From the desk of Kristen Justis, Director of Marketing and Customer Relations
DANGERS OF ONLINE DATING FOR ALL GENERATIONS
PART FOUR – THE YOUNG SOLDIER
In previous postings in this series, I have discussed a widower, a divorcé, and a professional who were victims of online dating scams. One would like to believe scammers would have some conscience and stay away for our active duty military or even our veterans. This is not the case. Scammers are not particular when choosing their victims. Lauth Investigations International, Inc. recently handled a fraud investigation for a young military soldier who had been in a long term, live in relationship with a scammer he met online. Many believe these scams occur quickly; however, these individuals are committed and they get themselves in deep in order to complete the scam in its entirety.
Below is a description of a Lauth Investigation’s fraud case which shows military are a prime target for these scammers as they are gone from home often for months at a time. They are not able to be in tune with what is happening at home while they are deployed.
The Young Soldier
Jack is a twenty-two year old Army soldier. He met Gina on line while he was stationed in Kentucky. Gina and Jack began dating and their relationship grew over a period of two years. They are in love and decide to move in together. Jack proposes, they move into an apartment and they are ready to start their life.
In the meantime, Jack has completely isolated himself from his family and friends. His mother, Tara, hadn’t heard from him for over a year. Gina has been added to Jack’s bank account and she has taken control on his finances. In a long term, engaged, relationship, one party taking over the finances is not typically a red flag.
In the summer of 2017, Jack learns he is being deployed to Afghanistan. He attends training in Texas prior to his deployment. While in Texas, Tara broke up with Jack but told him she would watch over his finances and apartment while he was in Texas and through his deployment. Heartbroken and hoping they would get back together once he returned to Kentucky, he agreed to allow her to maintain her control over his finances. Jack even began paying her a monthly rate since she was handling his finances.
After a few weeks of being deployed, Jack finds out, through a neighbor in Kentucky, Tara has moved in another man to Jack’s apartment where he was paying the rent. Once Jack found out, he called Tara and told her he was getting rid of the apartment as he didn’t need it anymore. He advised his parents were coming down to move his items from the apartment.
Jack proceeded to draw up a Power of Attorney for his parents to take over his finances. In the time it took him to get the Power of Attorney, Tara had drained his bank account, shut off his debit card and moved all items from the apartment. By the time his parents arrived at the apartment with a moving truck, the only possessions remaining were some of Jack’s clothes. Tara became a ghost.
Jack’s parents immediately hired Lauth Investigations to attempt to locate Tara in hopes of finding some justice for their son. The experienced private investigators began to uncover the full scope of the fraud which had taken place. The scam on Jack was found to be a well thought out plan.
The private investigators found Tara’s boyfriend who moved into Jack’s apartment was, in fact, her husband. They have pulled this scam on numerous individuals. They meet military personnel online, develop relationships with them (men and women), take over the finances, skim money from the accounts, and disappear with all the money once their true intent surfaces.
Unfortunately for the individuals like Jack, they willingly add the scammers to their bank accounts, thereby making the money common property between the two individuals on the joint account. There is no criminal recourse for this action. The victims may pursue civil action against these thieves; however, the victims generally do not have the money to take this next action.
Lauth Investigations assisted in locating this thieving couple and provided Jack with information to file civil suit against them. Jack reported both individuals to the online dating site they utilized. Hopefully, they will learn their lesson and stop preying on our military.
Private Investigators provide answers for victims and handles cases the police are unable to investigate. Utilizing a private investigation firm is key to uncovering the truth, arming victims with ammunition to proceed as necessary, and hopefully stopping criminals from harming other individuals in the future.
DANGERS OF ONLINE DATING FOR ALL GENERATIONS
PART TWO – THE DIVORCЀ
As discussed in my previous posting, The Widower, Lauth Investigations International, Inc. has handled several cases of scam and fraud in relation to online dating sites. The elaborate lengths these scammers go to get what they want is overwhelming. Lauth Investigations has uncovered several different scams as they have related to our clients. The scariest part of these scams is the commitment and dedication these criminals put into their deception.
The following Lauth Investigations fraud case focuses on a fifty-five year old, successful divorced gentlemen. It is widely believed women are the main targets and victims of online scams; however, Lauth Investigations has found men are just as affected falling victim to these criminals.
The Fifty-Five Year Old Divorcé
A year after Bill and his wife of 30 years divorced, Bill was looking to get out into the dating world again. He is an accountant for a large firm so he works most of the time, he hasn’t been on a date in over 30 years, and he doesn’t know where to go to meet anyone. A friend suggests online dating. One night, Bill decides to set up his profile on a dating site just to see what happens. Bill’s nightmare begins.
Within a few weeks of being on the dating site, Bill connects with a beautiful younger woman from Russia, we’ll call her Ava. Ironically, even though they are from completely different cultures, Bill and Ava have a lot in common. Although Ava struggles with English, she communicates enough via phone, texting and emails to make a strong enough connection with Bill. He ends up falling in love with her without meeting her.
