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  1. Information Resources for Case Development“Skip Tracing” Presented by John Oback California Environmental Protection Agency Enforcement Intelligence Team 1

  2. Cal/EPA Enforcement Initiative • Cal/EPA-wide Data Dictionary • Communication Strategy • Enforceable Permits • Enforcement Intelligence • Enforcement Program Operational Plan • Environmental Data Exchange • GIS Contracts • Regional/Cross-media Training Program • Single Complaint Tracking System 2

  3. What is “Skip Tracing?” • Obtaining & documenting all pertinent information needed to fully identify, locate, & contact persons and evidence related to your investigation • This is an overview- additional resources are available 3

  4. Document, Document, Document • If you fail to write something down and put it in your case file, • “It didn’t happen,” or, • “It doesn’t exist.” • Do it now • Same day or next day • Hand written notes are better than nothing 4

  5. Hop, Skip and a Jump • May or may not involve actual “skipping” or “hiding” from investigators • “Stonewalling” is more likely • Piercing the corporate veil • Skip tracing isn’t hard to do (usually) • We all do some form of skip tracing • There are many “tricks” (shortcuts) 5

  6. Western States Project 6

  7. Why do Skip Tracing? Skip tracing is a basic skill you need to: • Properly conduct an investigation • Fully document enforcement cases • Find and punish bad guys • Clean up the environment • Help deter future violations 7

  8. What do we trace? • People • Violator • Witnesses • Owners & Operators • Employees • Complainants & affected community • Companies • Equipment • Documents and other evidence 8

  9. Getting Started • Start a file! • Gather as much information as possible • List all identifying information on hand: • Name • Date of birth (DOB) or approx. age • Drivers license or Social Security numbers • Description (scars and tattoos) • Address, phone, employer, etc. • Ask yourself: “Who regulates these folks?” 9

  10. Where do we get information? • Investigation & case development • Witness statements • Other evidence • In-house files and databases • Sister agencies and professional contacts • Other government sources (DMV) • Internet • Pay services 10

  11. Traceable Items • Permits & other records • Vehicles • Utilities (telephone service) • Mailbox rentals • Credit accounts (loans & charge cards) • Real estate • Court & criminal records 11

  12. Helpful Cal/EPA Documents • List of Information Resources for Case Development • Streamlined version • WSP list is more comprehensive • Environmental Skip Tracing Checklist • Helps busy investigators stay on track • Standardizes case files • Streamlines case review 12

  13. Finding the Hard-to-Find This is where it starts to get “fun” 13

  14. Database Resources • The Western States Project: “R@IN” • Available to all member organizations • Secure login required • http://www.regionalassociations.org/ • US EPA: “OTIS” • http://www.epa.gov/idea/otis/index.html • “ECHO,” public version: http://www.epa.gov/echo/

  15. Licenses & Certificates • Permits & registrations • Contractors State Licensing Board • Business license • Department of Motor Vehicles • Training certifications • Trade associations • Union or club memberships • Special programs by suppliers, wholesalers, or manufacturers 15

  16. Other Regulators • The usual suspects (agencies) • Can they flag recent changes to their files? • Change of address information? • Any ongoing investigations? • Environmental Crimes Task Force • Franchise Tax Board • Employment Development Department • Department of Industrial Relations 16

  17. Department of Motor Vehicles • Trace both vehicles and people • Restricted: Must have an account • Rules apply • Change of address may have been filed • Information on other vehicles (assets) 17

  18. Corporate Records • Secretary of State • Officers • Designated contact for service of legal notices • Get a certified copy (a fee applies) • Political contributions • Regulatory filings, plans, etc. • Check the company website 18

  19. Financial Records Generally, these are paid services • Dunn & Bradstreet (for companies) • Credit Bureaus • Rental Associations • Many other options 19

  20. Court & Criminal Records • Judgments • Divorces • Name changes • Bankruptcy Court • California Law Enforcement Tracking System (CLETS) • Arrest records • Restricted: Law enforcement only (Peace Officers) 20

  21. Phone Book • White & yellow pages • Business offices • Other branches or franchises • Competitors • Internet phone listings • Wider coverage (national) • Reverse directories • Examples of multi-search sites • “The Ultimates” www.theultimates.com • “Skipease” www.skipease.com 21

  22. Directory Assistance • Good place to uncover recent changes • Required to give information for 3 names • Helps with common names like John Smith • Required to provide listed address • Always ask for an address • Whether you need it or not • Otherwise, you'll just hear "Hold for the number please . . .” 22

  23. Directory Assistance (continued) • Get similar surnames • Relatives? • Get neighbors & associates • Call them! • Be nice • The Colombo approach 23

  24. US Postal Service Send a letter to the subject’s last known address marked: “DO NOT FORWARDADDRESS CORRECTION REQUESTED” Letter returns with a sticker showing the forwarding address on file with the USPS Risk of “tipping your hand” if the addressee gets the letter (be sure they’ve really moved) 24