INFOGRAPHIC: The Lies We Tell on Resumes

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Church Background Checks for Volunteers

Any sort of organization that has constant interaction with children is going to require some sort of background check or screening. In Churches, where there is so much focus on the youth ministry and schools, screening is required of all volunteers.

Here are the following steps you need to take to protect your ministry from those who wish to do harm to children

Establish a Background Check Process in Your Ministry

Your state may have specific requirements for your church, including fingerprinting. Check with your attorney or State Police before you begin the process.

  1. Establish who must undergo a background check
  2. Figure out what type of background check you are going to run.
  3. Determine how you will deal with matches on the background check.

What Type of Checks Should You Run on Church Volunteers?

At a minimum, you should run a national sex offender search and multistate criminal database search for your church. On a higher level, you should also run county level criminal felony and misdemeanor searches.

For church employees and those who deal with money, an employment credit report should also be ordered. Additionally, church employees should have every county of residence searched in the last 5 years.

 

 

INFOGRAPHIC: How to Find, Recruit, Hire and Keep the Best Employees

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How Long Does an Employment Background Check Take

With more than 90 percent of employers running background checks on potential candidates, it’s important that you know what they’re looking for before you begin your job hunt. The same applies to banks where you’re seeking a loan and landlords when you’re trying to secure a new place to live. Background checks can make or break your eligibility for all of life’s necessities.

So what do you need to know about the length of your average review? Consider this your guide to understanding background checks.

Types of Background Check

The length of a background check will depend entirely on what kind of check is being run. There are several types:

Criminal Checks

These checks look for arrests, lawsuits, incarceration records and people on the sex offender registry. They typically take anywhere from 3-10 days depending on the agency doing the reporting and the amount of transgressions on record.

Citizenship Checks

More and more employers are requiring citizenship or visa checks to keep themselves from running afoul of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). These checks are usually nothing more than a phone call or a Social Security number run through the federal E-Verify program, so they don’t take long at all.

Credit Checks

Checking an applicant’s credit can be a time-consuming process. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), employers have to get your permission for the review before any digging is done, and even after that you’re looking at a wait of 7-10 days for official processing.

Driving Checks

If you’re applying somewhere as a driver, your employer will need to check your driving record for tickets, accidents and DUIs/DWIs. Don’t expect this to happen any sooner than 48 hours, especially if the employer is having it bundled into an all-purpose background check that can take up to a week to deliver.

Employment Checks

Did you really work at that company? Hiring managers are allowed to check references, employment dates and even performance reviews. Unfortunately, there’s just no way to know how long it will your new employer to speak with your old one.

Education Checks

If you’re applying for an academic or highly technical position, your employer may want verification of your degree. These don’t take long for the schools to fax over, but keep in mind that their offices aren’t open on weekends, and not every request is processed right away.

Tenant Checks

Tenant screening takes place by landlords and homeowners who want to ensure that they’re renting to the right people. These checks look for things like income verification and good rental histories, and they usually take less than 72 hours.

Licensing Checks

Your employer may want to verify that you have the legal certification required for your job. These checks will look at issuance dates, location details and any disciplinary actions taken against you, and they typically take 3-10 days.

Types of Background Checker

In addition to choosing what kind of review to run, employers are often allowed to pick between several different methods of obtaining a background check.

Third-Party Agencies

Third-party agencies are usually the fastest with background checks. They use the Internet to comb through public records, so they typically have results within a matter of days; some agencies even run “instant” background checks that can be done in a matter of hours.

State Agencies

When employers want an official background check, they turn to the state. These reviews are ordered from places like the State Bureau of Identification (SBI) or the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS), and they typically take 7-10 business days to be mailed out.

Federal Agencies

Occasionally a bank or employer will require a background check from the FBI for the purpose of national security. These reviews take the longest; you won’t see results for 30 days or more.

Speeding Up Your Background Check

If you’re in a hurry for that new job, here are just a few ways to grease the wheels of the system:

– Fill out your forms properly. For example, don’t give your nickname or a shortened version of your name on official job applications. “Joe” isn’t in the state’s records; “Joseph” is.

– Offer as many identifiers as you can. Don’t be shy about giving out your birthday, address history or educational level. According to Security Magazine, this will keep you from being confused with other people of the same name.

– Be honest. This may sound obvious, but there’s no use in lying on a form when you’re going to be scrutinized in a background check anyway. Not only will you lose the job, but it can also slow things down when city officials confuse your records with another persons.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when wondering about the length of a background check. As you can see, it depends on a variety of factors, so be as patient as you can. Anxiety won’t make the results deliver themselves any faster.

MVR Driving Record

In today’s difficult environment, it is important for a company to make a firm commitment to risk management. Employee screening is one essential ingredient in an overall risk management program. By thoroughly screening a prospective hire, a company can ensure that they obtain honest, reliable employees.

A company with employee drivers should take every reasonable measure to make sure that these people are safe drivers to protect their business and reduce risks. Among these steps is the use of Motor Vehicle Records Checks to determine if an applicant has a good driving history. Employee driving records have become an important Fleet Safety Program component and can help protect a company against litigation after an accident.

The Basics

An MVR or Motor Vehicle Check shows a person’s driving history including valuable information about their driver’s license such as special endorsements, license class, current and past license statuses including cancellations, revocations and suspensions and any restrictions on their license.

Aside from that, it will also show valuable information about a person’s traffic violations including but not limited to vehicular crimes, accident reports, traffic citations, DUI convictions and driving record points. MVR checks might also show personal information such as an individual’s gender, date of birth, age, weight, height and hair and eye color.

They can also uncover unanswered or unpaid summons and insurance lapses. Usually, MVR checks only show information for a specific number of years. However, the time frame differs by the state. Additionally, employers should obtain a release from the applicant before an MVR check can be run.

