COLLAR CRIME

White-collar crime refers to fraud perpetrated because of a desire for financial gain. Some scams have cost companies/investors billions of dollars and wiped out entire life savings. Among others, the FBI has investigated cases involving money laundering, securities and commodities fraud, bank fraud and embezzlement, election law violations, telemarketing fraud, and health care fraud. They have worked with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the IRS, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Treasury Department to catch the worst offenders.

Corporate Fraud is a serious threat to the economy and the FBI concentrates on cases that involve accounting schemes designed to deceive everyone about the true financial condition of a company. Agents specializing in white collar crime look for bogus accounting entries, and fake/illegal trades rigged to protect the trader or avoid regulation. They keep an eye out for insider trading, misuse of corporate property, and tax fraud.

 

LOVE IN THE BUREAU

Relationships have been known to begin within the agency, because not many people outside law enforcement understand/accept the demands of the job. For FBI couples that marry, if both spouses are street agents, the relationship is not an issue. But, if one or the other reaches management level, one can’t supervise the other. If a slot opens up where a spouse is posted, the other can apply, but there is no guarantee that the married applicant will get it.

 

WRITE ALL ABOUT IT?

Everyone must sign a non-disclosure agreement because they can never talk about classified cases. There is a special unit that handles whether or not an agent can write about something – all manuscripts must go through pre-publication review. The only cases that can be written about are those closed cases which are part of the public record. Also, former agents are not allowed to write about investigative techniques or their sources.

 

Besides being a top investigator, AN AGENT IS:

  • a sales person (must be able to sell yourself and your case to the Assistant US Attorney, Judge, and Jury)
  • a communicator (talk, write a convincing document, listen well)
  • a business owner (how much will it take to run the case)

 

Ready to sign up?

Many thanks to Bucky and Chris Cox for generously sharing their time and knowledge about the details of the job of Special Agent in the FBI.  🙂

 

*Photo credits: official photos from the FBI     

 

 

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KN, p. 215 “Fraud Squad: Save Grandma from Bankruptcy”

 

In “Grandma Bought a Half-Price Whatsit” we pointed out a few phone scams that sadly, have worked on many Senior citizens. How can we keep our Seniors safe from fraudsters? One solution is to cut down on the possible interactions with the bad guys. Here are a few easy lifestyle changes for Seniors and their honest caregivers.

 

  1. Be aware that you are at risk from everyone – family members challenged by money problems may take advantage of a Senior’s vulnerability. Choose the person to help with your money who doesn’t need it, because unfortunately, over 90% of all reported elder fraud is committed by the Senior’s own family members – including their adult children and grandchildren! There are many reports of emptied joint checking accounts, and outright theft.

 

  1. Stay involved!

Some Senior citizens withdraw from the larger community, but then have nobody to share their concerns with. Sheila’s mom did volunteer work at a local church and made great friends there. Four of them organized a daily check-in system. They made phone calls to chat and make sure each was okay.

 

  1. Tell people on the phone: “I never give money over the phone to a telemarketer. Send me something in writing.” Always wait until you receive that written material. Don’t donate to anyone who will only take credit cards.

 

  1. Don’t open the door to people you don’t know.

Get a peephole installed so that you can see who’s standing on the doorstep. If you don’t recognize the person out there, ignore the knocking. They’ll go away. If they don’t, call the police and DON’T open the door except to the Police Officer.

 

  1. Shred all receipts with your credit card number

Buy—and use—a paper shredder. Check your bank and credit card statements every month and never give out personal information over the phone unless you had called them first.

 

  1. Sign up for the “Do Not Call” list and take yourself off mailing lists.

Do not let mail sit in your mailbox for more than one day. When sending out bill payments, drop the envelopes off at the post office or consider setting up automatic bank withdrawal for the predictable monthly utility bills. If you are going out of town for a few days, have the Post Office hold your mail until you get back.

 

  1. Use direct deposit for benefit checks.

Using direct deposit allows checks to go right into your accounts, protecting them from thieves who steal right from the mailboxes or from your home if the checks are left lying around for nosy visitors to see. Never leave cash lying around.

 

  1. Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security, Medicare, or other personal information over the phone unless you are the one that called them first.

Misuse of Medicare is one of the largest scams involving seniors. One ploy is to sell unneeded equipment to the clients at nursing homes. Sheila’s Mom did a stint in an Assisted Living place for a few weeks after she broke a hip. One day, we walked in and saw a brand-new, $1,000. wheelchair sitting in her room. A chair that she did not need, and had not been authorized by Sheila or anyone at the place. The salesman had come directly to her room, told Mom that she was entitled to it because of her injury, and that Medicare would pay for it. Since the guy had come to her room, Mom thought the whole thing had been cleared by all of her lovely people. Not needing the chair in the first place, she was confused, but thought the doctor had suggested the chair. Nope.

