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Best of 2013

On the heels of our first year anniversary celebration last month, NJLJ Best of 2013Maragell Corporate Investigations was honored by our peers in the legal community with a New Jersey Law Journal Best of 2013 Bronze medal for Best Expert Witness (Computer Forensics). Voting was limited to lawyers and their professional staffs, making this honor especially gratifying.

Maragell, which comes from the Old Testament word for spy, provides a wide range of corporate investigative services, including computer forensics, background checks, due diligence research, expert witness services, and employee theft and internal fraud investigations.

The Maragell team extends its sincere gratitude to all those who voted BEST-OF-2013-LOGO-(regular)for the firm, and we look forward to providing many more years of superior service and expertise.

First Anniversary Attendees Learn How to Use Investigative Databases

HADDONFIELD, NJ – OCTOBER 10, 2013 – Maragell Corporate Investigations celebrated its first year in business on October 10th with a ribbon cutting ceremony and interactive community open house. The company, which until 2012 operated as the U.S. office of Intelysis Corp., benefited from an upturn in the region’s economy. “We saw a marked increase in investment activity by hedge fund and venture capital clients, which use our services to conduct background checks on prospective portfolio companies,” said Jeffrey Brenner, Esq., NJLPI, the company’s founder. “Our team was also brought into several complex computer forensic investigations, including theft of intellectual property, bankruptcy fraud, and employee violations of restrictive covenants,” he added.

As part of the open house festivities, Maragell’s staff demonstrated several insider investigative techniques. Team members accepted computer hard drives from attendees and demonstrated how  data the users thought was permanently deleted could still be retrieved. Then, using U.S. Department of Defense data destruction standards, they wiped the hard drives, enabling them to be recycled without fear of data loss or identity theft.

Brenner and his team also amazed guests by broadening their understanding of the power of the Internet, showing that many of the same tools used to locate to locate lost friends and loved ones can be used to track down missing persons, debtors, and witnesses. Similar strategies are also used to conduct pre-employment background checks. Maragell’s researchers demonstrated how these checks are conducted and why they are more of an art form than an exercise in data input/output. Combining multiple sources of public information, investigative databases, social media sites, and Google, together with data provided by the subject (in this case one of Maragell’s employees), the demonstration revealed how a PI reads the tea leaves and assimilates the information to create a complete, and accurate, picture of the subject.

Maragell completed the day with a demonstration on how computer forensic experts hunt for evidence of wrongdoing through the use of keyword searches and deleted emails. Of note was the fact that words such as “noncompete” and “breach” which might be expected to return relevant information about an employee’s plans to violate his or her contract, were shown to appear in many forms and locations having nothing to do with the facts of a case. “Poor keyword choices can cost a client thousands of dollars in eDiscovery costs and attorney review time, and we make every effort to avoid this pitfall with highly strategic searching,” said Brenner.

Not a Secret: Investigators to Celebrate 1st Anniversary

Maragell to Celebrate its One Year Anniversary

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Noon to 7:00 p.m.

Maragell, LLC, will celebrate its first year in business on October 10, 2013 with a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house.  Founded by Jeffrey Brenner, Esq., NJLPI, Maragell is located on Mechanic Street in the heart of the historic borough of Haddonfield.  During its inaugural year, Maragell was fueled by an upturn in the region’s economy as its clients increased their use of its investigative services in connection with their hiring and investment practices.  Maragell was also kept busy with several complex computer forensic investigations through its partnerships with several top-tier accounting firms, eDiscovery vendors, and the region’s major law firms.  In addition to the ribbon cutting ceremony sponsored by the Partnership for Haddonfield a number of special activities are scheduled throughout the day, including free investigative tutorials.

Open House Highlights Include:

Noon

Meet and Greet (and Eat!)

1:00 p.m.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony by the Partnership for Haddonfield

2:00 p.m.

Keyword search demonstration

Learn how to get better search results

3:00 p.m.

Background check demonstration

Conduct a pre-employment screening with us, live

4:00 p.m.