The Statistics Do Not Lie

The importance of an MVR check cannot be denied. Companies should determine if their employee is a safe driver not only to protect their equipment but also their customers, clients and others that their workers may have contact with. This is because motor-vehicle crashes cost companies $60 billion annually in legal expenses, lost productivity, medical care and property damage. The average motor vehicle crash costs an employer approximately $16,500.

When an employee is involved in an on-the-job crash that results in an injury, the cost to their employer is $74,000. What is worse is that it can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved. That figure can soar to millions of dollars per incident if punitive damages are awarded. They are also liable for a negligent lawsuit. Such lawsuits also have the potential to destroy the reputation of a company.

The Benefits

It can be hard for a company to predict how an employee will handle their job in a real work setting. If their work requires driving, auto insurance can be involved as well that can significantly affect the operations of their business. Nobody is perfect at driving, but some people are definitely worse than others.

In many cases, driving history repeats itself. Running an MVR check helps a company predict any negative activity that has a higher probability of happening in the near future. At the very least, they can talk to the prospective employee about their driving history after knowing their record and resolving any issues and worries.

However, this does not just equate to peace of mind for business owners. Their insurance company worries about their employees as well. That worry usually translates to money. This is because insurance companies have access to MVR checks, and their premiums may be based on people’s driving history.

Companies may be penalized with higher premiums if their organization reflects poorly in this domain. Insurance is frequently a hazard to operational costs. Fortunately, knowing their employee’s MVR helps companies protect themselves.

Another Hidden Benefit

In addition to companies benefiting from having MVR checks done, prospective job applicants do as well. It prevents them from having unnecessary errors that blemish their identity. Even if their job does not necessarily involve driving, an employer may still want an idea of what is on their driving record.

Having errors on their record can hurt a person’s chances of getting a job. Even if there are no errors, every violation or ticket they have might not show up on record. Knowing what isn’t and what is on their record can help an person prepare for questioning by a prospective employer.

Releasing Time

MVR checks are usually returned within one to three business days from the order date. However, each U.S. state has its own regulations and rules as to how records are released and kept. This affects the turnaround time.

Other reasons for an MVR check to be delayed include name variations and missing or incorrect license numbers. Because motor vehicle licenses are issued by individual states, and each one of them maintains its own database driving records, MVR checks are done per state as there is no national driving record database. Companies should contact the individual Department of Motor Vehicles or comparable department in each state.

A Weakness

Each state has its own regulations and rules as to how Motor Vehicle Records checks are done. Additional forms may be necessary to perform them. What is worse is that some states do not permit a prospective employer to gain access to Motor Vehicle Reports. Because of this, some companies choose to order an MVR check from a reputable third-party company. These companies provide a much faster service. In addition, they perform these checks at a much lower price or sometimes for free.

35 Heinous Craigslist Crimes

Photo courtesy of espensorvik on Flickr

Photo courtesy of espensorvik on Flickr

The information age comes with countless advantages, streamlining communication and allowing people to connect instantaneously.  In the past, several contacts and coordination were often required to get people on the same page, but today mobile phones and computer technology link us at all times. In business, deals can be conducted in real-time and global economics benefit from our ability to stay connected in so many different ways.  But the access created by so many forms of communication also crosses privacy boundaries, and sometimes compromises our ability to insulate ourselves from undesirable elements. Social networking, for example, puts people at risk when managed improperly. That’s why when you try and hire someone, you should use EmploymentBackgroundCheck.com  And local advertising sites like Craigslist literally open the door for strangers to come into our lives.  Safe practices aside, Craigslist crimes are real threats – just ask the unsuspecting victims.

1. The Mentor Murders

Most teens look up to respected elders, admiring them for their accomplishments and abilities, but this twisted plot brought a grown man and his protégé together for all the wrong reasons.  Brogan Rafferty was impressionable enough to participate in a crime spree hatched on Craigslist,  participating willingly in the affair.  Along with his mentor, Richard Beasley, Rafferty placed ads on Craigslist seeking laborers to work on a fictitious Ohio ranch.  Instead of employment, respondents were murdered and robbed.  The duo successful snuffed-out three job-seekers, attempting to kill a fourth man who escaped.  The men were arrested after he went to the police with the outrageous story.  Despite claiming he was coerced, Brogan Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison, the maximum penalty for his crime.  He was a minor at the time of the killings, so the death penalty was not on the table.  Richard Beasley, the demented mentor, was not as lucky.  He was sentenced to death in April, 2013 for the Craigslist murders.

2. Forced Prostitution

College students are always looking for some extra cash, but Tamla Hutchins would not willingly prostitute herself to get it.  Instead, she was lured into forced Craigslist prostitution by a nefarious would-be pimping duo named Carlton Simons and Shenett Reevey.  According to the casework, the pair promised the student an opportunity to meet famous stars like P-Diddy and the rapper Lil John.  Instead, she was forced to prostitute herself using Craigslist ads.  The 2007 crime brought the victim from her home in North Carolina to Queens New York where the plot unfolded.  For his role, Carlton Simmons was sentenced to six years in prison.

3. Donna Jou Disappearance

Some Craigslist crimes go unsolved, partly because of the nature of the site.  Often, one-on-one meetings are arranged on Craigslist, which is never a good idea.  In the case of Ms. Jou, a man has already confessed to involuntary manslaughter and served a portion of the 5-year term he received for the crime.  According to John Steven Burgess, Donna Jou responded to his Craigslist ad and joined him for cocaine and heroin before dying at his home.  When he woke to find her dead, he panicked and threw her body into the ocean.  The truth of the account is suspect, and Burgess has already been released after serving a few years in prison.  In fact, Burgess has since been arrested after again using Craigslist to lure women to his home.

