Interview Techniques By Witness Personality Type: Part I, The Narcissist.


An often requested service for investigators is to interview witnesses in order to obtain written or recorded statements.

To that end, a successful interview is often based on the investigator’s approach and the better she can assess the subject’s personality, the more effective the interview. Fortunately, most people are cooperative, fairly truthful and possess a relatively normal personality.  There have been quite a number of times, however, when we’ve had to extract information from people whose base nature or personality has been overwhelmingly outside of the normal range.

With these type subjects, it’s the investigator’s people skills that determine whether she will prevail.

In our multiple-part series, we begin this week with tips for interviewing a subject with a narcissistic personality. Because of their compulsive, detail-oriented personality bent, narcissists can actually make very good witnesses – if you know how to handle them.

Definition of a Narcissistic Personality:

Most experts use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose mental conditions and personalities.

DSM-5 criteria for a narcissistic personality include these features:

  • Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerating your achievements and talents
  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
  • Requiring constant admiration
  • Having a sense of entitlement
  • Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
  • Taking advantage of others to get what you want
  • Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others

Description of a Narcissist (from Psychology Today):

Narcissism is often interpreted in popular culture as a person who’s in love with him or herself. It is more accurate to characterize the pathological narcissist as someone who’s in love with an idealized self-image, which they project in order to avoid feeling (and being seen as) the real, disenfranchised, wounded self.

Having the above knowledge, a field investigator should be able to quickly assess the subject’s personality during the pre-interview casual conversation we engage in with witnesses to determine where they are “coming from”.

If the investigator has ascertained that she is dealing with a narcissist, the three best basic approaches are:

  1. Provide positive feedback throughout the interview without being disingenuous and overly solicitous.  A narcissist needs to be constantly recognized but, is also suspicious of people who are being nice.
  2. Base the account from the narcissist’s perspective.  As with most people, but more so with a narcissist, people recall best when mentally positioned (though guided imagery) to recall an event from where they were at the moment of occurrence.
  3. Let the subject talk.  At some point, with mild encouragement, the narcissist, because of the compulsive component of this specific personality, will give you the information necessary to complete a thorough statement.  By his very narcissistic nature, he is exacting with details.  Also, we’ve found that engaging a narcissist in minor physical tasks (such as drawing a diagram of the location of accident or arranging site photos) during interviews, helps defuse excess energy and OCD-like behavior.

In the next Bulletin in this series, we will cover, “The Empath” – Does she give a true account of the incident or is she wrapped in the emotion of the moment, clouding her recall?

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Top Five Real-Time Voice Translators

Advancements in technology and easy accessibility to devices have accelerated the process of global communication, enabling us to communicate in different languages instantly and without having to acquire multilingual proficiency, thereby increasing our ability to verbally translate information in real-time.

For legal and law enforcement professionals, the capability now to aid and converse with victims, interview potential witnesses, experts and so forth, is virtually unlimited, given the near elimination of language barriers.

To this end, below we have listed the top 5 voice translator devices available on the market today.

1. Enence

  • Rapid Real-Time Translation – at 1.5 times the rate of real-time conversation
  • Supports 36 languages
  • Only available for online purchase

2. Pocketalk

  • 82 different languages
  • Built-in camera translates signs (street, traffic, etc.) and even menus, in a snap
  • Two-way feature

3. Langogo

  • 104 languages
  • Can record speeches and presentations and translate them into your native language as you work
  • Compatible with local sim
  • Hotspot feature

4. Cheetah

  • Long battery life- can stay on standy by for up to 180 days
  • Easy switch from one language to another
  • Easy to use for beginners

5. Pulomi

  • Translates 52 languages
  • 1 to 2 second reaction time
  • Excellent speaker quality- cuts out background noise

Especially in the legal and law enforcement fields, communication is absolutely key. While human translators are still most often employed as go-betweens in providing translated information, a) advances in comm technologies point to future majority use of machine translators (faster, broader dictionaries and clearly, extensive multilingual capability), and b) humans are still the best judges of one to one communication- what is said, what is left unsaid, what is deferred or deflected, etc. that induces unique follow up questions that occur best without the interruption of a middleman interpreter. Two-way speech translation devices have been in use in the military and medical fields for well over a decade; business is now realizing the benefits of immediate translation in multiple languages that can be accomplished by the individual alone.

BNI Operatives, situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

New NYS Laws Taking Effect in 2023

(We’re introducing a new feature of the Beacon Bulletin- the Beacon Blast- brief, to the point and informational, with appropriate links. Beginning today.)

