by Carie McMichael | Mar 23, 2021 | Corporate Investigations
There are many aspects of life that Americans miss from the pre-pandemic times. Activities we took for granted, like eating in a restaurant, watching a live sports event, or even our typical working lives. However, one of the most pervasive aspects of pre-pandemic life that was not missed is mass shooting events, like the tragic events that took place in Virginia Beach in 2019. Gun violence was so high in the United States in 2019, it might be difficult to remember just how high after a year in quarantine.
Recently, America was reminded of the tragic problem of gun violence in America with two active shooter events occuring within six days of each other. First, on March 16th, an active shooter went on a violent spree, shooting and killing eight people across three massage parlors in Atlanta, Georgia. Six of the eight victims were Asian, and the shooter reportedly blamed his actions on a sex addiction. Then, not even a week later, an active shooter event took place at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado in which ten people were shot and killed, including a Boulder police officer.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were more mass shootings than days in 2019. That’s 417 mass shootings in one calendar year. The GVA defines mass shooting as an active shooter event in which “four people are shot, excluding the shooter.” Sites of these mass shootings ranged from the workplace to community festivals. It was a record-breaking year, surpassing the staggering 382 mass shootings that took place in 2016. As attempts to curb gun violence in the U.S. remain ineffective due to congressional stalls and public outcry, employers and employees alike cannot help but wonder if their workplace will be the next target of a mass shooter event.
According to the FBI, the vast majority of active shooter events take place in areas of commerce, meaning buildings that are home to businesses, typically open to pedestrian traffic. The second and third most common areas are education (as in schools), and open space areas such as parks or concert venues. This means that employers and business owners of all kinds may be anxious to find ways to prevent and protect their livelihoods and the lives of their employees from this type of workplace violence.
The approach to preventing active shooter events in the workplace has two prongs. The first step in protecting the workplace or worksite from potential active shooters is risk assessment. Leadership should opt into a full evaluation of their worksite. Security is the first step in preventing active shooters. What are the credentials needed to enter the worksite? How many points of access are there? What are the security measures in place to protect the employees? How many security cameras are there? Not every worksite needs to have a metal detector in order to enter, but part of the evaluation would include an assessment of how likely it is for an active shooter event to take place. At least in the case where an active shooter event is carried out by an employee of the business in question, there are at least one or two warning signs preceding the event. Maybe the shooter in question has had multiple disagreements with coworkers, or has recently been disciplined for some form of misconduct. While it’s difficult to anticipate who may or may not incite violence based on recent events, it may be possible to predict future behavior based on an employee’s past behavior.
The second prong of active shooter prevention is operational oversight, meaning there is due-diligence on the part of leadership to ensure they are hiring the best employees with no history of violence or menacing in any way. Often in cases of mass shooter events in the workplace, there are problems within the corporation with hiring protocol. Perhaps the company doesn’t perform exhaustive background checks on their potential hires, or maybe they have not defined enough disqualifying criteria for a candidate’s hire. While there are many companies that run background checks for corporations, not all have the diverse experience of a private investigator. Through their licensure by the state, private investigators have access to verified, comprehensive databases on par with that of law enforcement. This allows them to look at a candidate’s full criminal history, address history, litigation history, and other important factors to determine what a candidate’s propensity for violence or unpredictable behavior. Long-time private investigators have the professional experience needed to view a subject’s record and perform their own risk assessment on their history. Private investigators can also use their knowledge of the criminal element and their patterns to identify employees who pose a potential risk who are already embedded in the organization.
If you have concern that your workplace may be at risk for an active shooter event, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our risk assessment services, or our active shooter programs in which we help your organization develop an action plan should an active shooter event take place. Call 317-951-1100 or visit us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com
by admin_lauth | Mar 14, 2019 | Attorney & Legal Support, Corporate Investigations, Fraud, non-compete violation, Tips & Facts
When growing a business, executives and owners have to go the extra mile when it comes to protecting trade secrets. In the pursuit of their company’s business, a common practice for corporations of all sizes is implementing non-compete clauses in their employees’ contracts. This ensures, should an employee leave the company for any reason, they cannot utilize trade secrets for the purpose of building a similar business of their own. It’s in a business owner’s best interest to be preemptive in protecting themselves from client poaching, theft of company secrets, and possibly even slander when it comes to current and former employees who violate their non-compete agreements.