4. Katherine Ann Olson Murder

Responding to a Craigslist ad for a babysitter put Katherine Olson in touch with Amy, a mother needing childcare from 10:30 – 5:00.  The details were set before Ms. Olson reported to work at a split-level home in Savage.  Once there, she was coaxed into an upper area of the home and murdered in cold blood.  Michael Anderson, her killer, was a 19 year old man with poor social skills.  He killed Ms. Olson with a .357 caliber handgun, before dragging her body down the stairs and tying her up. The motive for the killing is largely unknown, though Anderson received the mandatory life without parole sentence.

5. Philip Markoff Craigslist Killer

The highly publicized saga of the Craigslist Killer involved charges stemming from the death of Julissa Brisman, as well as two additional assaults carried out on women responding to Craigslist ads.  The case drew scrutiny for the unlikely perpetrator, who was a pre-med student and seemingly normal chap.  As it turns out, Mr. Markoff had a dark side, displaying sexual deviance and other hidden irregularities.  But perversion is not thought to be the primary motives for the assaults.  Rather, Mr. Markoff appears to have been in dire straights financially, afraid to reveal the situation to his fiancé.  Markoff took his own life in 2010, while serving a life sentence in prison.

6. Raped Maid

Michael Delgado called a maid he found on Craigslist to clean his home, but evidence pointed to a different motive for bringing her in.  According to the 42-year old maid that came to his home, Delgado was little more than an opportunistic Craigslist rapist.  Once there, she claims to have been raped for over an hour, leading to false imprisonment, assault and rape charges against Delgado.  Tried at the end of 2012, Mr. Delgado’s jury ended in deadlock, failing to convict or acquit him on the six felony charges he faced.  He will be retried on at least some of the charges.

7. Baby For Sale

Paul Marquez probably looked over the ‘for sale’ section for quite awhile before trying to sell a baby on Craigslist.  The internet swap meet does not maintain a section for human trafficking.  Mr. Marquez posted the ad out of irritation with his newfound girlfriend who mothered the child.  According to the complaint, he asked $100 for the infant because it was “on his nerves”.  The Craigslist ad was flagged and removed, but the perseverant Marquez reposted the offer.  A responder was given the actual mother’s phone number, who then called police to report Marquez.  several charges were levied, including child endangerment.

Photo by izzymunchted on Flickr

Photo by izzymunchted on Flickr

8. Wine Snob Beating

Seeking the finer things in life is to be admired, but pursuing high-end wine from a discount Craigslist posting carried unanticipated risks for one wine aficionado.  When Quy Duc Nguyen showed up to purchase a handful of rare bottles, he got more than he bargained for.  Traveling all the way from coast to coast, his arrival was tainted by a beating and robbery that left him with sour grapes.

9. Phone Home Shooting

Jonathan Clements used Craigslist to advertise his need for a new mobile phone.  When he set up a meeting with Alexander Lyons, he expected a routine $95 transaction the men agreed upon.  Following safe protocols, the meeting was arranged for a public gas station where safety would not be an issue for the men.  Lyons pretended to be lost though, and instead was directed to Mr. Clements location, his Aunt’s house.  Mr. Lyons was prepared for violence, and soon shot the unsuspecting buyer with a semi-automatic handgun.  Mr. Clements died at the hospital a short time later.  A life sentence was handed-down to Lyons, and the accomplice who furnished the weapon was also charged with murder.

10. Dao Xiong Auto Ad Killer

Craigslist is widely used for selling cars and motorcycles, so meet-ups are scheduled frequently.  St Paul native Youa Ty Lor used the listing service to advertise his Nissan for sale.  Unfortunately, a car thief was trolling the wires looking for victims.  Mr. Lor agreed to meet Dao Xiong for a test drive, but Xiong reportedly never intended to buy the vehicle.  He claims to have been interested only in stealing it, but his plans went awry when Mr. Lor was killed with a forty caliber semi-auto handgun.  The murder weapon and telephone records  quickly tied Xiong to the crime, leading to his arrest and conviction for the killing.  He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

11.  John Katehis S&M Killer

When George Weber placed an ad on Craigslist, he was seeking a partner for a sex-related meet-up.  The respondent, who later agreed to a sexual encounter for $60, was a twisted Satanist and S&M fetishist.  He had a particular preoccupation with knives, which he eventually used to stab Mr. Weber to death.  More than 50 stab wounds were present on his body and neck, inflicted by the sixteen year-old killer.  Katehis was charged with second-degree murder, as an adult.

12.  Long Island Killer

Answering ads for sex is the standard approach for this Craigslist criminal, known as the Long Island Serial Killer. The unidentified perpetrator is though to be responsible for as many as 15 murders in the GilGo Beach area.  Over the course of several years, 10 bodies have been recovered from the area, each linked to the killer.  While theories abound, it is certain the killer preys on prostitutes and women advertising sex on Craigslist.

13.  Boat Buyer Assault

Ronald Kroll used Craigslist for its intended function, placing an ad to sell his boat.  After communicating with an interested buyer, Darin Leutbecker, by phone, a test-drive was arranged and the men met at the boat.  The 37 year-old Kroll fought back after Leutbecker pulled a gun on him, resulting in shots fired.  The men struggled in the boat, before falling into the water, where Kroll eventually remained as his boat was stolen.  Kroll was able to inflict some damage of his own, stabbing his attacker with a pocket knife before he fled.

14. Diamond Deal Killers

James Sanders had a diamond ring to sell, so he placed an ad on Craigslist.  When four individuals responded for a meeting, Sanders directed them to his home.  The Edgewood, WA man was told the ring was to be a Mother’s Day gift, but once inside his home, the group held Sanders and his family captive.  As he struggled to protect his children, he was shot dead by the attackers.  All four criminals were captured and tried, including 24 year-old Clabon Berniard who received a life sentence.

