As a follow up to my blog post earlier this week about how car-sharing service Uber’s flawed background screening process exposed customers to drivers with recent felony backgrounds, CBS 11 interviewed me about the issue. The full text of the story is available on the CBS11 website.
Had the owners of the Acadia Arms Apartments in Lufkin, Texas completed a background check on Jose Diaz before hiring him as a handyman, they would have learned that he has convictions for driving while intoxicated, driving while his license was suspended, and a felony conviction for possession of cocaine for which he spent eleven months in prison before being paroled in 2007.
This is definitely not someone you want to have keys to your apartment.
According to television station KTRE: The owner says they didn’t check him since he was only contracted for ten days.
A female resident says she awoke inher bedroom on January 6th to find Diaz pulling off her shorts and began screaming, according to The Lufkin Daily News. When her roommate responded with a gun, Diaz left the apartment.
Since the incident, several other residents have made complaints against Diaz, including one, according to television station KLTV, who says he… it’s just too gross – you can read it on their website if you wish. (Warning: It is both graphic and gross.)
Many employers fail to conduct a meaningful criminal background check on contingent or temporary workers, thinking that they will only be around for a short time. That faulty thinking fails to recognize that a temporary worker with ill intent only needs a short amount of time to identify the vulnerabilities of the employer, coworkers, or customers. Imperative recommends that our clients select temporary employees with the same degree of diligence as regular employees.
Carollena Vaccaro has a long criminal history that includes a felony conviction for possession of a forged instrument. So how did she get a job as a nanny working for an entrepreneurial family?
Simple, according to the Rochester, New York Democrat and Chronicle:
Vaccaro was sentenced to serve between three and six years in prison for two counts of felony identity theft after pleading guilty this week. The family who employed her apparent only lost a $25 Walmart gift card and, very probably, the sense of security in their own home.
So, the question is how could this family have avoided becoming entangled with this woman?
With her history of forgery, it is possible that if the family completed the I-9 process (which many residential employers fail to do), she may have presented valid-looking identification with her picture and her family member’s identity info.
With the false identity information, the criminal background check conducted by the family was useless. Assuming that was the case, the next level of defense would be to verify both her credentials, in this case a nursing license, and her previous employment history. Employment histories are fairly easy to fabricate but a good background screening firm will have a process to try and substantiate the identity of the individual’s providing references. This is often something that private employers, particularly families hiring domestic help, are ill-equiped to accomplish.
According to press reports, it also evident that this family was not Vaccaro’s first victim. Numerous people apparently had been taken advantage of by her under several different names. It seems that the local small claims court was very familiar with her, as well.
It is interesting how many individuals fail to conduct thorough background checks on employees who will be working in their homes, especially when hiring a nanny to working with children, housekeepers, home healthcare workers, or others with access to their residence.
In Vaccaro’s case, the damage was limited to minor theft. However, if a thief can gain acesss to a family this easily, how much more difficult would it be for someone with a history of violence or sex offenses to get into the household?
Last month, the United States Attorney General filed federal identity theft charges against Angela Cuellar, a former employee of a Waco-based state contractor responsible for collecting the fingerprints of those seeking state background checks. This part of the story has been widely reported.
However, Imperative Information Group conducted our own research on Ms. Cuellar and the results are startling.
Apparently, her former employer failed to conduct a criminal background check on her or, worse yet, chose to ignore the results of the background check. That bad hiring decision resulted in the identity theft scandal unveiled in last month’s indictment, according to the federal indictment.
Integrated Biometrics Technology (IBT) operates a fingerprint collection site for L-1 ID Solutions, the company to which the State of Texas sole-sourced their Live Scan fingerprinting collection network. IBT collects fingerprints of teachers and others who must receive fingerprints as part of the licensing, certification, or employment processes of Texas state agencies.
According to the indictment, Cuellar worked for IBT from March 10, 2008 until July, 27, 2008. What isn’t reflected in the indictment or in any of the press coverage I’ve found to date is that Cuellar was on probation for theft when she was hired by IBT, having plead guilty to theft charges the previous November.
The federal indictment is interesting reading. During the short time that she worked for IBT, Cuellar allegedly stole “thousands” of applications for fingerprint background checks, each containing the applicant’s “name, address, date of birth, social security number, driver license information, and other identifying information.” Cuellar allegedly “used, gave away, or traded victims’ information so that members of the conspiracy could fraudulently obtain credit cards, goods, and services in victims’ names.”
The “members of the conspiracy caused credit cards and merchandise to be shipped or mailed to various addresses in the Waco area in victims’ names.” According to the indictment, Cuellar and her friends opened JC Penny’s cards, bought Dell computers, and even opened a Green Mountain Energy electricity account at the residence where some of the group was staying.
Several law enforcement agencies are still trying to identify additional victims. The McLennan County Sherrif’s Office has created a webpage and hotline for “Reporting for L-1 ID Solutions Security Breach” in order to aid victims of this easily-preventable data breach.
Sheez. Did I mention that before IBT ever gave Cuellar access to these poor individuals’ identity information, she had already plead guilty and was serving probation for theft on a case out of Waco?
It isn’t clear whether IBT simply failed to conduct a background check on Cuellar, ran an inadequate background check (perhaps only relying on the incomplete state or “national” criminal records databases available online), or ran a background check that included their local county’s records and chose to ignore the resulting records.
That the State of Texas’ background check vendor may have failed to conduct the most basic background check on a potential employee is blindingly ironic. It is no doubt causing blinding headaches for Cuellar’s victims.
By the way, Cuellar was later charged with theft by check in another case, which was dismissed in August of last year after Cuellar presented the DA’s office with…
wait for it…
“forgery affidavits on the checks.”
Intelius, the online data broker notorius for selling information most people would consider personal to anyone who wants it, has released an iPhone application that is a must-have for the on-the-go stalker.
Their Date Check app is touted as a way for users to check out potential hook ups while they are still sitting next next to you at the bar. For a few bucks, you can use Date Check to check out your prospective paramour’s background – criminal history, address… even an asset check – by providing as little initial information as their cell phone number.
This is an insanely dangerous idea for at least two reasons. First, all criminal records databases miss a lot of records. A LOT. This means that anyone relying on Intelius to determine whether the Prince or Princess Charming they just met at the monster truck after-party has a criminal record are potentially missing important information. The danger in this, as in relying on any criminal records database, is that users may rely on the information to make critical decisions… with potentially devastating consequences.
Of even more concern to me about this app, however, is the giant potential for abuse. This app obviously doesn’t have any way of measuring the intent or goodwill of the user. Want that cute blonde’s address so you can show up at her front door to convince her that you are soul mates? This is the app for you! Have a more nefarious intent? No problem!
This is such a bad and dangerous idea that I won’t even post a link to their site. Google it and you’ll see what a bad idea this really is.