Though they go by several names and the laws concerning them vary state to state, non-compete agreements are generally a legally-binding contract between an employer and an employee, whereupon acceptance of a job offer by a company, an individual agrees during their employment and following their termination they will not enter into any competing business for a predetermined period of time. Whether it’s working for a company’s top competitor, or striking out in their own business, non-compete agreements protect trade secrets, sensitive company information, and prevent competing businesses from poaching successful employees with promises of a handsome pay-raise in exchange for the expertise they might have gleaned from their time at their previous position. This kind of information can range from client bases to business operations to future products and services. The duration of the non-compete agreement following an employee’s termination have to be well within reason, as no employer can permanently preclude a former employee from any line of work.
Not every company experiences difficulties by virtue of a former employee violating their non-compete agreement, and some companies do not see the need for non-compete agreements at all, but the consequences of trade secrets being used to steal a company’s business can have devastating effects, ending in the worst possible circumstances with a business closing and an owner in debt. Even if a company is able to quash a non-compete violation in court, the cost to the company in legal fees can be astronomical, especially for smaller businesses. That’s why it’s important for owners and executives to be preemptive and proactive when it comes to potential violators. Luckily, a private investigator can help at all stages of a non-compete violation investigation.
Human resource employees are the salt of the earth, and can have a great influence on how a company develops based on the individuals they select for their workforce. However, human resource employees are not lie detectors, and do not always have access to legitimate, comprehensive background screening tools. Background screenings and checks are among the most common service associated with private investigators. If there is something suspect in a candidate’s past, licensed private investigators have the tools and experience to find it out. Private investigators can pull a candidate’s criminal history, financial history, and interview persons in their lives who can speak to character and work ethic. They can also spot patterns in a person’s work history or lifestyle that could be high-risk factors in a hypothetical non-compete violation—things like transience, long periods between positions, or financial destitution.
Some malingering employees can’t wait to be terminated before violating their non-compete agreements. It’s not uncommon for these individuals to exploit trade secrets for their businesses own gain while on company time and dime. While on a business trip, an individual might use company per diem to buy drinks for a person who could be a potential investor in their new business. Employees might use company supplies to supplement their project, such as printers, fax machines, computers, and other equipment. Private investigators can conduct diligent investigations within a company’s workforce to root out the source of the theft. Private investigators can interview witnesses, including upper management and other staff, review vital documents like bank records, and conduct surveillance of the company’s operations as needed to expose the perpetrator. Their objectivity makes them an ideal candidate to conduct such an investigation because they do not have a stake in the outcome.
There are many circumstances under which a business owner might come to suspect a former employee has violated their non-compete agreement. Word might have traveled through business circles that a similar business is starting up. Employees might start disappearing in clusters. Clients may suddenly decide to sever business ties in favor of a new contender in the competition. Whatever transpires, one thing is certain—documenting and exposing this exploitation is imperative, because the consequences can be costly. Retaining a qualified private investigator who specializes in corporate crises is crucial to resolving non-compete violations quickly, before the exponential costs begin to erode profits. Private investigators can perform surveillance on suspected former employees to document their movements, record with whom they met, and collect evidence such as pictures of a brick and mortar establishment, marketing materials, vital documents, and filings with the Secretary of State. Private investigators can send undercover operatives to infiltrate a workforce to get information the business privy only to employees. They can also enlist the aid of a confidential informant—an individual already within the company to provide information. This requires quality interviewing skills and developing a natural rapport with potential witnesses, both important qualities in a qualified investigator.