15.  Auto Sale Kidnapping

Selling his BMW was all Alexander Filatov had in mind when he placed an ad on Craigslist.  Travis Landry, who responded to the posting had different ideas for Filatov, including a 400+ mile trip in his own trunk.  After meeting at Landry’s location, Filatov agreed to a test drive, and the men conducted what appeared to be a legitimate transaction.  After accepting payment, Filatov opened the trunk for Landry, who asked to see it.  With threats of violence, Landry forced him into the trunk of the BMW, before taking-off on a 450 mile drive.  Filatov was not harmed, and his help led police to Landry who was later captured and tried.

16.  Work Shirt Robbery

Craigslist does not discriminate among criminals, so it is not surprising that the site aids robberies too.  A particularly clever criminal posted an ad for day laborers, instructing them exactly how to dress for the job.  Ten men reported to the designated location, dressed as instructed.  As they waited for their job assignments, another man emerged in the same outfit.  He sprayed an armored guard with an irritant and ran off with a bag of money.  The men served as distractions, as the perpetrator jumped into the nearby river.  Despite the creative approach, Anthony Curcio was arrested and tried for the robbery.

17.  Ellis T. Jones Craigslist Crimes

Ellis Jones played football at San Jose State, where his coach said he was not a disciplinary concern.  A different story unfolded as Jones was linked to a robbery plot involving Craigslist.  The man used classified ads to lure multiple victims to his location, before Tasing them or threatening them with a gun.  The motive was robbery, which did not end well for Jones who was eventually removed from the football team and brought-up on 13 charges of Craigslist wrongdoing.

18.  Killer: Alejandro Hernandez Rivera

Prostitution advertising is not limited to women on Craigslist.  Alejandro Rivera was a male prostitute advertising regularly online, when he met sixty-six year-old Theodore Neff in 2008.  The retired bank employee was a collector of rare flutes, which Rivera targeted to steal.  in the end, Rivera strangled Neff to death, before setting his house on fire and taking off with his expensive instruments.  Attempting to sell the flutes back to their maker, rivera exposed himself and was arrested for the murder.

19.  Baby Killer

After posting an ad on Craigslist for baby clothes, Korena Roberts met Heather Snively.  the two became fast friends, sharing what was thought to be mutual pregnancies.  The grisly case took a terrible turn when Roberts, who was not pregnant at all, carried out her unseemly plot.  the woman killed her friend, beating her to beat with a police baton, before removing the unborn baby from her womb.  Both victims died, for which Roberts received a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.  During the investigation, it was revealed that Roberts had attempted the scheme previously without success.

20.  Weyrick Murder

Sarah Weyrick was in dire straits financially, so she placed an ad on Craigslist to make some money.  her ad was found in the casual encounters section by a 31 year-old man with grisly intentions.  Some time after meeting with Phillip E. Bolden, Weyrick’s body was discovered in a burned-out vehicle.  She had been stabbed to death, with multiple knife wounds to her neck.  The car she was placed in was set ablaze to conceal the evidence, but the killer was eventually caught.

21.  Len Dykstra Craigslist Sex Crimes

Former professional baseball player Len Dykstra has previously been convicted of grand theft auto, resulting from a scam wherein he bought cars with fake paperwork.  The sports star turned criminal has had other run-ins with the law too, including a Craigslist crime spree involving sexual misconduct.  Dykstra admitted to his crimes, which are essentially the same in each instance.  He would call-in Craigslist advertisers for help around his home, only to inform them that the “help” included massaging him.  Several women came forward, including one claiming he held her at knifepoint, forcing her to rub him. Dyksta served his sentence for the Craigslist crimes concurrently with his auto theft stint, released in the summer of 2013.

22.  iPhone Robbery

When a buyer responded to a Craigslist ad offering a box of iPhones for sale, he got more than he bargained for.  According to the complaint, the Seattle man was instructed to meet the seller at a business location where he said he worked.  Once there, the buyer got into a car driven by the seller’s associate to complete the deal.  Given a box said to contain the phones, he set about getting the 10K in cash out of his trunk.  Instead of closing the sale, the seller pulled a gun and demanded the money.  The box the man was given contained only scraps of metal and trash.

23. Sister Act

Two Raleigh, North Carolina sisters hatched a robbery plot using Craigslist as their trap.  The offer was straightforward – two smartphones for $1100, according to the ad the girls placed.  When a Raleigh man showed up to close the deal, things got a little out of hand.  Instead of the smartphones, Sherida Quanette Bullock and Acqua Bullock produced a handgun, demanding the cash from the would-be buyer, Ibrahima Diouf.  When the man fled instead of giving up the money, the sisters unleashed a hail of bullets in his direction.  The Bullocks were each charged with robbery, as was a third woman, Sherie Brooks, who was eventually tied to the crime.

24.  Minister Goes Above and Beyond

Hiring a minister to conduct your wedding ceremony shouldn’t put you at risk, but apparently when Craigslist is used to find a pastor, anything can happen.  After officiating at their wedding, one Portland minister made-off with the couples’ wedding gifts.  Since the pair were remodeling, a majority of their gifts came as Home Depot gift cards.  The pastor was easy to locate by tracing the numbers on the cards, which led police to security videos showing the man redeeming them.

25.  Girlfriend Revenge

Breaking up is hard to do, but getting even was all that mattered for one Craigslist poster who used the site to seek revenge on his ex.  The depraved plan was to post an ad on Craigslist seeking a rape encounter, directing respondents to his ex-girlfriend’s home.  Unbelievably, he posted the ad and within a week a man broke-in to the girls home and raped her.  The former boyfriend, Jebidiah Stipe, communicated with the rapist even after the ad had been taken down, providing the woman’s home address and additional details about her “fantasy”.  Stipe was arrested, as well as the attacker Ty McDowell.

