An Irish Snapshot: Do You Want Control Of Your Personal Information Here?

Ireland is generally know for pretty green eyes, beautiful women with red hair and a booming tech industry courting foreign investment. Aspen Grove Solutions (AGS), the shoe in for Mandatory Contractor Background Checks is also based out of Ireland. With one hell of a push underway by Wells Fargo and Jim Taylor vis-à-vis the National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS), Aspen Grove Solutions would appear to be the only capable Firm available to conduct these intrusive dragnets.

I am an American. I like Apple Pie, Baseball and my John Deere Tractor which I use daily on our 14 acre farm. I believe in America because it is the Country I live in. I served my Country; I say the Pledge of Allegiance with my son on the 4th of July. I support the Men and Women whom fight to protect my Country.

I do not believe in sending jobs outside of the United States. I do not believe in Foreign Nationals having ANY ACCESS TO MY OR MY FAMILY’S PERSONAL INFORMATION. We support Made In America Products because we are not hypocritical corporate pencil pushers. We pay a dollar extra here and there because the jobs we save could very well be that of a Military Spouse! I despise Foreign Entities whom come to the United States to make a quick buck upon the backs of hard working Americans. If this is you, then you should rightly be offended.

Let me get a bit more blunt about precisely what I think about Wells Fargo, Jim Taylor, NAMFS and their hustle to outsource information about United States Citizens. I personally believe it poses a Clear and Present Danger to the National Security of the United States.

Why? Well, Aspen Grove Solutions has absolutely NO DAMN IDEA whom is submitting information to them. What they have is data; they data mine to HOPEFULLY GET THE RIGHT ANSWERS! Make no mistake about it, Aspen Grove Solutions is not the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). You see, if a Contractor goes to his or her local law enforcement station, they pay around $5 to be fingerprinted. They present proper identification, are fingerprinted and the FBI returns the results. Aspen Grove Solutions DOES NOT DO THAT. At best they query data from a collection of civilian databases and hope for the right answer. No way in hell is it 100% accurate. If you want a Court Battle I will gladly oblige. If you have no first party identification verification, no way you can authenticate whom submitted the data. Make no mistake the dry runs have already been made.

Additionally, Aspen Grove Solutions, no matter whether or not they have spun up an office here in the United States, is still based out of Ireland. How’s the taxes treating you over there Aspen Grove Solutions? Just curious.  No, $5 for an FBI check is both far more financially sound and far more accurate than ANYTHING Aspen Grove Solutions is capable of producing. Unless …

Unless ultimately, what Wells Fargo, NAMFS and the Financial Institutions want at the end of the day is the ability to pick and choose based upon a wide spectrum of information which may be skewed in any direction they want. Let’s talk about Credit Reports. Many Contractors are one ding away from NEVER GETTING A LOAN AGAIN! So, let’s have good ‘ol Sheehy, O’Reagan, et al., poke around and rack up those points. Yeah — not me! How about that good ‘ol Social Media Investigation?! Um hum. And then let’s allow for access to THOUSANDS OF US CITIZEN’S DATA globally! Yeah, you have to be shitting me!

Anyone remember the Irish Republican Army (IRA)? Yeah, these folks weren’t in the Hospitality Business. They killed men, women and children. Well, Martin McGuinness was “engaged in paramilitary activity” during the Bloody Sunday slaughter amongst an entire litany of other heinous activities.

In 1973, McGuinness was convicted by the Republic of Ireland’s Special Criminal Court, after being arrested near a car containing 250 lb (113 kg) of explosives and nearly 5,000 rounds of ammunition. He refused to recognise the court, and was sentenced to six months imprisonment. In court, he declared his membership of the Provisional IRA without equivocation: ‘We have fought against the killing of our people… I am a member of Óglaigh na hÉireann and very, very proud of it’.

In 2011, he ran for President of Ireland. Not Northern Ireland mind you, but IRELAND. The same Country that the Foreign Nationally owned Aspen Grove Solutions hails from.

It doesn’t end there. While Aspen Grove Solutions may be composed of a bunch of really neat folks like Denia Graham of Field Asset Services (FAS) fame — did I forget to mention they, as well, are 80% controlled by a Foreign National out of Canada? — the simple fact that Ireland is on a downward spiral into the deep depths of Muslim Extremism is both hard to ignore and extremely disconcerting.

From Tracking Terrorism:  In March 2010 the situation in Ireland changed. For the first time a large scale operation was launched by the security services in order to disrupt and arrest several Muslim extremists. It later transpired that those arrested were actively involved in planning an operation to assassinate the Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks.  Amongst the seven arrested were several naturalized Irish citizens, many of whom had been living legally in Ireland for up to 10 years.  Although charges against some of those involved in the plot were later dropped, the Vilks plot as it became known sent shockwaves throughout Irish society.  For the first time, what had been an accepted reality within security circles finally became public knowledge.  For many the realization that extremist elements were living and moving freely through Irish society quite literally came as a shock.  The Waterford arrests were viewed by many within the Islamic community as a watershed moment; what had previously been rumor and suspicion had now become a reality.