Once Ava knows Bill is hooked, she starts pulling at his heart strings. She tells him how hard it is to live in Russia because jobs do not pay more than a few hundred dollars a month. On top of her low salary, she must take care of her ill mother because her father was killed in a car accident. Now, Bill feels the pull to play the hero. All a part of the ploy. He wants to swoop in and help Ava to show her how much he loves her.
Ava never had to ask for any money. She plays the role perfectly and Bill starts offering money. When Ava pretends to be embarrassed about taking Bill’s money, he insists she let him help her out. Ava “reluctantly” provides Bill her information so he may Western Union her money. The money starts flowing in the direction of Russia.
After months of Bill sending money to “help” Ava, she claims her mother died. Being the good boyfriend, Bill sends money for the funeral. He offers to bring Ava to the States to live with him and get married. Ava is excited to start a new life with him; however, a new snag occurs when she tries to her obtain her visa. The only way it will be resolved is money, which Bill sends, excited to finally meet Ava in person. He is ready to start their new life. The final payment is sent for Ava to purchase her plane ticket. Once sent, Bill never hears from Ava again.
Lauth Investigations International, Inc. is hired when Bill worries Ava was harmed trying to leave the country. He has not yet realized he is a victim of a scam. After much investigation, Lauth proved to Bill that Ava was not the woman’s real identity. The information she provided him led to no one. Research into finding the individual(s) who picked up the Western Union payments revealed nothing. These scammers utilize this payment method because the payments cannot trace who picked them up and they can be picked up anywhere in the world.
After Bill gave away $75,000 and his heart, he now is picking up the pieces and moving on to better things. He was a victim of an elite fraud. He lost a lot of money and his dignity. Bill is not the only one in this position. This fraud is consistently pulling men and women in making the scammers extremely wealthy. Do not let yourself or a loved one be fooled into this fraud. Always err on the side of caution and spend a little money up front to have a potential partner researched by a private investigator. Being too careful never hurt anyone!
Lauth Investigations International is a private investigation firm. We are constantly questioned about what our background searches can provide that a personal background search cannot. All I can say, it’s all in the details. You pay for what you get. If you want all detailed, accurate information, you will pay for a Private Investigation Background Search. If you want high level information, you will conduct your own Personal Background Search.
Personal Background Search
With the internet, so much information is at our fingertips, but are we getting the most up to date information? A personal background search will bring up the following information:
- Employment history. The search will bring up employment records; however, it may only bring up the last couple of positions held. It will not give details of all the employment information for the individuals.
- Academic and/or professional qualifications. The search will provide education information and any certifications. High level information will only be received.
- Criminal Records. The search will show all arrests and convictions.
- Financial Standing. The search will bring up any liens, judgments, bank accounts and property ownership.
The information obtained will be high level and up to the person’s own ability to read the results. In order to get deeper levels, the user has to continue to pay the further in depth they go.
Private Investigations Background Search
Unlike a personal background search conducted by a novice user, a private investigations background search is not just putting a name in a database and seeing what comes up. Private Investigators have access to several databases which will show a variety of information.
- Employment history. The search will bring up employment records including all positions held, any discrepancies on a resume, the salaries affiliated with the positions and any other information a potential employer would need to know.
- Academic and/or professional qualifications. The search will show all academic history and certifications even if the individual did not complete the program.
- Criminal Records. The search will provide a detailed outline of all criminal activity from speeding warnings/tickets and arrests up to convictions and jail time served.
- Financial Standing. The search will show all liens, judgments, bank accounts, property ownership, previous ownership of properties, dates properties sold, NSF checks and bankruptcies.
Along with the typical information received through a personal background search, private investigation background searches also include:
- Worker’s Compensation Claims an individual has filed. Determining the character of an individual is just as important as their criminal history. For employment purposes, an individual who files numerous compensation claims reveals a dishonest, fraudulent individual.
- Ascertain causes of accidents or any criminal activity. DMV reports will show accident information; however, they do not show all causes of the accidents. The in depth reports by private investigators show the reasoning behind accidents and if there was criminal activity involved in the accident as well.
- In depth analysis of all findings in the research. Any individual can pull information; however, it’s how the information is analyzed and interpreted that makes it helpful.
- Information on employers, business partners, and personal partners.
The process of performing background checks is and should be more in depth than just putting in a name in a database. To ensure the most updated accurate information is received, a private investigation background check is the direction to take. The analysis and time put in from a private investigator along with their ability to understand the findings places the outcome far more beneficial. The personal background checks are general and only provide high level information. Without the knowledge needed to understand the reports, the information does not provide the detail generally needed.
Background checks can be used for all kinds of reasons. If you are looking into a potential business partner, potential employee, potential life partner, a detailed background check with concise analysis can provide you the information needed to make informed decisions. Do not rely on just an internet search without the knowledge to know what information is in front of you.
