Predators are stealing entire family fortunes, conning the elderly and infirm out of billions in life savings. Here’s how they do it, and why they rarely get caught.

By Stefanie Cohen

The Trump officials gutting federal fraud protections never met John Hlywa, but they surely would have admired the guy. A World War II hero, he devoted his life to work and family, and his frugality was legendary. He might have been the stingiest penny-pincher in all of Michigan.

If he needed to bathe, Hlywa fetched rainwater from the pickle vat he’d set up near his barn. If he wanted wood for the stove, he’d retrieve some from the cellar using only his flashlight so as not to switch on a light and waste electricity. …


Elizabeth Holmes at TedMed; TED/Screenshot

Editor in Chief Brad Hamilton chats with the award-winning journalist about the reporting journey that led to his new book, “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.”

Among the many hot streaks in investigative journalism, it would be hard to top John Carreyrou’s ongoing run.

The Wall Street Journal’s deep-dive ace, who won his first Pulitzer in 2003, snagged his second in 2015 after he and a team exposed how Medicare got bilked for $60 billion in bogus charges. Carreyrou easily could have taken home a third award when he broke the scandal of Theranos, Inc., a high-flying Palo Alto tech firm that promised to revolutionize blood testing by getting fast results with just a few drops of blood. …


How the Trump Probe Looks Just Like a Mob Case

By Brad Hamilton for the Contently Foundation

The revelation on Thursday that a top Republican supporter sought stolen emails from Russian hackers to help the Trump campaign has stirred hopes among the president’s foes that finally there is hard evidence of his team having colluded with foreign criminals to swing the election.

But there are enough tenuous connections here that I doubt that this link, even if corroborated, would be enough to push Trump from power.

How involved was Mike Flynn in the scheme, if at all? Is there any written communication proving his ties? And if Flynn asked for…


Family legacy: Donald’s duplicitous father cheated veterans and American tax-payers. His grandfather got rich as a pimp.

The following is an excerpt from “The Truth About Trump,” by Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter Michael D’Antonio (2015, Thomas Dunne Books).

Two government investigations revealed that [Fred Trump, Donald’s father] consistently bent the rules to wring excess profits out of programs designed to house war veterans and middle-class Americans. Fred’s most creative business activity involved not the construction of his cookie-cutter housing but the development of a web of corporations to obscure what he was doing with his government-subsidized financing.

When called to account, he owned up to his greedy and unseemly behavior and offered the immoral explanation that the system…


On April 17, the Contently Foundation published “Frack Off!” in partnership with the Huffington Post. It was a story that spoke to the heart of our mission: an under-reported problem in a corner of the country often forgotten by the media. The story followed mother-and-daughter activists Stacy Long and Judy Wanchisn and their fight to halt Pennsylvania General Energy’s plan to dump fracking waste in Grant Township, Pennsylvania.

Sara Stewart, a freelance journalist working on behalf of the foundation, tracked the story for more than a year — getting to know both the individuals involved and the legal precedents important…


Journalist Tony Schwartz helped create the Donald Trump legend when he co-authored The Art of the Deal. But last year, in an interview with Jane Mayer published in the New Yorker on July 25, Schwartz said he regretted doing the book, which, he said, did not reflect the real Trump. “I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” …


The following is part of an ongoing series presented by the Contently Foundation. Culled from the many books and magazine articles written about Donald J. Trump, this series aims to reveal some of the influences and qualities that form the character of the American president.

From “Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump,” by Harry Hurt III (1993)

Hurt is a former New York Times columnist and Newsweek foreign correspondent who spent three years researching and writing “Lost Tycoon.” He interviewed more than 100 people for the book.

As Donald traverses the catwalk between the master bedroom and his private bathroom, he realizes, once again, that all this is not enough. Ever since…


By BRAD HAMILTON for the Contently Foundation

If you like football, as I do, you’re probably looking forward to tonight’s NFL draft, an annual paroxysm of wishful thinking and, increasingly, a tradition that helps us forget there’s reason to quit the game for good.

The threat isn’t that your team (in my case, the lowly 49ers) will whiff on its draft picks. They probably will. The results of recent drafts tell you all you need to know about the chances for success.

In 2014, 100 selections were made in the first three rounds. Of those, 16 players became Pro Bowlers…


How mother-and-daughter activists took on a drilling company to protect their town’s drinking water — and set the stage for a game-changing showdown on corporate versus community rights.

By Sara Stewart for The Contently Foundation

Donald Trump might not know it yet, but he should be worried about Stacy Long.

Long, 47, a graphic designer from rural western Pennsylvania, is an avid death metal fan and unlikely threat to his administration. She dresses mostly in black and lives with her husband so deep in the woods of Grant Township, about 70 miles from Pittsburgh, they can’t see any neighbors. …


Journalist Chris Hamby talks about his reporting process for his 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning series

By Scott Simone for The Contently Foundation

It all started with an advanced copy of a government report on the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster that killed 29 miners in southern West Virginia. “We knew that some other news organizations also had it, and we were thinking, ‘What can we do that’s different, that’s not going to be the same as what they did?’ says Chris Hamby, who was then a reporter working with the Center for Public Integrity.

Then, Hamby found that in the Governor’s Task Force’s hundred-plus-page document, there was one page describing autopsies on 24 of…

The Hatch Institute

Nurturing the Craft of Investigative Journalism

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