When non-compete violations are at their ugliest, not only do violators seek to siphon off their former employer’s business by exploiting trade secrets and knowledge of their operations, but they can also play dirty by exposing this information publicly. Another method involves deliberately spreading lies about the competition in order to drive business towards the former employee’s company. That’s known as slander and it’s legally actionable. Documenting the perpetuation of these lies and proving they are in fact false are crucial in these cases. Diligent fact-finding is the cornerstone of any private investigator’s expertise. Private investigators can conduct cyber investigations to track down the users behind profiles that post false negative reviews, follow rumors back to their roots, and forensically track how information left the competition and made its way into the former employee’s business nucleus. They can implement many of the strategies aforementioned: surveillance, interviewing witnesses, documenting evidence. Slander cases tend to have a divisive they-said, they-said narrative, which is where a private investigator’s objectivity becomes invaluable once more. Private investigators have no stake in the solution of an investigation. Their independence coupled with their expertise and resume make them spectacular witnesses in any subsequent litigation.
When a company has a non-compete agreement in place, it’s important that executives and owners are proactive when performing a risk assessment on a potential employee. It’s important that a healthy company culture fosters good comradery, honesty, and a policy of “if you see something, say something.” Building a case against a former employee who violated their agreement can be time consuming at the expense of company resources. Dealing with the fallout from litigation can bring a reliable business to its knees. Private investigators can assist in all phases of any non-compete agreement violation, and retaining their services will go a long way towards a body of objective evidence and testimony that can resolve a company’s crisis.
If you have suspicions that a current or former employee has violated their non-compete agreement, contact Lauth Investigations International today for a free consultation on how we can help you! Call 317-955-1100 or find us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com.
Carie McMichael is the Media and Communication Specialist for Lauth Investigations International. She regularly writes on investigations, missing person, and other topics in the criminal justice system.
by admin_lauth | May 15, 2018 | Corporate Investigations, Criminal Investigation, Private Investigations News, Tips & Facts
Rooting Out Thieves in the Workplace
It is estimated 30% of employees steal from their employer.
Most of us have dealt with a thief during our lifetime. Devious and sneaky, some thieves behave as if stealing is an art. It is usually a theft exposing them; however, many times, they can strike numerous times before getting caught. When theft happens in the workplace, it can not only be a costly lesson but the cause of a business failing.
An estimated 30% of employees steal from their workplace affecting all types of businesses. For instance, if you are running a restaurant with $1 million sales annually, at only 4% theft within the company, your company would be losing $40,000 a year!
Employee theft costs U.S. businesses over $200 billion in annual losses. Not only are companies trying to prevent the public from stealing items, inventory, assets, and ideas from a business, they must also combat thieves on the inside. Unfortunately, 75% of employee-related crimes go undetected.
Theft can take many forms, such as: stealing money, embezzlement, unauthorized use of business or customer identity, and theft of intellectual property, such as cases of patent or trademark infringement.
Combating Theft is Knowing How Employee Theft Occurs.
Employees who have access to a cash register is the most common way employees steal from companies. If unsecured, petty cash drawers or boxes, can be an easy target for thieves.
In addition, an employee can quote a higher price than the actual price of an item and keep the difference at the point of sale.
If employees have access to credit card information or checks, theft can happen as easily as sticking a few checks inside a folder, costing the owner thousands before it is detected.
Checks and Fraud
Most banks do not verify a signature on a company check making it very easy to sign and cash a check.
Credit card fraud is a number one threat to companies and consumers because most credit card holders admittedly do not check each line item on their credit card statement.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), companies with less than 100 employees, lose approximately $155,000 as a result of fraud each year, a much higher rate than large companies.
Employees may often perform actions and falsify records for work they didn’t do, such as requesting reimbursement for travel and other expenses unrelated to work. Employees may also set up fake payroll accounts for workers who have been terminated or retired. Creative thievery abounds.