26.  Stripper Strike

Hiring strippers for bachelor parties is a tradition to some, but for two would-be strippers it was a one-sided affair.  A Huntington Beach man, doing his diligence as the best man, hired two women from a Craigslist ad to strip at a party for the groom.  Instead, the ladies collected their $500 fee and then bolted without stripping at all.  When the men tried to stop them, they were pepper sprayed and punched in the face.  The women escaped with the cash.

27.  House for Sale

The deal of the century presented itself to two Oregon women who had a chance to buy a luxury home for pennies on the dollar.  The deal they found on Craigslist appeared too good to be true, but the pair, Elizabeth Dorscht and Chandler Cook forked over the down payment anyway.  Not surprisingly, the house turned out not to be for sale, and the Craigslist poster disappeared with their money.  Lynne Sisto eventually pled guilty to orchestrating the creative scheme.

28.  Transgender Assault

Edward Terry Wallace responded to a Craigslist ad placed by three transgender ladies who identified themselves as such in the post.  The Chula Vista man reported to the trio’s home and proceeded to rape and beat them.  He used a stun gun to control them and robbed each of their cash, before sodomizing at least one of them.  For his crimes, Mr. Wallace received a 12 year sentence for sexual battery and robbery of the three.

29.  Sex Trafficking Trio

Selling sex is illegal in most places, but prostituting kids is in a whole different class of bad judgment.  Nonetheless, three enterprising Craigslist users managed to launch a child prostitution ring on the site.  Surprisingly, one of the perpetrators was a woman named Jessica King.  Along with her co-conspirators, Jordan Arnold and Christopher Black, King posted pictures of girls in lingerie on Craigslist.  The photos lured johns who hired the young girls for sex.  All three pled guilty to coercion and enticement of a juvenile into prostitution.  Sentences for each defendant were around five years apiece.

30.  Rape My Wife, Please

The bonds of holy matrimony didn’t stop an Idaho man from posting ads on Craigslist seeking men to rape his wife.  The twisted approach included communicating with the men who responded, eventually steering more than one of them to her home.  When one man tried to assault her, the wife grabbed her gun, discharging the weapon.  Police responding to the gunfire were brought up to speed about the depraved plot.  The husband admitted to his crime and faced the music in a courtroom.

31.  No Sex, No Money

A Texas man has been acquitted of killing a woman he met on Craigslist.  the man responded to an ad for sex, arranging to pay the woman $150 for the act.  He lived up to his part of the bargain, but she took the money without performing her end of the deal.  As the two argued over the cash, the woman, Lenora Fargo was shot to death.  In  a bizarre legal twist, the act was ruled self-defense because the shooter, Ezekiel Gilbert, was trying to recover stolen property at the time the shots were fired.

32.  Steven Lewis Kills iPhone Buyer

Lots of Craigslist crimes involve electronics deals gone bad, including the tragic shooting of Mr. Aung Thu Bo.  Responding to an ad for an iPhone for sale, Bo and his girlfriend met innocently with Steven Lewis.  But Lewis is a convicted felon who ended up taking the unsuspecting Bo’s life.  Despite trying to cooperate with the thief, Aung Thu Bo was shot dead in cold blood.  Lewis eventually confessed to the crime, claiming the gun went off accidentally.

Photo by jason lander group on Flickr

Photo by jason lander group on Flickr

33. Marine Shot Over Necklace

Lt. Col Karl Trenker stood-in for his fiancée who had posted a Craigslist ad to sell a gold necklace.  Trenker went to meet a potential buyer in her place, but ran into some trouble.  Despite meeting in an open area, the two men posing as buyers decided to steal the necklace and take-off.  As he pursued them on foot, Trenker was shot multiple times by one of the men.  Jeff Steele fired on Trenker as he chased him, striking him at least three times.  Using his military training, the 48 year old Marine plugged the wounds with his fingers, possibly saving his own life.

34.  Tiara Pool Murder

Tiara Pool’s killer responded to her Craigslist ad, prompting a meeting between the two.  They left the public meeting place to return to Pool’s apartment, where she was brutally murdered.  Her killer, David Sparre was 19 years old at the time of the crime, stabbing Poll more than 80 times.  The deranged Sparre was sentenced to death for the crime.  In a twisted jailhouse letter, Sparre told his ex-girlfriend that he would like to kill again.

35.  Daniel Cook ATV Killing

Daniel Cook and his girlfriend were interested in looking at an all-terrain vehicle offered for sale on Craigslist, so they traveled to Philadelphia to meet with the seller.  After separating Cook from his girlfriend and another traveling companion, Thomas Coffee robbed and killed him.  According to the girl, they were waiting for Cook to rejoin them when two gunshots rang-out.  The 23 year-old Willow Grove man was eventually arrested and charged with murder for posing as a Craigslist seller and taking Cook’s life.

 

 

A Tourist’s Guide to Privacy: Protect Your Information When Crossing Borders

Airplanes, trains and high-powered vehicles have made border-hopping easy to do for those bitten by the travel bug. Smartphones, portable laptops, external hard drives and wireless internet have made it simple to take your most personal information with you wherever you go. Unfortunately, this powerful pocket technology also makes it necessary for you to guard your information like a hawk from identity theft, unauthorized transactions and data smugglers. Find out how below:

  •  Make it easy for yourself, your travel companions, and the customs officials who deal with you by bringing as little sensitive data, personal information and paperwork as possible. Be sure to bring the essentials that you know you will need: your passport, visa if applicable, and any pertinent medical or health insurance-related documents you may need, such as proof of an immunization or prescription medication. Leave everything else at home. Your social security card, birth certificate and tax forms will all be much better off safely tucked in the top drawer of your home office bureau, rather than traveling around the world at risk of disappearing. The key to protecting your information is simple – only travel with the absolute essentials, and backup, backup, backup. Keep commonsense in mind: if you don’t have it, you won’t be able to lose it, have it stolen, or have it floating around in a foreign country without your control. App resources like Protect My ID from Experian can help you decide what to take with you and what to leave at home. Before you depart, don’t forget to make copies of all your important documents that you are traveling with, or scan images of them into your personal computer. This includes items like passports, driver’s licenses, credit cards and proof of insurance. This way, there will be a permanent backup for your most private data.
Image courtesy of Klearchos Kapoutsis on Flickr

