Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

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  • Driven Into Debt

    This ongoing series of stories — which started at ProPublica Illinois and later was produced in collaboration with WBEZ — exposed how the city of Chicago’s aggressive and unequal ticketing practices, combined with punitive collections measures, have pushed tens of thousands of mostly black motorists into Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The stories have also examined Chicago’s cottage industry of bankruptcy attorneys who profit off consumers with ticket debt, even as their clients often sink even deeper into debt; the racially disparate consequences of license suspensions for unpaid tickets; and an ill-fated decision to hike the price of what was already one of the most expensive tickets in the city.
  • ProPublica Illinois: Driven Into Debt

    This series of stories — which started at ProPublica Illinois and later was produced in collaboration with WBEZ — exposed how the city of Chicago’s aggressive and unequal ticketing practices, combined with punitive collections measures, have pushed tens of thousands of mostly black motorists into Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The stories have also examined Chicago’s cottage industry of bankruptcy attorneys who profit off consumers with ticket debt, even as their clients often sink even deeper into debt; the racially disparate consequences of license suspensions for unpaid tickets; and an ill-fated decision to hike the price of what was already one of the most expensive tickets in the city.
  • CBS News: New Tax Scam Tricks

    When tax preparer Annette Kraft in Duncan, Oklahoma, checked the status of her clients' tax returns in January, she was surprised to find all of them had been rejected."The code was 902-01," she said. "That means someone else has already filed a tax return." It turns out her clients were victims of a new tax scam intended to cheat them out of their refunds, and her town was ground zero in the scam. The criminals get their hands on returns from previous years, then use that information to file new fraudulent returns on unsuspecting victims. After the refund goes into the victim's bank account, the crooks, posing as debt collectors for the IRS, follow up with a phone call claiming the refund was an error, then directing them to a fraudulent website to return the money. "I had about $9,015 more than I anticipated," said Duncan police officer David Woods. He discovered that supposed refund one day as he checked his bank balance, but it didn't make sense because he hadn't filed his taxes yet. "I didn't get my W-2 to file my taxes," Woods said. He returned the money to the government, but now the IRS says his real refund will be delayed, possibly for months. He's not alone. At the local tire shop, 49-year-old Jerry Duvall told us his $5,800 return is more than two months late. "We planned on taking care of expenses, getting caught up on bills and we counted on it," Duvall said. He missed a $200 car payment, and on the very day we spoke with him, he told us his car was getting repossessed.At least 230 of Kraft's clients have been hit and face months of delays. Taxpayers like 91-year-old Ray Prothro found out about the scam from the IRS while we were there.
  • The Intercept: Group that opposes sex work gave money to prosecutors’ offices – and got stings against johns in return

    This was an investigative piece that relied heavily on documents obtained through FOIA requests and revealed that prosecutors around the country were receiving millions of dollars in funding from an anti-prostitution advocacy group that required them in return to conduct raids on brothels and stings against sex work clients. In particular, internal documents showed that in exchange for nearly $200,000 in funding, the advocacy group essentially required the King County prosecutors’ office and their law enforcement to erroneously label criminal cases they were pursuing as sex trafficking even though there was no evidence of trafficking in these cases. At one point, the advocacy group was even allowed to edit a press release issued by the prosecutors about these cases to include terms like “sex trafficking.” Legal scholars said that the King County prosecutors may have violated their own professional codes of conduct that restricts them from making sensationalistic “extra-judicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused.” My article was the first to show that the independent judgement of law enforcement in King County and other jurisdictions may have been compromised by the strings-attached funding from Demand Abolition, the anti-prostitution group.
  • Drug Test Shakedown

    A FOX31 Denver undercover investigation exposed an extortion scheme happening inside a prominent pre-employment drug screening center. Undercover cameras caught a facility manager accepting cash bribes from clients in exchange for guaranteed adulteration of urine tests.
  • Schoolgirls for Sale

    Japan's obsession with cutesy culture has taken a dark turn, with schoolgirls now offering themselves for "walking dates" with adult men. Last year the US State Department, in its annual report on human trafficking, flagged so-called joshi-kosei osanpo dates (that's Japanese for "high school walking") as fronts for commercial sex run by sophisticated criminal networks. In an investigation, VICE News host Simon Ostrovsky brings the readers to Tokyo's busiest neighborhoods, where girls solicit clients in their school uniforms, to a concert performed by a band of schoolgirls attended by adult men, and into a café, where teenage girls are available to hire by the hour. But the true revelations come behind closed doors, when schoolgirls involved in the rent-a-date industry reveal how they've been coerced into prostitution. (https://news.vice.com/video/schoolgirls-for-sale-in-japan)
  • Cashing in on Congressional Connections

    The Better Government Association investigated the lobbying business of a recently retired Illinois congressman, Jerry Costello, who represented a downstate district along with transportation interests as a member of key transportation committees. The investigation found that in his first year out of Congress, Costello lined up lucrative clients. He received $10,000 a month to lobby for Boeing, whose interests as a government contractor he promoted while in Washington, and $7,000 a month to lobby for a transit district that benefited from his help in securing millions of dollars in federal funding.
  • Death by Deadline

    In Death by Deadline, The Marshall Project’s Ken Armstrong reveals how a provision of a 1996 law intended to produce speedier executions has resulted in scores of condemned felons losing their chance for a federal appeal. Armstrong uncovered 80 cases where defense lawyers blew a filing deadline -- in most cases, costing their clients a chance to challenge the verdict or the sentence. The series brought a little-known issue to public attention and may lead to policy recommendations from the American Bar Association and outgoing U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder Jr.
  • APTN Investigates: Abuse of Process

    This story is about the exploitation of vulnerable individuals - Aboriginal survivors of government Indian Residential School - by the very people who were supposed to be advocating on their behalf. In this story, the latest in a series of feature and news stories, we learn about a thug employed by a lawyer who uses strong-arm tactics to enroll news clients into his lawyer's firm and to extort money from the survivors.
  • Lobbyist in the Henhouse

    Lobbyist in the Henhouse is the product of a stunning seven-month investigation into what happens when an industrial lobbyist is hired to serve as Maine's top environmental official. Colin Woodard, a 2012 Polk winner, carefully documented how Patricia Aho, a corporate lobbyist who became commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, smothered programs and fought against laws that she had opposed on behalf of her former clients in the chemical, drug, oil and real estate development industries.