 

Review your Medicare statements and report suspicious activities to 1-800-MEDICARE. We did, and they investigated. The residence made some changes in how the sales people contacted the residents. The wheelchair company was in big trouble.

 

  1. Be an informed consumer. Take the time to shop around before buying big ticket items.

Read all contracts and understand all your rights to cancel and get a refund if needed. Don’t let yourself be pressured into buying anything. Get an endorsement from somebody you know for any repair work needed around the house. Don’t hire anyone that just shows up on your doorstep without having been called by you first.

 

If you are a Senior Citizen and you think your credit cards or bank accounts have been compromised,

  • Call your bank and/or credit card company.
  • Cancel any debit or credit cards linked to the stolen account.
  • Reset your personal identification number(s).

 

Every state operates an Adult Protective Services (APS) program. Anyone who suspects elder exploitation should make a report. Call them at 1-800-677-1116 weekdays. Additionally, the National Council on Aging is an excellent source of information in the USA for Senior Citizen programs.

 

*The Kerrians are a fictional family, but the wheelchair incident actually happened. Medicare fraud is a really big deal and reporting abuses to the system helps everyone.

 

*The savvy Senior in the photo is happily cared for by her loving, kind family.

 

 

 

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KN, p. 214 “Fraud Squad: Grandma Bought a Half-Price Whatsit”

 

Our local TV station anchors mentioned an upcoming segment dealing with Seniors who were being targeted by telemarketing scammers. They stated that law enforcement was very concerned that scams against the elderly were on the rise. Who would do such a thing to people at a more vulnerable stage in their lives? Unprincipled, greedy people who see our Senior Citizens as easy marks.

 

The phony telemarketers promise ‘Senior Emily’ a “super-duper whatsit” for a mere twenty dollars. The caller lets Emily in on a *secret* – this is half the normal price for this item and she is one of a few handful of lucky people to get this offer – then asks for a credit card # to expedite the sale. “We need to add shipping charges to get it to your house by tomorrow.” Sounds reasonable to Emily. Tomorrow comes and there is no product on the doorstep. But, the scammer now has the credit card # and is already buying electronics and whatever else his/her heart fancies. They won’t be delivered to Emily either.

 

Our Emily mentions to her son that she never got her half-price whatsit and alarm bells go off as the conversation continues. The credit card is cancelled and counseling is given, but not before thousands of dollars of merchandise has been purchased.

 

Sadly, this happens day after day all over the country, and is such a big problem in some areas that law enforcement has task forces whose sole purpose is to catch the scammers.

 

This seems like a simple problem for the family to handle. Have a chat with the Emily in your life about not giving credit card numbers over the phone to anyone? Done. The problem goes away, right? Except that most ‘Emilys’ never mention the phone call until the bill comes in. The scammers keep spending until the credit card limit is reached or the card is closed. These days, credit card companies don’t hold their customers liable for fraudulent purchases, but there are other phone scams that have the potential of wiping out Emily’s life savings with no possibility of ever recovering the money.

 

The scams include Medicare and other insurance scams, cemetery plot purchases, investment schemes, reverse mortgages, lottery scams, and in my opinion, the lousiest of all, the “relative” scam. In this one, a supposed relative calls the Senior on the phone and without identifying themselves, asks if they know who is calling. The Senior makes a guess from among the younger relatives who would call and the caller now has a real name to work with. Now they can impersonate the relative and ask for money from the Senior for a car repair, late rent, etc. and arrange to have the money sent by wire somewhere. And, sweet Emily promises not to tell the rest of the family that ‘the relative’ is experiencing tough times.

 

How despicable to prey on family connections!

 

There are many, many more scams involving Senior Citizens. The National Council on Aging lists the most common, and several of these have multiple variations.

 

And get this: According to the National Council on Aging, 60% of the financial abuse against Seniors is perpetrated by members of the victim’s own family. Not-so-nice children or siblings or grandchildren cash social security checks and keep part or all of the money. Grocery money goes missing, and the list goes on. Seniors that live alone are especially vulnerable if they have caregivers with them for part of the day who so very ‘kindly’ offer to help with finances.

 

So, what is an honest family member to do to protect Emily? The next post will reveal some tips.

 

 

P.S. The ‘Emily’ in the photo has a lovely family that takes excellent care of her needs.

 

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