Photo by Nicolas Halftermeyer (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
Today’s private investigators seem to have it pretty easy compared to those of the past — cell phones, security cameras, and social media accounts are often used to obtain evidence for investigations. Gone are the days when private eyes had to flip through physical documents and phone directories, or find the location of someone with an actual map. And now, thanks to the advancements in drone technology, some investigators are opting to do away with physical surveillance.
A drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), is a remote controlled aircraft. Although they have been around for several years, flying personal UAVs is a relatively new hobby. These small crafts have been all over the media lately, even earning the endorsement of Martha Stewart. Like Stewart, many people use drones to take beautiful aerial photos. The market for drones is constantly expanding, and tech companies are keeping pace. Some drones can record a live feed, detect heat, or are small enough to fit in the palm of one’s hand. Others can fly four several hours at a time, scanning entire cities in a day.
Due to their discreet nature, private eyes have begun using drones to catch cheating spouses or dishonest employees. Instead of observing someone on foot for hours, investigators can use a drone to get a bird’s eye view of a suspect and collect video evidence. Using a drone is also safer for an investigator and are cheaper than chartering a plane or helicopter. A recent New York Post article featured a private investigator whose specialty is drones. According to the article, the investigator had to use a drone to record evidence of insurance fraud instead of physically surveying the suspect’s property for fear of being shot.
Because of their invasive capabilities, many are questioning the ethics of drone usage, including U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. Schumer recently called for federal regulations on drones, even going as far as proposing a ban on drone usage by private investigators. The idea of anyone being able to purchase a surveillance drone and using it to record whomever and wherever they want is fairly unnerving. The use of personal drones is uncharted territory, filled with flimsy guidelines and little regulation. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits the flying of UAVs for commercial use or payment. Drones are also not permitted to fly over heavily urban areas, and must alert control towers if they fly too close to an airport (FAA Website). Even so, investigators like the one featured in the Post article are still flying their drones.
Should we start expecting to see drones tailing us as we walk down the street? Probably not.
For now, most investigators are opting to stay on the ground and stick to their tried-and-true surveillance techniques. If evidence is gathered illegally, it may lose its value in court, and a private investigator could lose their credibility.
Photo courtesy of DES Daughter, Flickr
Considering a lawsuit? Waiting to collect a judgment? If so, it may be time to hire a licensed private investigator to conduct a corporate asset investigation. Corporations are viewed legally as a separate legal entity from their shareholders, and are considered as legal persons in the eyes of the law. Corporate litigation is also an expensive and lengthy process. Due to these circumstances, asset searches involving corporations require a specific type of investigation that only a licensed private investigator can provide.
Reasons for a Corporate Asset Search
Most investigations of a corporation’s assets occur in two stages: pre-trial and post-trial. A pre-trial search of assets can help clients determine if a lawsuit is worth pursuing. The cost of corporate litigation adds up, and if the opposing company won’t be able to pay a judgment, the lawsuit will end up costing much more than it is worth. Asset searches can also prevent a lawsuit from happening in the first place. Information on things like hidden bank accounts and past lawsuits has proven to be a valuable tool for negotiations. For corporate litigation totaling over 500k, an asset search is essential.
Conducting an asset investigation post-trial will uncover assets that a debtor is trying to conceal. People and companies who are forced to give up assets will often go through great lengths to hide them. Businesses have been known to move funds offshore and set up overseas bank accounts in an effort to hide their money, and some may misrepresent the amount and value of their assets. Debtors will also have assets that are protected under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, making it much harder to obtain a judgment. It can take up to ten years for a creditor to receive their judgment in full, and that’s not accounting for legal extensions. The creditor has a legal right to receive their judgment, but is often left to retrieve that money without the aid of the court.
Hiring a Private Investigator
Most corporate attorneys do not have the time or means to conduct a thorough pre-trial investigation of a company’s assets. In post-trial investigations, creditor rights attorneys will work together with private investigators to ensure that their client’s judgment is paid. They need information quickly and legally, which is something that a licensed corporate private investigator can provide. Intelligence on liquid assets can be hard to come by legally without the aid of a professional, and can take a long time to prove successful. A private eye will work together with an attorney to thoroughly investigate the following:
- Bank accounts
- UCC Filings
- Federal and state tax liens
- Real estate and mortgage information
- Past judgments and lawsuits
- Affiliated companies
- Offshore assets
There are several ways in which a debtor will attempt to conceal assets, making an asset search necessary. Public records and internet searches will only turn up so much, and must be done so by legal means. Hiring an investigator who is experienced in corporate litigation will increase the likelihood that a creditor will receive their judgment in a timely manner.
Choosing the Right Investigator
Hiring a licensed private investigator is an essential part of a corporate asset search. With no less than 20 years of experience, Thomas Lauth and his team of investigators at Lauth Investigations International will work attorneys to ensure that the client’s needs are met. With three main locations in Indianapolis, IN, Denver, CO, and Miami, FL, our investigators are dedicated to providing national and global corporations with complex investigations.