Deleted email recovery demonstration

See where the data resides on your computer

5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Networking and cocktails

Luncheon and evening Hors d’oeuvres by
Ludovico’s and Marie’s Sandwich Shop

Desserts by
Hollingsworth’s Cookies and Sweet T’s Bake Shop

RSVP by October 7 to celebrate@maragell.com

Corporate Investigations Firm Maragell, LLC Finds Its Work is an Economic Indicator

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Andrew Becker

Phone: 856.449.5220

Email: abeckernj@gmail.com

Increased Hiring Has Led to Increased Background Check Work for Local Firm

Haddonfield, NJ – July 15, 2012 – There is fresh evidence that the nation’s slow, steady climb out of the Great Recession is picking up steam, and it comes from a source for whom evidence is paramount: corporate investigations firm Maragell, LLC. “We’ve seen our venture capital clients light up the board with new investments, deep-dive due diligence investigations for manager-level jobs have increased in the corporate marketplace, and even our hedge fund clients, which have been rather dormant for the past three years, have begun investments with new managers,” said the Haddonfield, New Jersey firm’s managing principal, Jeffrey S. Brenner, Esq., NJLPI.

Maragell recently marked six months in business after forming late in 2012, spinning off from the US operations of Intelysis. Its clients include lawyers, accountants, hedge funds, venture capitalists, insurance claim specialists, and both small businesses and Fortune 100 companies. The core legal and IT professional staff previously worked together under Mr. Brenner’s leadership at Intelysis. Maragell is based in New Jersey, but covers the world through strategic relationships with skilled investigators on several continents.

Mr. Brenner, who worked as a trial and business transactions lawyer before transitioning into his investigative career, sees the investigative industry as a bell-weather of the economy. “There are many reliable indicators about new hiring, but one that is sometimes overlooked is background check activity. My colleagues and I have observed over our decade in the industry that we could predict the health of the economy by the number of new investigations firms like Maragell were conducting on behalf VCs, hedge funds, and family offices,” he said.

Deteriorating economic conditions were apparent in the investigative industry’s ebbs and flows several years ago, as well. “As soon as Bernie Madoff confessed in 2008, we saw an immediate drop off in business from our Wall Street clients, followed closely by our C-suite clients,” said Brenner. “Today, we are hearing from clients from coast to coast asking for investigative background checks on start-up tech companies, real estate investments, international money managers, and a variety of C-level executives who will be heading expansions of several of our clients’ business divisions.”

Maragell also has seen an increase in the use of its computer/digital forensics services by its legal clients. According to Brenner, who is a frequent lecturer on the topic, the legal community in Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey has been rapidly increasing its use of forensic investigations in employment law and business divorce matters. “The power of knowing what an employee or business partner has done with his or her computer for an extended period is an enormous advantage in court,” said Brenner.

PIs Reveal Just How Easy it Can Be to Steal Your Identity

For those of you who think your personal information is safe, our colleagues in New York teamed up with NBC News to show just how easy it is to exploit our identities.  Watch the video here:

http://video.msnbc.msn.com/dateline/51320223

Every day we use many of the same tools and techniques featured in the news report to perform background checks, due diligence investigations, skip traces and other services for businesses, law firms and insurers.    It is because so many people are careless with their information, or worse, think others are so interested in their lives they purposefully post it, that we can empower employers and litigants with this information.

So you don’t become a victim, here are some Internet practice points:  Lock down your Facebook page, create anonymous email addresses to post comments on articles/news stories, use fictitious screen names for use on Pinterest, Spotify, Instagram, and other social media sites so the information cannot be linked back to you—your followers don’t care what your real name is (and you can always tell your friends how to find you), if you use a dating website, use sites that are not open to the public (i.e. non-members should not be able to view your page), sign up for credit monitoring (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax all offer the service at competitive prices), and always keep your birth date off the web.

Brenner to Present at PBI Business Divorce Seminars

 

 

Jeffrey Brenner, managing principal of Maragell, LLC, has been requested by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute to serve as a panelist at its full-day Business Divorce seminar that will take place on several dates across the Commonwealth:  March 4th (Pittsburgh), March 7th (Mechanicsburg) and March 11th (Philadelphia).

He will join a panel of experts in fields of corporate law, litigation, and business valuation.  Brenner will cover issues relating to the role IT plays in a business separation, and the preservation and analysis of electronically stored information for use in litigation, including data stored on smartphones, tablets, and cloud-based applications.

Brenner specializes in computer forensics and corporate investigations and has been retained by numerous businesses, insurance companies, governmental agencies, and school districts to assist with their electronic investigation needs.

The seminar has been approved for 6.0 PA CLE substantive credits including ethics. For additional information on the event, or to register, click here.

