FBI arrests lecturer for lying about credentials

Various media sources reported last week that the FBI arrested William G. Hillar, 66, who for a decade posed as a retired Green Berets colonel with wide-ranging military expertise and established himself as a lecturer, workshop leader and trainer in the public and private sectors. Hillar was charged in the U.S. District Court in Maryland with one count of mail fraud for payment he received from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in July 2010, according to published reports. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years if convicted. News reports quoted U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein saying that “Hillar was living a lie and based his entire career on experiences he did not have and credentials he did not earn. He was never a colonel, never served in the U.S. Army, never was deployed to exotic locales and never received training in counter-terrorism and psychological warfare.”

Media reports further stated that Hillar’s alleged deception was exposed in November 2010 after several Monterey Institute of International Studies students questioned the authenticity of his military exploits and knowledge of international human trafficking. Their suspicions prompted the Institute to ask Hillar to document his background. But Hillar cut off all communications and took down his “Bill Hillar Training” Web site. Immediately after Hillar became the subject of a criminal investigation, the Institute said it was changing its policy to require full background checks on lecturers and anyone involved in teaching.

According to media reports, Hillar’s client list included approximately 40 agencies and schools across the country, ranging from FBI and army units to local and state police agencies between Idaho and Georgia. Federal officials said evidence shows that Hillar was paid more than $100,000 for teaching and speaking engagements during his facade.

So what was Hillar’s actual military record? News reports said that from 1962 to 1970 he served in the Coast Guard as an enlisted sailor and reached the rank of radarman 3, according to FBI Special Agent David Rodski.

Hillar said he plans to return to teaching once released, according to media reports.

February 2nd, 2011|Fraud|

Beware of background investigation companies that offer FBI NCIC checks

All you need to do is type in a few key words into Google and headlines pop up promising easy access to FBI criminal records. But when you click on the link, it goes nowhere or to a background screening company’s Web site which then states that it searches public records only, and makes no further mention of the teasing lead.

And except for a few non-government entities, such ones performing authorized criminal justice functions under contract with law enforcement agencies, entities whose purpose is to provide information to authorized agencies to facilitate the apprehension of fugitives or locate missing persons and stolen property, or similar objectives, and federally chartered banking institutions, their bank subsidiaries and direct affiliates, the records are off-limits to the public. Of course, an individual can request his/her own record, typically for a personal review, to challenge the information on file, to meet a requirement for adopting a child in the U.S. or internationally, to satisfy a mandate to live, work, or travel in a foreign country, or to obtain certain professional licenses.

So exactly what is the FBI’s National Crime Information Center? The NCIC, as it is commonly known, is the United States’ central database for tracking crime related information. Maintained by the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, the NCIC is interlinked with similar systems held by each state. Data is received from federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, along with railroad police, and non-law enforcement agencies, such as state and federal motor vehicle registration and licensing authorities.

The NCIC was launched January 27, 1967 with five files and 356,784 records. By the end of 2009, it amassed more than 15 million active records in 19 files, separated into seven property files containing records of stolen articles, boats, guns, license plates, parts, securities, and vehicles, and 12 person-related files containing information in connection with supervised releases, national sex offender registry, foreign fugitives, immigration violators, missing persons, protection orders, unidentified persons, U.S. Secret Service protective list, gangs, known or suspected terrorists, wanted persons, and identity theft. Also a part of the system is the Interstate Identification Index, which provides images that can be associated with NCIC records to help identify people and property items.

The database is not infallible. Its many critics say that the underfunded system is limited in content, contains errors and has outdated information. But the black market for NCIC records is flourishing, despite risks of prison time and financial penalties. While in most instances the motivation for misuse is monetary gain, in an extreme example of personal incentive, a former law enforcement officer in Arizona obtained NCIC information from three other officers and used it to track down and murder his girlfriend.

January 26th, 2011|Educational Series|

Resources for information about fraud

Fraud is defined as any act, expression, omission, or concealment calculated to deceive another to his or her disadvantage. Fraud can be committed through many methods, including mail, wire, telephone, written instruments, and the Internet.  State and federal statutes criminalize fraud, but not all cases rise to the level of criminality. Prosecutors have the discretion in determining which cases to pursue. Victims may also seek redress in civil court. Fraud must be proved by showing that the defendant’s actions involved five separate elements: (1) false statement of a material fact, (2) knowledge by the defendant that the statement is untrue, (3) intent by the defendant to deceive the alleged victim, (4) justifiable reliance by the alleged victim on the statement, and (5) injury to the alleged victim as a result.

Below are several Web sites that provide information about various types of fraud, including tips for protecting yourself and filing formal complaints.

July 25th, 2010|Educational Series, Fraud|
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