Minimum wage increase

Minimum wage in upstate New York is set to go into effect on December 31, 2022. Workers outside of New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County will see the minimum wage go from $13.20 to $14.20.

NYS Paid Family Leave

Effective January 1, this law adds siblings to the definition of family member for paid family leave.

Electric Vehicle Rights Act

Effective January 21, the Electric Vehicle Rights Act prohibits homeowners’ associations from preventing homeowners from installing EV charging stations on their properties.

Pedestrian and bicyclist safety

Effective January 11, this law requires new drivers to learn about pedestrian and bicyclist safety awareness as part of their pre-licensing course.

Polling places

This law allows registered voters to cast their ballot at the wrong polling place as long as they are in the correct county and State Assembly district. It goes into effect January 1.

I hope and trust this new feature, the Beacon Blast, has been useful to our readers. Look for more Blasts coming your way this year, with up-to-date information and no editorialization (well, maybe just a few extra words when called for…).

BNI Operatives; situationally aware.

As always, be safe.

Happy 246th Birthday, America!

It’s the July 4th weekend, Independence Day here in the United States.  Regardless of where you call home around our globe, this is the day to recognize the unique freedoms and opportunities that exist in the U.S. as nowhere else in the world.

These freedoms, liberties and virtually limitless opportunities that we enjoy didn’t come about effortlessly. The history of America’s struggle for independence after centuries of foreign rule is well known.

The founders of America led with classic leadership traits of sheer determination, unshakeable perseverance and an unwavering commitment to the cause of freedom that meant risking everything.  Famous Declaration of Independence signer, John Hancock, during one of the formative Continental Congress meetings, referring to the various states, reminded the gathered group of patriotic founders that they must all hang together.  Astute and characteristically ascerbic, Benjamin Franklin responded with one of his classic quotes: “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”  Leadership, at that point in our history, meant risking it allL

I still believe, perhaps more strongly than ever today because we exist in times of expanding communism and predatory war, that the United States of America is not only an exceptional country but one with limitless potential to realize the concept as originally imagined- a land of innate and codified freedoms, and one where individual liberties must be the primary consideration. Freedom is not easily attainable, given the human propensity to form governments and ones that eventually tip the balance of power away from the individual. But anything worth having is worth fighting for- requiring strong, dedicated leadership, and very importantly, those willing to engage in a fight that lasts until the objectives are achieved.

As we enjoy the freedom to congregate and exchange our diverse viewpoints among family, friends and community this Independence weekend, let’s take a moment to thank those who stand willing and prepared to preserve our liberty. The freedoms celebrated in the United States of America today are preserved by those who have given, and those who are willing to give, their very lives for ours. God bless our defenders- our military servicemembers (those who’ve passed on, veteran and active duty) and our law enforcment officers.

On a personal note, as I write this article, I think of my own very American story. As the daughter of immigrants, the last of seven siblings and the only one born here in the United States, when I asked my father why he and my mother decided to emigrate to America- my father responded, “Why else would I leave everything and everyone I’ve ever know but to give my family its best chance at freedom, happiness and opportunity?” That is the promise of America and it delivers; our job is to preserve this declaration of human rights. Wishing you all a happy, safe and joyous Independence Day! – Lina M. Maini. Co-founder, VPAA

“The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.” –Thomas Jefferson

“Where liberty dwells, there is my country.” –Ben Franklin

“Freedom is never given, it is won.” –A Philip Randolph

“We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” –William Faulkner

“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

NTSB Recommendations For Emergency Responder Safety Re: Electric Vehicle Accident Fires

As sales of electric vehicles (EVs) climb, so do concerns for the safety of first and second responders to EV-involved accidents. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated several incidents of lithium-ion battery fires and reignition fires that prompted safety concern for these responders to EV crash sites, issuing their report, “Safety Risks to Emergency Responders from Lithium-Ion Battery Fires in Electric Vehicles“, discussed below.

The NTSB conducted investigations of four electric vehicle battery fires (in California and Florida) and reviewed manufacturer emergency responder guidance materials for crash fires. Electric vehicle fires caused by crash damage to a vehicle’s high-voltage lithium-ion battery or an internal failure of the battery, pose risks of fire, fire reignition and exposure to high voltage (electric shock) due to the stored energy in the battery. The NTSB’ review of the EV manufacturers guidance pointed to a lack of clarification on how to properly extinguish litium-ion battery fires, and the proper post-accident neutralization of the reserve energy contained in these batteries that could lead to fire reignitions.

