APG-L Archives

Archiver > APG > 2008-07 > 1215803366

From: Kelvin Meyers <>
Subject: Re: [APG] ethics question
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2008 12:09:26 -0700 (PDT)
In-Reply-To: <005c01c8e37a$ecd115e0$2f01a8c0@ch8s101>

Ms Schwartz:

You are correct in that heir searching is a competitive business, however your ethics and "gut feeling" should be your guide. Your contact's comment about a " tremendous amount of unethical behavior going on" is what give this area of research a bad name.

Yes there are those companies and individuals out there that have no ethics. However, there are those of us who do this work all above aboard and with a clear conscience. You don't lie, cheat or steal to get ahead, it's wrong! If you get to the heir after your competition, you walk away hoping to be first in line next time.

If it were me, I'd only provide the information asked for and let him be the one with ethics issues. I personally have to be able to sleep at night.

Kelvin L. Meyers

J SCHWARTZ <> wrote:
I'm doing some "low level" work in an heir tracing situation, in that I'm
subcontracted to another person (part time genealogist, part time teacher)
who is subcontracted to the man who initiates these projects, on behalf of
unclaimed estates (land) in Israel. The top guy is not a lawyer, by the
way.. his other hat has got something to do with managing/producing/other
hip hop groups, believe it or not. He is apparently successful in both
fields, but I have no way of judging just how lucrative his heir tracing
activities are. I know he uses people all over the US for help.

This is the second time I've worked in this arrangement. I'm asked for very
little, just information that I can find in Philadelphia relevant to the
case, that I pass back via email, which points the intermediary guy in a
direction. He takes it from there. There is no issue of my having to be an
expert witness, and the work, while intriguing, does not amount to many
hours. Still, I found the information that broke open the first case, and
I've found significant data that has opened up the second case and raised
many questions, as yet to be resolved, and that is very beneficial to my
confidence level.

It turns out that (and maybe those of you who do this regularly know this)
this is a very competitive field and it is a race to see who finds the
information first. In my googling for information on the case, I found
another person who had been posting about the same people in 1999, 2001,
and, most recently, a few weeks ago. My contact person knows of him and
says he is "our" competitor. His last post was a request for volunteer
to take a photo of a tombstone in one of the Jewish cemeteries in
Philadelphia. My gut reaction was that it must be involved in this case,
but I could be wrong. I also was strongly tempted to offer my services, just
to find out who he was after. I told all this to my contact, but he took a
day getting back to me. He called the cemetery asking for any burials of
anyone by the names we are targeting and they had none, but one still
wonders. After much thought, he said he wanted me to do what I initially
was tempted to do, so I emailed the guy, but as I expected, someone else had
already offered.

I felt kind of relieved, although I would dearly love to know whose
tombstone he wants photographed. Something about tricking him out of
information seemed kind of slimy. I expressed as much to my contact and he
poo-poo'd my ethical concerns, saying that in heir tracing, there is a
tremendous amount of "unethical" behavior of various levels going on, since
it's a race to the spoils.

How do you guys feel about this, particularly those doing heir tracing? If
you had been in my situation, would you have tried to get the information
from the competitor in the manner I almost did? Do you feel this is
unethical? I'm not Pollyanna, but I sure did have second thoughts. Am I
too sensitive?



Johanna Schwartz
Philadelphia Genealogy
768 N 25th St
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 235-0895


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