August 16, 2007

"Dietrich" tracked by medical bills

(CBS) LOS ANGELES A 26-year-old man was in custody Friday after being on the run for more than a year following a high-speed crash in Malibu that left a rare $1 million Ferrari Enzo in pieces.

The driver of the Ferrari, Swedish national Stefan Eriksson, had previously claimed that a mysterious German man named "Dietrich" had been driving when the collision with the utility pole occurred. Eriksson failed two alcohol breath tests at the scene of the crash, and was later charged with embezzlement related to leased car exports and his video game firm Gizmondo.

Irish native Kearney, who was a passenger in the Ferrari Enzo during the crash, fled the country after the crash but was smuggled back into the U.S. a year later from Tijuana, Mexico.

Authorities tracked him down this week, thanks to medical bills generated after his return to California and sent to a Marina del Rey address, the source said.

Kearney was charged with perjury and obstructing, both misdemeanor crimes. Why would police track this man via medical bills for two misdemeanors? In order to force him to testify against Eriksson in a media-frenzy drunk driving case, undoubtedly.

Medical records are an open book to anyone with a subpoena. All too often medical professionals allow access to records after only an informal request from a detective or investigator. More troubling is the ease with which private investigators and other outside parties seem to get medical records via bribery, pretexting, or court-ordered legal discovery.

If Kearney hadn't had his medical bills sent to his address of record -- the address he gave to police investigators at the crash site -- he might not be under indictment for two misdemeanors today.

Remember, also, that lying to police is usually a misdemeanor and lying to federal agents is a felony. Just ask Martha Stewart.

Read the Findlaw article "How to Avoid Going to Jail under 18 U.S.C. Section 1001 for Lying to Government Agents" for more information on lies within federal jurisdiction and how to decline a federal interview by invoking counsel.

August 15, 2007

Revenge website targets credit score reports yesterday that an illegal website offered to ruin the credit score of anyone for a small fee, and even to arrange to have them suspected of bank fraud.

Making numerous credit applications with the victim's SSN and DOB and invented addresses and names will cause the person's credit to be put on hold, claims the website.

The UK-centric web-based service also offered to create false bank documents, identity cards, automobile registry papers, paychecks and tax forms.

Such fraudulent services are doubtless short-lived when discovered by the public and law enforcement agencies, but this report is illustrative of the types of financial and bureaucratic vulnerability most people have in modern society. You can imagine the potential ramifications in your life if your credit cards, credit line and bank account were suspended, even if only temporarily, and the trouble and costs to have the situation resolved.

Let this threat serve as a another reminder to shred documents, jealously guard your financial privacy and personal information, check your credit report, and avoid situations that could compromise personal data.

August 8, 2007

Irish Grandparent? Irish Passport

Many people who can document that one of their grandparents was an Irish citizen, can apply for Irish citzenship via entry in the Register of Foreign Births, and then apply for an Irish passport. Children of those foreign-born Irish citizens with Irish grandparents are eligible too, as long as the child was born after the parent's citizenship was recorded by an Irish Consulate.

Before applying, I investigated and verified that Ireland had no military draft law and did not tax citizens living abroad, thereby making it safe to proceed. What were the advantages beyond maintaining a link to our ancestral homeland being a conversation piece? The idea of having an EU passport that allowed me to travel and work in the, now 27, nations of the EU without having to hassle with visas and work permits that are usually required to travel, live or work in a foreign nation was appealing. Also, being familiar with the bloody history of the 20th century as well as having worked in both aviation and IT, two areas where backup systems are standard operating procedure, I felt that a costless backup citizenship might make sense for my descendants. The biggest reason was probably the potential advantages it would offer to my children and me in the global economy which, even then was the apparent trend for the future.

U.S. citizens can become dual citizens as long as the alternate citizenship is granted after their U.S. citizenship, as the U.S. citizenship process requires an applicant to renounce all other citizenships. Ireland, by contrast, does not require an applicant to renounce other citizenships.