 

Brenner to Present at Camden Bar Cyber Bullying Seminar

Jeffrey Brenner, managing principal of Maragell, LLC, has been requested by the Camden County Bar Association to serve as a panelist at its Cyber Bullying seminar that will take place on February 21, 2013 from 4 – 6:15 p.m. at Tavistock Country Club in Haddonfield.

He will join a panel of experts in school law and civil rights, which include: Kevin M. Costello, Esq., William S. Donio, Esq., Gerald “Buzz” Mingin, PhD, and moderator Craig David Becker, Esq.

Brenner will cover issues relating to detecting and proving cyber bullying as it relates to the use of computers, smartphones, and social media outlets.

Brenner specializes in computer forensics and corporate investigations and has been retained by numerous school districts to assist with their electronic investigation needs, both in the case of staff members and students.

The seminar has been approved for 2.0 PA CLE substantive credits and 2.4 MCLE credits. For additional information on the event, or to register, click here.

Welcome Our Newly Appointed New Jersey Certified Paralegal

Deb Myerson Accepting NJCP Certificate

Deb Myerson and Becky Reedy

Deb Myerson, paralegal at Maragell and Vice President of the South Jersey Paralegal Association, was appointed as a New Jersey Certified Paralegal at the December 4, 2012 South Jersey Paralegal Association dinner.  In order to become a New Jersey Certified Paralegal, Deb was required to earn a degree in Paralegal Studies as well as establishing to the Association a proficiency in completing substantive paralegal work.  The designation requires all Certified Paralegals to stay abreast of issues affecting the paralegal community and to complete twelve continuing education credits every two years. Deb earned her Associates degree in Paralegal Studies from Camden County College in 2005 and went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Paralegal Studies from Peirce College in June 2012.  She has devoted her entire professional career to the field of investigative research and serves as one of Maragell’s department leaders.

New FCRA Forms Available From Maragell, LLC

Beginning January 1, 2013, employers must use the new Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) disclosure forms developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has now become the lead regulatory body for compliance with the federal FCRA.FCRA

When an employer conducts a background check on a prospective employee, or even for promotion or retention purposes, it must comply with the FCRA.  The basic requirements are that before a “consumer report” can be obtained (which can be as simple as a request for a criminal record search, to as complex as interviewing co-workers, neighbors, coupled with civil litigation searches and credit history analaysis), the employer must obtain their written permission.  The notice must be in writing and separate from the employment application.  If however, the consumer report is being obtained as part of an internal investigation, the FCRA does not require prior consent, but does require compliance with other provisions as discussed below.

If the consumer report surfaces derogatory information, prior to taking any adverse action based upon information in the consumer report, if it has not done so already (as in the case of an internal investigation) the employer must give the employee a copy of the Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the name, address and phone number of the company that supplied the report as well as a statement that the company that supplied the report did not make the adverse decision and cannot give specific reasons for it.  These procedural items provide the subject with the ability to examine and, if appropriate, challenge the report.

In our experience, we  found many errors in the public record, including erroneous entries at the criminal and civil court levels, the credit bureaus, and even the social security administration.  Without conducting an analysis of the information and comparing it to other objective pieces of evidence, such data entry errors can impugne the character of an otherwise law-abiding job prospect.  The opportunity to challenge such results, especially if the consumer report is nothing more than a “data dump,” can mean the difference between getting a job, and perennially being turned down for one because of an erroneous record entry.

The revised forms are available for download here:

FCRA Consumer Notice 2013 (Summary-of-Your-Rights)

FCRA User Notice 2013

 

 

 

Maragell Helps Fights Senior Fraud

November 1, 2012

Earlier this month, Jeff Brenner, Esq., NJLPI, provided tips to the residents at Lionsgate, Voorhees, NJ on how to protect themselves from becoming a victim of fraud.  Recommendations included: limiting the amount of personal information provided to healthcare providers and asking how such data will be stored, signing up for credit monitoring services, shredding documents with personally identifiable information, conversing with a trusted friend before donating money to “worthy” cause, and always logging into your bank’s or credit card company’s home page on the web rather than clicking through an email link requesting personal information.  During the event, the audience eagerly shared its stories of how difficult it was at times to get a live person on the telephone in order to confirm their credit report, and the volume of phone calls from charitable organizations seeking donations.   The event was sponsored by the Jewish Community Foundation, Inc.