The NTSB released the following recommendations in January 2021 to 22 manufacturers of electric vehicles equipped with high-voltage lithium-ion batteries:

  • Model your emergency response guides on International Organization for Standardization standard 17840, as included in SAE International recommended practice J2990.
  • Incorporate vehicle-specific information in your emergency response guides on:
    • Fighting high-voltage lithium-ion battery fires.
    • Mitigating thermal runaway and the risk of high-voltage lithium-ion battery reignition.
    • Mitigating the risks associated with stranded energy in high-voltage lithium-ion batteries, both during the initial emergency response and before moving a damaged electric vehicle from the scene.
    • Safely storing an electric vehicle that has a damaged high-voltage lithium-ion battery.

Thus far, EV manufacturers have responded as follows:

Response Summaries (Detailed Responses):


 BMW North America LLC – Open – Acceptable Response

 BYD Motors – Open – Acceptable Response

 Stellantis (Formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobile US LLC) – Open – Acceptable Response

 General Motors – Open – Acceptable Response

 Ford Motor Company – Open – Acceptable Response

 Gillig Corporation – Open – Acceptable Response

 American Honda Motor Company, Inc. – Closed – Acceptable Action – 05/25/2022

 Hyundai Motor America – Closed – Acceptable Action – 05/25/2022

 Karma Automotive – Open – Await Response

 Kia Motors America, Inc. – Open – Acceptable Response

 Mercedes-Benz USA LLC – Open – Acceptable Response

 Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. – Closed – Acceptable Action – 11/04/2021

 Nissan Group of North America, Inc. – Open – Acceptable Response

 Nova Bus Corporation – Open – Await Response

 Porsche Cars North America, Inc. – Closed – Acceptable Action – 05/25/2022

 Proterra, Inc. – Closed – Acceptable Action – 11/04/2021

 Subaru of America, Inc. – Open – Acceptable Response – 11/10/2021

 Tesla Motors – Open – Acceptable Response

 Toyota Motor North America, Inc. – Open – Acceptable Response

 Van Hool NV – Closed – Acceptable Action – 11/10/2021

 Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. – Closed – Acceptable Action – 05/25/2022

 Volvo Cars of North America, Inc. – Closed – Acceptable Action – 11/10/2021

Electric vehicle accidents present a growing field within that of crash investigations; one we will monitor and continue to be involved with and grow our body of knowledge. Updates will be posted as significant developments occur.

BNI Operatives; Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

What’s In The NCIC Database? Access Your Own Record

Accessing the National Crime Information Center

The NCIC, National Crime Information Center, under the authority of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), established on January 27, 1967, is a centralized digital index of criminal justice information (i.e.- criminal record history information, fugitives, stolen properties, missing persons). All records in NCIC are protected from unauthorized access through stringent administrative, physical, and technical safeguards.

Who has access to the NCIC?

The NCIC is available to:

  1. Employees of federal, state, and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies have access to NCIC, and the live database is accessible to them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Also, every agency that participates in the maintenance of this database is required to follow specific guidelines for ensuring that records are accurate and updated in a timely fashion, and
  2. Employers can only access NCIC data in certain regulated circumstances, such as conducting pre-employment screenings for positions that involve working with children or dependent adults.

What records does the NCIC maintain?

The NCIC databases report both arrests and convictions. The database is permanent, so information on all cases never goes away. The NCIC database includes 22 files: 15 person files and seven property files.

Person files:

  • Missing Person File: Records on people—including children—who have been reported missing to law enforcement and there is a reasonable concern for their safety.
  • Foreign Fugitive File: Records on people wanted by another country for a crime that would be a felony if it were committed in the United States.
  • Identity Theft File: Records containing descriptive and other information that law enforcement personnel can use to determine if an individual is a victim of identity theft or if the individual might be using a false identity.
  • Immigration Violator File: Records on criminal aliens whom immigration authorities have deported and aliens with outstanding administrative warrants of removal.
  • Protection Order File: Records on people against whom protection orders have been issued.
  • Supervised Release File: Records on people on probation, parole, or supervised release or released on their own recognizance or during pre-trial sentencing.
  • Unidentified Person File: Records on unidentified deceased people, living persons who are unable to verify their identities, unidentified victims of catastrophes, and recovered body parts. The file cross-references unidentified bodies against records in the Missing Persons File.
  • U.S. Secret Service Protective File: Records containing names and other information on people who are believed to pose a threat to the U.S. president and/or others afforded protection by the U.S. Secret Service.
  • Gang File: Records on violent gang groups and their members.
  • Known or Appropriately Suspected Terrorist File: Records on known or appropriately suspected terrorists.
  • Wanted Person File: Records on criminals (including juveniles who may have been tried as adults) for whom a federal warrant or a felony or misdemeanor warrant is outstanding.
  • National Sex Offender Registry File: Records on people who are required to register in a jurisdiction’s sex offender registry.
  • National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Denied Transaction File: Records on people who have been determined to be classified as a “forbidden person” according to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and were denied as a result of a NICS background check.
  • Violent Person File: Once fully populated with data from the users, this file will contain records of persons with a violent criminal history and persons who have previously threatened law enforcement.
  • Protective Interest File:  Records of individuals whom an authorized agency reasonably believes, based on its law enforcement investigation, might pose a threat to the physical safety of protectees or their immediate families.