Image courtesy of Klearchos Kapoutsis on Flickr

  • Take steps well before you embark on your journey to make sure that your physical possessions are buckled in securely for the ride ahead. Prior to travel, call your credit or debit card companies and alert them to the fact that you will be making charges from another country. Otherwise you may be subject to a freeze on your account while the credit company investigates an unusual charge, which will put you in a tough position as a tourist. Be aware of the local currency, exchange rate, and money change options in your destination country, and make sure to have some traveler’s checks on hand for emergencies. Go through these steps with your laptop before you pack it into your carry-on luggage, and you will be able to have peace of mind as you’re going through security, checking into your hotel and taking your computer out in a foreign country.
  • Keep your computer – and your hands – to yourself. Certain countries have the right to seize or quarantine a traveler’s laptop that they suspect, for any number of reasons, contains data that they want or that they don’t want in their country. Be aware of what you’re bringing in to a country, being especially sensitive to areas like the Middle East, East Asia or Eastern Europe, which are notoriously volatile and zealous when it comes to suspect information. Even the US has declared that it has a right to seize laptops, and “Analyze the information transported by any individual attempting to enter, reenter, depart, pass through, or reside in the United States,” and remain in control of the computer for an indefinite period. Do your best to prevent this from happening by getting rid of all but the files you will need on your trip, keeping a backup of your hard drive at home, and encrypting your data.
  • Use a computer program, app or software to secure your data before you travel with a laptop. These days, travelers for business or pleasure know that exposing yourself to foreign culture can also pose a risk for exposing your data to hackers, investigators or white collar criminals who are on the prowl for personal information that they can use to their advantage. The FBI recently issued a warning to travelers who may be tempted to download software updates over hotel WIFI connections. They caution that hackers have been found using recurring upgrade scams to remotely install viruses or malware onto tourist’s laptops using secure internet access at even five-star hotels. Follow Forbes tips for keeping your computer safe while you travel by installing antivirus software from industry leaders such as ESET or McAfee, and only trusting WPA2 wireless connections. Both hardware and software options are available to encrypt, code, and otherwise hide your data so well that even you might not be able to find it again.
Image courtesy of Christopher Elison on Flickr

Image courtesy of Christopher Elison on Flickr

  • Passports are no longer just innocent pieces of paper stamped with old-fashioned idyllic depictions of foreign countries in fading ink. In the last decade, the average passport has become a high-tech tool, tracking device, information recorder and scan-able data hub. The US electronic passport, for instance, contains an integrated circuit computer chip embedded with your most personal information and head shot. Thankfully, the purpose of the chip is to prevent identity theft and personal crime. But what if your data is “skimmed” or “eavesdropped” from the passport by a sly tech-savvy criminal? The Department of State has luckily taken several steps against this nasty phenomenon occurring, including encrypting your data and making it unalterable. The biometric properties of these modern passports make identity theft virtually impossible, as when crossing borders they electronically match your physical characteristics with those from the picture in your passport. Even in the worst case scenario of losing your passport, it is highly unlikely that someone else would be able to do anything sneaky with it, thanks to this new technology.
  • Be choosy when it comes to a place to rest your head…and your luggage. The difference between a five-star hotel and a two-star can make all the difference in the world when it comes to being confident that your gear will be stored safely and soundly during your trip. “It’s a fact that more serious crime occurs at budget hotels than at major, expensive hotels,” says Peter Greenberg of the LA Times. While we now know that private guest information is not stored on room key cards, we do know that according to security researcher Cody Brocious, hotel locks are not as safe as you might think. In fact, he claims they are “stupidly simple” to open with just about anything. Take advantage of the front desk lockbox as your personal safe-zone during your trip, and keep your valuables in it any time they are not actively in use. Beware of over-the-phone scams, such as the infamous swindler who calls your hotel phone late at night to ask you to reconfirm your credit card information as they had a problem at the front desk. Deal with financial or identity issues in person only, and only with qualified authorities.
Image courtesy of Rob Pongsajapan on Flickr

Image courtesy of Rob Pongsajapan on Flickr

  • Once you’re there, secure your stuff before you do anything else. Don’t reach for those minibar snacks, remote control or hot tub knob before you ensure that your valuables are in the best place for them. For most hotels, this place will be the safe. Bring your valuables to the lobby and have a hotel official lock them in a private safe where they cannot be tampered with. Any smaller or less important items that you just need to have in your room with you should stay in your locked luggage, or in a theft-proof, slash-proof bag secured to a piece of stable furniture, as Hotel Chatter suggests. Don’t scatter important devices like flash drives or folders around the room or stick them in a drawer only to forget about them. This puts you at risk for theft, damage or loss at the hands of an over-enthusiastic housekeeper.
  • Travel intelligently – don’t lose your head as fast as you lose your spare change at the local outdoor market. Keep your passport close at hand. An organized travel carrier that loops around your neck and contains a clear window to hold your passport, other form of identification, credit card, emergency cash and/or traveler’s check is invaluable. These carriers can be situated under clothing, so your most irreplaceable documents are hidden from view and accessible only by you. For ladies, there are Rack Traps, special hidden bra-compartments specifically designed for carrying cash and credit cards. Be cognizant of hidden fees, currency change charges and country-specific quirks when traveling with your credit card.
Image courtesy of M Roach on Flickr

Image courtesy of M Roach on Flickr

  • Travel smart – keep your home country in the loop of your whereabouts. American citizens can utilize the free-of-charge Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP) to alert the US of their travel plans, location and rough itinerary before they leave the country. In the case of a security breach, emergency or disaster, the Department of State will assist you through the embassy or consulate wherever you are. Learn how to stay abreast of travel warning and advisories so that you and your information will not be put in jeopardy should a situation arise.
  • Secure your person before you secure your personal belongings. Remember that no matter how valuable that iPad or the contents of that priceless wallet, the value of your own human body trumps it. In the unlikely event that you are faced with a physical threat, as long as you remain unscathed the information or cash that you’re trying to protect can always be righted somehow. Consider take a self-defense course before you travel abroad so that you feel prepared with an appropriate response if something were to happen. There are many East-Asian martial arts defense classes available, as well as basic personal protection training sessions. Check out Antor.org‘s guide to self-defense for travelers for more information.