One concerned Muslim quoted in a Sunday Times article stated;

‘these are people who admire Osama bin Laden, they shouldn’t be allowed to preach anywhere, publically or in private… they are moving and living in the other cities away from Dublin, where it is quieter, we feel they may be planning something big, maybe not in Ireland, but definitely planned from Ireland’.

Many people asked ‘Why would they come here, why Ireland?’   Unfortunately, the appeal of Ireland for extremists soon became obvious.

Unlike many other European countries, Ireland makes an ideal training area; it is an open, democratic and relatively liberal society.  The security environment is comparatively benign, it has a generous and easily accessible welfare system and historically its security forces are primarily focused on addressing a threat from traditional (nationalist/loyalist terrorist groups such as Irish Republican Army (IRA), Irish National Liberation Army, Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), Red Hand Commandos) Other factors such as the Common Travel Area, have also presented unique challenges – because movement through the common travel area (between the UK and the Republic) is relatively straightforward, known extremists such as Ibirhim Bouasir and Chafiq Ayaydi can move throughout both states relatively unimpeded.  Currently both Bousair and Ayadi are on UN/INTERPOL watch-lists on suspicion of providing logistical and financial support to al Qaeda operations in Europe.

Relative to its population, incidents that can be attributed to Islamic extremists have risen dramatically in recent years within the Republic of Ireland; whether they can be attributed to an ever increasingly radicalized community is hard to tell. But as with other forms of terrorism, establishing the causal factors and motivations of Islamic radicalisation is becoming increasingly difficult to determine.  Despite the lack of emperical evidence concerning ‘cells’ or ‘clusters’ of extremists, there is documented evidence indicating that individual members of the Islamic community have traveled to Iraq to fight in Jihad.  In May 2004, Abu Hafs al-Libi, a Libyan asylum seeker who lived in Ireland from 1996 to 2003 was killed in the U.S. military assault on Fallujah, Iraq.  During his time in Ireland Hafs al-Libi was the subject of intense surveillance.  During interview one former NSIS officer conceded;

 ‘Hafs was a person we were concerned about. When he turned up in Iraq, it wasn’t really a surprise.  We knew he linked up with the Al-Zarqawi group, and that he may have been involved in at least one beheading.  He used to attend the SCR (Mosque) with a few other radicals.  But he would disappear every now and then and we would end up tracking him down, usually with a slightly different name’

The US Army War College Guide to National Security Issues delves into a veritable plethora of information which makes Aspen Grove Solutions’ Command and Control over US Citizen’s Personal Information terrifying at best. On point and to buttress one of my larger concerns is the fact that we are talking about enormous swaths of personally identifying data being examined from the point-of-view of foreign nationals which has to possibility of being leaked into the wrong hands. While I am not implying that Aspen Grove Solutions has nefarious goals in mind, understanding the underlying components allows for the arcane and abstract to be better understood when on a geopolitical theater.

Wells Fargo, Jim Taylor and the NAMFS all know that there are US Company alternatives. They begin and end with the FBI. For arguments sake; however, I ask them all this: Is it Patriotic to Outsource Work to Foreign Nationals when that same work may be done here in the United States? Wells Fargo, most importantly, need ask themselves whether or not being labeled Un American is worth the Public Relations nightmare this will fast become!

We attempted to reach out to Aspen Grove Solutions as a follow up to this original reply,

Hello Paul,

Yes, Aspen Grove is working with NAMFS to create an industry solution to the growing challenge of background checks.  The formal announcement will be made at NAMFS’ September Conference in Chicago.  Pricing details are planned to be announced then.  Wells Fargo will be one of the first lenders benefiting from this solution.  As you may already know, Jim Taylor from Wells Fargo, representatives from First Advantage, and Aspen Grove Inc. all participated in a NAMFS Leadership Conference in Dallas on July 31st.  You may wish to consider attending the NAMFS Chicago Conference to learn more. 

Kind Regards,

Chandra Dickson

Training & Sales Administrator

Aspen Grove Solutions

Any guesses what their reply was? Yeah, you guessed it. Silence. So, ask yourself this when you contact your Senators and Congresspersons while they are home on their Town Hall trips: Why is the US Government allowing a Bank to force me to PAY a Foreign National to conduct SENSITIVE Background Investigations?

Curious how the Background Checks will be ran upon the National, Regional and Otherwise Unspecified Order Mills. Hey Wells Fargo! If you want a few names of folks convicted of Cocaine Possession, Tax Liens, Credit Judgements and otherwise currently handling Operations and otherwise, feel free to reach out. It is really, REALLY going to be hard to say you didn’t know when the Aspen Grove Solutions Production rolls out and yet these folks were still handling foreclosed properties!

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