Property files:

  • Article File: Records on stolen articles and lost public safety, homeland security, and critical infrastructure identification.
  • Boat File: Records on stolen boats.
  • Gun File: Records on stolen, lost, and recovered weapons and weapons that are designed to expel a projectile by air, carbon dioxide, or explosive action and have been used in the commission of crimes.
  • License Plate File: Records on stolen license plates and vehicles.
  • Securities File: Records on serially numbered stolen, embezzled, used for ransom, or counterfeit securities.
  • Vehicle and Boat Parts File: Records on serially numbered stolen vehicle or boat parts for which the serial number may have been altered or removed.
  • Vehicle File: Records on stolen vehicles (and their license plates), vehicles involved in the commission of crimes, or vehicles that may be taken from the owner by force based on federally issued court order.

How can I get my own NCIC record, if one exists?

Contact your local law enforcement agency. Local law enforcement agencies such as the police department, sheriff’s department and state police have access to the NCIC database. Tell the agency’s staff that you want a copy of your NCIC report. Attorneys can obtain authorization from their clients to access NCIC records on their clients behalves.

Show law enforcement personnel a valid ID. Examples of valid ID include your driver’s license, Social Security card or passport. The law enforcement agency will also fingerprint you.

Tangentially, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, joining 20 other states and Washington D.C., issued its first gender neutral driver’s licenses Friday, June 3, 2022, that allows people to mark “X” rather than male or female under a new state law that officially takes effect June 24, 2022. If, however, you are involved in a vehicle stop by a police officer, they will run your plates, license and registration through the NCIC – as they should – for outstanding warrants and stolen vehicle checks. The NCIC databases are not gender neutral.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Leaving Money Behind? Check With Your State’s Unclaimed Funds Department

NYS Unclaimed Funds

(For the purposes of this article, we are referencing the process of collecting unclaimed funds only with the office of the New York State Comptroller. Each state has such a department; simply query “uncollected funds <enter your state>”)

In New York State alone, as of today’s date, May 27, 2022, the State is holding $7 billion dollars in unclaimed funds for individuals and businesses. The official NYS Office of the Comptroller site states that, “Every day , New York State returns $1.5 million to those who file claims here”.

One can search for unclaimed funds for:

Deceased Owners/Estates
Multiple Owners
On Behalf of Another Person

To make it easier for our readers to search for their own potential unclaimed funds, below are direct links (for individuals) and information on how to collect these funds.

Claims for Individuals

You can submit claims for individuals online or by mail.


Enter your name in the Search for Individual box on our Search for Lost Money page.

Submit Your Claim


  • Select the item you wish to claim from the search results.
  • Follow the step-by-step directions and prompts that appear onscreen after your Search.
  • Based on your answers and the information we have on file, we’ll let you know if your claim was successful or not.

By Mail

If you can’t submit your claim online – or choose not to – follow these steps:

  • Complete the information requested on the “Mail Claim Form” page that appears after you select a name from the search results or select the “Mail Claim Form” link.
  • Enter your full name and current address to generate a claim form.
  • Print the form.
  • Sign the form and have your signature notarized by a licensed notary public.
  • Attach the Required Documentation.
  • Mail to:
    Office of the State Comptroller
    Office of Unclaimed Funds
    110 State Street
    Albany, New York 12236

When you get your check, please cash it as soon as possible. You have until December 31 of the following calendar year to cash it. For example, a check issued on March 1, 2014, may be cashed until December 31, 2015. If you don’t cash your check, it will be reported as unclaimed funds and you’ll have to file a new claim.

Important Note: There are many third-party companies out there – with very convincing government agency mirror sites – that will conduct searches for uncollected funds for you, and several will even process the funds claims- for a fee and or in trade for your personal data. Don’t. 1. The process is very simple – and free – for you to search and claim your own money, and 2. I believe we’ve all had enough of sharing our personal identificantion information with unnecessary parties.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Changes to Credit Reporting in 2022/2023

Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies

Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion have announced that effective July 1, 2022, they will no longer include medical debt that was paid after it was sent to collections on consumer credit reports.  In addition, the time period before unpaid medical collection debt appears on a credit report will be increased from 6 months to one year.

