9 Jaw-Dropping Investigations We Published In 2015
Rucksacks of cash, ghost schools, jailed high schoolers. From neglect at a major for-profit foster care company to America's broken guest worker system to a mobile home builder preying on minorities, the year that was in BuzzFeed News investigations.
Kieran Kesner for BuzzFeed News
A second story in the series spotlighted one harrowing example: a two-month-old girl who died of sudden infant death syndrome in a Mentor home whose caregivers hadn’t been taught basic safe sleeping practices for infants. For several years, the state of Massachusetts kept almost everything about the baby girl a secret, including her identity.
We published her name and her story.
Dylan Hollingsworth for BuzzFeed News
Serena Vela skipped school and couldn’t pay the $2,700 she owed in fines. The 11th grader was sent to adult jail for nine days, and on the first school day after she got was set free, her high school kicked her out. Soon after
this story came out, it was cited on the Texas senate floor as legislators changed the state’s law to put an end to the jailing of poor teens who skip school.
Steven St. John for BuzzFeed News
Still, many adults in Texas get locked up because they can’t pay petty fines, and BuzzFeed News
also found that many judges flout laws meant to protect people from going to jail simply because they can’t afford their debts.
Sasha Mordovets / Getty Images | AP
After Western sanctions began shutting down sales of high-tech internet equipment to Russia’s military and security forces, employees at the technology giant Cisco Systems
altered sales records and booked deals under a false customer name, according to internal company documents. Cisco vehemently denied violating sanctions, but later shut down the department in Moscow that made the sales.
Photo Illustration BuzzFeed News / Getty images
The London office of Reed Business Information sold critical financial data to blacklisted institutions in Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Iraq between 2008 and 2013, despite strict international sanctions designed to starve the rogue states of funds.
Our investigation unraveled the web.
Azmat Khan / BuzzFeed News
Ken Bensinger, Jessica Garrison, and Ben King / BuzzFeed News
Every year, thousands of foreign workers are given temporary visas to do some of the most menial labor in America.
But many of these workers have been abused — deprived of their fair pay, imprisoned, starved, beaten, raped, and threatened with deportation if they dare complain. Yet employers face little scrutiny for their actions.
In the wake of this story, members of congress
demanded an overhaul of the program.
Kevin D. Liles for BuzzFeed News
The H-2 guest worker program isn’t supposed to deprive Americans of jobs. But
a second investigation in this series found that many employers take extraordinary measures to deprive U.S. workers of jobs so they can hire foreign workers instead. Sometimes minority Americans are pitted against the immigrants: “All you black American people, fuck you all,” a company supervisor was quoted as saying before laying off scores of people and filling the jobs with guest workers.
Pat Kinsella for BuzzFeed News
The guest worker program is virtually unknown to the general public, but American businesses prize it for the steady supply of cheap and pliant labor.
Its foremost champion has been Stan Eury, who waged and won battle after battle to push the program’s wages down, to reduce regulation, to bat back worker protections, and to discourage and disqualify American job seekers. He also conspired to defraud the United States of America. But though he’s now in prison, his operation is still going strong.
Shaam News Network/Handout / Reuters
Getty / i-images / Lynzy Billing / Sian Butcher / BuzzFeed
Getty / Reuters
in a second story in the series, reporters found ties between the company’s chief executive, Subaskaran Allirajah, and Sri Lanka’s former president, who has been accused of corruption and war crimes. The story unearthed details of a $10 million deal between a Sri Lankan state telecoms company, the former president’s relatives, and a Lycamobile offshore company.
Rex Shutterstock/PA/Laura Gallant/BuzzFeed
“Britain’s FBI” is in crisis, with every single one of its live investigations and prosecutions in jeopardy. The reason: its widespread use of potentially unlawful warrants. Major cases have already collapsed, and the conviction of one of Britain’s most notorious drug traffickers may be at risk.
BuzzFeed News pulled back the curtain on the problem, which one judge referred to the problem as “systemic.”
A follow-up story revealed that the NCA also has
major problems in detecting money laundering.
Rick Wilking / Reuters
Warren Buffett’s Clayton Homes
deploys predatory practices that have damaged minority communities across the country. The company, which dominates virtually every facet of the mobile home industry, charges African-Americans higher loan rates than it does whites who earn less money. While it markets to Latino customers with ads in Spanish, its practice is to provide contracts in English — and not provide interpreters. Its corporate culture has condoned racism towards customers and its minority employees. We did this investigation in partnership with The Seattle Times, whose version of the story is here.
Mark Schoofs is the investigations and projects editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. While working at The Village Voice, he won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his series on AIDS in Africa.
Mark Schoofs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip?
Submit it here.