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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  • The Real Question

    Our 4 1/2-month investigation uncovered how The RealReal, a high-profile $1.5 billion public company that bills itself as the world's largest online marketplace for luxury merchandise, does not have experts authenticating every item as the company claims, leading to obvious counterfeits being sold on the website.
  • Pentagon secretly struck back against Iranian cyberspies targeting U.S. ships

    In the middle of June, tensions were rising between the United States and Iran. Iran had attacked oil tankers traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, and then downed an expensive, high-tech Navy RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drone flying over the Strait, upping the ante of the conflict. Given previous rhetoric from Trump administration officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo against the Iranian regime, the decision to exit the Iran deal or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and the increasingly heavy sanctions on Iran, the Yahoo News team was monitoring for chances to report in more depth on specific Iranian capabilities as well as U.S. plans to counter them. Following the attack on the U.S. drone, Yahoo News began communicating with sources who had extensive detail on a specific unit within the Iranian military in the cross-hairs of the U.S. military, a unit that had advanced its cyber capabilities to the point that it was able to track nearly all ships traveling through the Strait through both social engineering, or pretending to be attractive women engaging with service members traveling on the ships, to actually compromising ship GPS data websites in order to digitally monitor their paths. In the course of reporting, Yahoo News discovered a key, news breaking event—that just hours prior, the U.S. Cyber Command had launched a retaliatory strike aimed at limiting the capabilities of the specific Iranian cyber group the team had already been investigating. Yahoo was the first to break the news of the retaliatory strike, leading dozens of major news outlets to race to match the story. However, given the fact Yahoo News was investigating details into the cyber unit, our story was not only first but best and most detailed. The story demonstrates our ability to jump into the news cycle, provide key breaking news to our readers, as well as dig deep into illuminating new details. The story also revealed that Iranian capabilities to intercept and down drones to study them for espionage purposes was highly advanced, a fact previously unknown. Given President Trump’s recent decision to authorize a strike to kill IRGC Commander Qasem Suleimani, our reporting will continue to provide value to readers, analysts, and other interested parties hoping to better understand Iranian capabilities and how the U.S. might respond to them.
  • Toronto Star: Rise of Ghost Hotels

    The data investigation began with the question: Is Airbnb exacerbating Toronto's rental crisis by enabling short-term operations to flourish at the expense of long-term rental stock? We analyzed more than 20,000 Airbnb listings data scraped by independent third-party website insideairbnb.com. We also filed requests for documents on business incorporation to validate our findings about commercial operators.
  • WKMG News 6 Gets Results for Drivers during SunPass Upgrade Meltdown

    In June of 2018, The Florida Department of Transportation and its state vendor, Conduent, underwent a massive upgrade to the state’s tolling system known as Sunpass. It failed miserably, causing the SunPass computer system to crash and led the entire billing process into turmoil. For more than 2 months, drivers were not billed for their toll charges, leading to a backlog of nearly 330 million transactions. That created a consumer nightmare, with customers dealing with a deluge of backlogged tolls, computer glitches, duplicate billing, questionable and erroneous toll charges, and long wait times for help both on the phone and in person. WKMG News 6 kept viewers informed on every problem, every development, and even offered solutions and an interactive tutorial on how to check their accounts for duplicate or erroneous toll charges. We also created a timeline of events, exposed when the SunPass Website failed to allow customers to turn off auto-pay online, had the wrong date and time stamp on millions of toll transactions, and delayed sending out toll by plate invoices due to continued issues with toll data accuracy.
  • 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.
  • CBC News - Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo

    This submission is for a podcast with ten episodes. The submission includes the episodes, an audio trailer as well as a link to the podcast website where you can find other material such as photos and video and text stories and uploaded files of the episode transcripts (as supplementary material) On the surface, this is a true crime story trying to answer the question - what happened to Cleo Semaganis Nicotine? She and her siblings in the Cree Indigenous family were taken into government care in Saskatchewan, Canada in the 1970's and adopted into white families in Canada and the United States. The siblings re-connected as adults but can't find Cleo. They've heard that she ran away from a home in Arkansas and was murdered but they don't know if that is true. They want help to at least find where she is buried.
  • CBC Marketplace - Crying Out for Care

    Crying Out for Care was a 22-minute episode of Marketplace and digital, social, television and radio stories to reach a broad audience. Marketplace is a long-running Canadian Broadcasting Corporation investigative consumer affairs television program. its stories are presented in documentary form on the show and other versions, angles and follow-ups appear in the newscasts,news programs, website and social media of CBC. This submission includes the Marketplace episode and includes some of that other coverage. Topic: Marketplace applied data journalism techniques as well as it usual research to dig into the quality of care residents in nursing and long term care homes are receiving.
  • Flood-related spills ignored by TX officials

    The El Paso Times exposed the fact that even though they had civil-air patrol photos of them, Texas officials have mostly ignored scores of spills of oil and fracking fluid during severe floods in recent years. When they reported on the photos, which were posted on an obscure government website, the Texas Department of Public Safety ended public access to them. After subsequent reporting and editorializing, officials returned them to public view. They obtained and analyzed scores of regulatory reports to rebut regulators' claims that they respond to every spill. The problematic responses to the spills, however, continue.
  • The Digilantes Try to Find Out Who Is Behind Mugshot.com

    The Digilantes uncovered a multi-million dollar extortion-based industry that’s wreaking havoc upon tens of millions of Americans’ lives, especially minorities. It’s the business of mugshot websites. Operators of these sites scrape public arrest records from online police databases, put them on their own websites, making them easily searchable on Google, and then charge hundreds of dollars to remove them, whether you are guilty or not. These mugshots, which can live forever online, are a form of digital scarlet letter ruining people's’ reputations, job and housing opportunities, even their dating lives. http://fusion.net/story/252451/digilantes-mugshots-dotcom-investigation/
  • Inside the Shady Industry that Profits off Mugshot Photos

    “Mugged,” which premiered on Fusion on March 6, 2016 as part of the network’s monthly investigative “The Naked Truth” series, explores the multi-million dollar extortion industry of mugshot websites, which is wreaking havoc on the lives and reputations of tens of millions of Americans, especially minorities. In a completely legal process, operators of these websites collect public arrest records and photographs from online police databases and post the records on their own websites, often making the content more prominent via search engine optimization. These mugshot websites then charge the arrested individuals hundreds of dollars to remove their records and photos, despite the fact that many of these individuals have been falsely arrested, found innocent, or have yet to stand trial.