10 Political Figures Who Could Not Pass a Modern Background Check

Background checks look at past behavior in attempts to predict what will happen in the future. They are used in all segments of modern society, during business transactions and credit evaluations. Landlords use background checks to investigate applicants for housing, and employers with sensitive job requirements use them to determine whether or not job applicants check-out. Organizations request background checks with specific feedback in mind, focusing on the elements of people’s histories that give them the information they need most. Your criminal history and basic information about where you have lived are included in profiles of your background, as well as your marital status and other details about your history. Political figures, even past Presidents, are not immune to the failings of human nature, landing them in hot water along the way. Would these former United States Presidents and high-profile politicians pass background checks?

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

  1. Andrew Johnson – Background checks rely on specific points of data to create profiles of people’s lives.  Sometimes the whole picture tells a different story than the snapshot created during a background check, but facts and figures usually don’t lie.  In the case of President Andrew Johnson, the first American President ever to be impeached, the public record might not reflect the reality of our 17thPresident’s character.

    Getting impeached from the United States Presidency ranks right up near the top on a list of things you’d rather not have pop up during your background check.  Johnson was impeached during a divided political period in American history.  The Republican revolution occurring during the time did not bode well for the moderate Johnson, who was bullied politically and impeached without much cause.  The articles of impeachment were drawn up for high crimes and misdemeanors including violation of a recently passed act of Congress with which he did not agree.  The entire proceedings have been hailed as a witch-hunt against Johnson.  In 1868 the House of Representative voted on impeachment, resulting in an acquittal for President Johnson, who was widely seen as the victim of a railroading effort by his political opposition. Learn more at History.com

  2. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

  3. David Duke – This would-be political heavy-hitter is most notorious for his role with the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, his government service is limited to his elected role as a member of the Louisiana State Assembly.  His visibility outside the state results from his unsuccessful attempts to gain other political offices.  He ran for President in 1988 and in 1992, and as recently as the twenty-twelve elections was still playing an active role in presidential politics.

    Mr. Duke is unapologetic about his positions regarding voluntary segregation and each man’s right to protect his heritage.  In addition to failed presidential campaigns, Mr. Duke has attempted to gain other positions in government, including United States Senator, United States Congressman, Governor of Louisiana and State Senator.  As a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Duke is outspoken about race relations and also formed the group National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP).  He posts regularly to online forums associated with white supremacy and has spoken against Jewish control of media outlets.  He was convicted of tax fraud in 2002, and sentenced to 15 months in prison.  It was determined that he had been bilking money from followers, which he eventually spent on himself.  In part, he told followers that he was about to lose his own home to debt and needed money to stay afloat.  After raising hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of donations, it was determined he was not in the financial distress described. These Huffington Post stories contain detailed information about Duke.

  4. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

    Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

  5. William Jefferson Clinton – Until Bill Clinton occupied the office of the presidency, one-hundred thirty years had passes since the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, which stood as the only such action on the United States books.  Unfortunately for President Clinton, he holds the dubious distinction for being the next and only other President to be impeached.

    The exploits of the former President are clearly ingrained people’s memories; in part due to the fact that he is one of the more recent Presidents to get caught in an inappropriate situation.  On the other hand, the details of his indiscretions were particularly salacious, creating significantly greater public interest than the regular output from the oval office.  However you slice it, the 1998 impeachment vote taken by Congress is a background check development that might be looked at as a black mark on the former President’s record.  In Mr. Clinton’s case, the stain on his credibility resulted from lying about his previous activities, rather than the unconventional behavior itself.  In other words, had the President come forth with his wrongdoing, or even owned up to it when it was obviously exposed, he may have been able to preserve his reputation.  The Raw Story Looks at Mr. Clinton here

  6. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

    Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

  7. Ulysses S. Grant – Extensive background checks, like those conducted by law enforcement agencies at all levels, often include assessment of friends, family and neighbors.  So the crowd you associate with might have an impact on the results of your background profile – for better or worse.  If there was a presidential case for running with the wrong crowd, U.S. Grant might be one of the better examples of a reputation tarnished by association.

    During his presidency, Grant was rocked by several ongoing scandals.  The improprieties ranged across a spectrum of inappropriate patronage and manipulating financial markets.  There were serious implications for the Nation’s most important employee, even when he was not a primary player in the developing scandals.  Keeping the wrong company first got Grant in trouble when he responded to a gold market situation with unapproved measures.  Stock scandals followed, as the President’s Congress and Cabinet became involved in patronage deals giving them access to favorable stock manipulation.  In 1875, Grant’s principles were further questioned when close associates were found to be skimming Whiskey taxes for their own use.  The conditions during his presidency became so outrages that the very notion of political corruptness among his allies and advisors became known as ‘Grantism’.  Having your name tied to immorality and corruption is not a positive background check outcome. The Miller Center provides profiles of Grant and other past Presidents.

  8. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

  9. Silvio Berlusconi – Regardless of the prevailing country being governed, certain standards apply.  Silvio Berlusconi is a colorful character in his own right, gifted with great wealth and charisma, but his personal record includes a few legal blemishes that may get in the way during background checks.