Also, the companies announced that beginning in 2023, they will only report medical debt in excess of $500.  Reportedly, these changes will eliminate approximately 70% of medical collection debt entries from consumer credit reports.

Department of Veteran Affairs

Earlier this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it was applying new standards for reporting outstanding medical bills to consumer reporting companies.

Under the new rules, the VA will only report medical debt that meets all of the following criteria:

  • The VA has exhausted all other debt collection efforts,
  • The VA has determined the individual responsible is not catastrophically disabled or entitled to free medical care from the VA, and
  • The outstanding debt is over $25. (This appears contrary to the No Surprises Act per the above information from the Big Three conumer credit reporting agencies. We are awaiting confirmation on the VA’s compliance with the new reporting laws vis a vis the $500 minimum debt threshhold for reporting purposes.)

Additionally, under consideration in Congress now are the following proposed changes in consumer credit reporting:

Employer Restrictions

Under the new guidelines, employers would no longer be allowed to use a credit score to determine eligibility for employment. Other businesses that use credit reports to determine service usage such as utility and insurance companies are also under review to disallow consumer credit reporting as part of the decision making prcoess.

Amount of Time Negative Information Remains On Credit Reports

Currently, delinquent accounts remain on the report for seven years. Under the new proposal, information would only stay on the report for four years. However, bankruptcies could still be reported for seven years. 

We’ll keep an eye on developments in consumer credit reporting changes and update our readers as these changes occur.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Asset Searches For Judgment Collections

Asset Searches for Judgment Collection

Winning a monetary damages award is a good thing; collecting on the judgment, however, may rapidly turn that joy to frustration. The courts rarely compel debtors to pay their debts so when the losing party fails to satisfy a judgment, collection efforts will depend on successful asset searches.

Asset Searches on Individual Debtors

The focus of a comprehensive asset investigation on an individual includes:

  • Financial Accounts
    (Personal Bank, Investment, Brokerage and Retirement Accounts)
  • Real Property
    (Current Ownership, Financing History, and Recent Sales/Transfers) *
  • Fraudulent Conveyances
    (Transfers of Property to Family Members, Close Associates or Corporate Entities)
  • Employment and Business Interests
  • (Including Shell Corporations and special-purpose Limited Liability Companies)
  • Personal and Family Trusts
  • Financial Awards and Settlements
    (Divorce, Probate, Insurance and Civil Cases)
  • Other Tangible Assets
    (Motor Vehicles, Aircraft and Boats)

* I cannot more strongly stress the importance of real estate sale dates to any financial asset search, and hope for recovery. We have located significant hidden money accounts that we became aware of upon discovering relatively current real estate sales. That sale money has gone somewhere.

Discovering Financial Accounts*

For medium to large judgments, we suggest nationwide searches for bank, brokerage and retirement accounts.

Account search results generally include:

  • Account Type(s)
  • Name and Address of Financial Institution
  • Approximate Balance (Bank Accounts)
  • Approximate Portfolio Value (Investment and Retirement Accounts)

Bank accounts include checking and savings accounts at banks, credit unions, and savings and loan associations. Certificates of Deposit (CDs) are also identifiable in certain cases.

Brokerage and retirement accounts include trading portfolios of stocks and bonds, mutual funds, 401(k) accounts, and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) held at top brokerage houses and mutual fund institutions throughout the U.S.

Other types of financial accounts – from cryptocurrencies to mortgages, military (and civilian) pensions, to corporate profit-sharing plans – are also identifiable through various (and always, legal) methods and resources. There is now also the capability to identify foreign and offshore accounts.

These asset and bank searches are lawful as long as they are conducted in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) financial privacy laws.

*With financial accounts, ensure that you have all owner and signer information, as well as terms of the specific account structure. A simple signatory agreement generally allows a designated individual to transact on the account (per transaction limits are often imposed) while ownership of the account is just that, and most often not automatically transferrable to a willed beneficiary should the primary account owner becomes disabled or deceased.

I strongly suggest obtaining as much information as possible on the defaulting debtor. Asset searches are not a game to see how much the investigator, with minimal information, can locate recoverable assets. The most successful asset searches are conducted with the active participation of the judgment awardee- people often know more than they consciously realize about their debtors.

BNI Operatives; situationaly aware.

As always, stay safe.