    In addition to his convicted role as a tax evader, Mr. Berlusconi has been linked to additional improprieties.  The former Italian Prime Minister has been accused of turning a blind eye toward organized crime, and for filing false accounting reports.  Other accusations of bribery and corruption have followed Mr. Berlusconi through the spotlight, including allegations of influence peddling with judges and police officials.  One of the most problematic legal questions dogging Mr. Berlusconi is his 2013 conviction of soliciting a minor for sex.  He was found guilty of paying for sex with a 17 year old, and is prohibited from holding office during the seven and one-half year sentence he was given.  The case is expected to come up for appeal, so the sentence will not be carried out until the appeal is concluded. The case is one of approximately 20 proceedings aimed at Mr. Berlusconi during his tenure in office. Mr. Berlusconi in the news.

  10. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

    Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

  11. Richard M. Nixon – Taking a page from the Bill Clinton handbook, long before it was written, President Richard Nixon used his authority for personal pursuits of power.  Long associated with political scandal, the former President gained notoriety for his early-70’s antics and over the top political gamesmanship.

    The central feature of Richard Nixon’s downfall was a scandal which came to be known simply as “Watergate”.  The reference is to the Watergate Hotel and business buildings where the most famous abuse of Presidential power occurred.  In 1972, a group of five men broke-in to the Democratic National Headquarters located within the Watergate complex.  The break-in and the President’s subsequent attachment to the ensuing cover-up effort brought Nixon to the mercy of his political adversaries.  Had he not resigned in 1974, it is almost certain he would have been impeached for the cover-up and lies associated with Watergate.  White House profile of the 37th President.

  12. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

  13. Albert Fall – Although not a household name, Albert Fall will live in infamy for his scandal-plagued tenure as Warren Harding’s Secretary of the Interior.  It is not uncommon for politicians to bring their own supporters with them once they gain office.  In the case of the Harding Presidency, prestigious cabinet posts were meted out to friends and supporters of the President.  As a result of hiring associates from back home in Ohio, Warren Harding had an administration uncharacteristically wrought with ethics difficulties.  Multiple cabinet officials were implicated in a variety of improprieties resulting in disciplinary action, the worst of whom was Albert Fall.

    While some of the corrupt cabinet members made their own criminal names, it was the Teapot Dome scandal that brought down Fall and others Harding associates.  Fall was the first-ever cabinet member convicted of a crime, for his role in the Teapot Dome affair.  In exchange for control of the federal oil reserves in Teapot Dome, Wyoming, Albert Fall had taken a bribe from Mr. Harry F. Sinclair.  Mr. Fall served two years in prison as the most famed member of Harding’s “Ohio Gang” Mr. Fall’s interesting role in history is studied here.

  14. Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

    Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

  15. Ronald Reagan – Business dealings are regulated in most cases, but certainly subject to transparency in almost all cases.  What Ronald Reagan learned during his tenure as President of the United States is that is does matter who you do business with.  Guilt by association is a powerful elixir for the American public, so if your bedfellows include Contra rebels and Iranian arms dealers you will be held accountable.

    In 1986 it came to light that the Reagan administration was active in a side business unknown to American citizens.  Top players in the administration, it turns out, were selling arms to Iran.  The practice was problematic for several reasons, not the least of which concerned an embargo on Iran strictly prohibiting it.  How much the Commander in Chief knew, and when, is still the subject of debate, but there is another aspect of the illegal activity that disturbs some analysts even more.  Some of the officials involved in the Persian arms deals also advocated for using the money in very specific ways.  Half a world away, arms profits were allegedly targeted for funding Contra rebels in Nicaragua.  Not only was the public left out of the loop, but the Congress had already acted decisively prohibiting further funding for Contras.  The Iran-Contra Affair, or Irangate, as the episode became known, remains a blemish on the former President’s background. For all the facts about the former President, see his profile at the Reagan Library.

  16. Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

    Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

  17. Jesse Jackson Jr. – Perhaps no civil rights advocate has shared the podium with more Presidents and influential politicians than the Reverend Jesse Jackson.  Wielding great power across the country, it was in Illinois that his son Jesse Jackson Jr.  was to make a name for himself in politics.  Despite the head-start given him by his family name, and the morality espoused by his father, politics did not work out well for the younger Jackson.

    Convicted felons are not high performers on background checks.  And so it goes for Mr. Jackson, who  was convicted of several crimes in office.  After leading the charge in Congress for the 2nd District of Illinois, the Congressman was investigated for wrongdoing in fall of 2012.  He subsequently resigned, amid bizarre absences and claims of medical disorders ranging from bi-polar disorder to gastrointestinal distress.  As it turns out Mr. Jackson was funding an extravagant lifestyle, along with his wife, using campaign donations from his re-election fund.  As a result, the former co-chairman of President Barrack Obama’s election campaign was sentenced to 30 months in prison.  In addition to the misappropriation of funds, Mr. Jackson was convicted of mail and wire fraud.  For her role in the scheme, which netted about seven-hundred fifty thousand dollars’ worth of illegal spending, Sandi Jackson received 12 months in jail.

  18. Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

    Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

  19. George W. Bush – President George Bush had his share of detractors during his time in office.  Sentiment against his father aside, Bush had his own negative impact on people’s perception of him.  The truth is that his legal troubles started long before the whole weapons of mass destruction problem came to light.

    Bush was arrested at the age of 20 for some drunken antics with friends, which resulted in the group stealing some items from a department store.  The charges were dropped.  In 1976, however, Bush was cited for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated near his family’s Kennebunkport home.  The drunk-driving conviction alone, nor his acknowledgement that he overused alcohol until age 40, are not enough to count the younger Bush out entirely, but there additional concerns about his substance use.  Some sources indicate that the former President may have used drugs like Cocaine, which could be problematic for passing standardized FBI background screenings.