Time theft or “Buddy Punching” is a very popular way timesheets may easily be falsified. Individuals complete this theft by having one employee punch another employee in or out for the other.
Excessive breaks, malingering, surfing the Internet, chatting with employees or taking personal phone calls are other ways time theft occurs. While some of these things may not at first be thought of as stealing, all these actions, or inactions, can affect the bottom line and be taking advantage of an employer.
Thieving employees will set up fake vendor accounts, submit phony invoices and issue checks for the false vendor. These checks can then be signed over to themselves and deposited. In addition, a variation would be paying a vendor $500 and writing a check to themselves, expensing the entire $500 to the vendor.
Loss of inventory can happen in the merchandise distribution process but can also happen before merchandise is made available to the public. Many times, employees will take items from a warehouse or newly arrived items before they are scanned into inventory software. Employees have even been known to steal entire shipping trucks containing merchandise headed to their employer’s company.
Some employees steal smaller items such as typical office supplies, but furniture and equipment are not off limits for a thief.
Many employees steal information to benefit themselves or a competitor. Types of information include: office memoranda, proprietary products, customer lists and/or other confidential data. Theft can occur by email, printing, or copying information to a flash drive or cell phone, or simply carrying it out in a purse or folder.
Sometimes, theft can be subtler, such as luring customers away, purposefully providing poor service, even spreading rumors to damage a company’s reputation and cause a down-turn in business. All are considered losses.
While there are ways to combat theft within your company, ultimately identifying the thief before they are hired is the most effective way to reduce the occurence of theft.
The SBA recommends: “One of the first steps to preventing fraudulent employee behavior is to make the right hiring decision.”
Background checks are a good practice for any employer, large or small, especially for those employees who will be handling cash, high-value merchandise, or have access to sensitive customer or financial data.
For over twenty-years, Thomas Lauth of Lauth Investigations International has been working nationwide and helping educate employers on methods used to combat theft.
“The first and most effective way to address theft in the workplace, is to conduct an extensive background check,” says Lauth. “A background check can provide insight into an individual’s behavior, character, and integrity.”
Which Types of Background Checks Should You Conduct?
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, upwards to 30% of business failures are caused by employee theft. Thus, conducting effective, extensive background checks helps to mitigate your risk of hiring objectionable or even dangerous employees.
Not all background checks are the same. As you build a profile of your future employee, there are several kinds of background checks you should consider. For example, a criminal background check is different than checking on an individual’s credit score or military service, these require consent. A criminal background check does not require consent; however, some states have laws restricting how you use the information collected during a criminal background check.
Private investigation firms like Lauth Investigations offer complete background checks while helping you comply with the law.
Protecting Your Legal Liability with Background Checks
Smaller businesses often forego background checks for two reasons: 1. A false sense of trust and security developed by business owners working too closely with employees. 2. Most businesses do not understand the legal liabilities associated with the failure to conduct employee screening and background checks.
Any business where employees provide a direct service and interact with customers, such as contractors or daycare providers, is liable if an employee does harm to a customer and the employee has a history of wrongdoing.
A company, big and small. may not recover from this kind of lawsuit.
Choosing the Right Company to Conduct Background Checks
Protecting the interests of your workplace and customers while reducing potential liability is of utmost importance; therefore, it is vital to select a company you can trust to conduct the background screening both efficiently and thoroughly.
While employers can do some background checking of their own, working with an experienced and reputable company can ensure the reliability and thoroughness of the background screening.
Purchasing instant public records found online is not appropriate for conducting potential employee background checks. Most certainly if your hiring decision is based on tpublic record data, your company could land in hot water.
Most public databases do not fact check, clean up or refresh their data providing completely different information than received from an investigative firm experienced in conducting professional, legal and full background screening.
Private investigators have access to databases to determine if a potential employee has a criminal background.
A reputable company providing background screening services will ensure the information you receive is current and accurate.
If a hiring decision is made based upon information found in the background check, in most cases, the company must inform the potential employee of the source used to obtain the information for the background checks (which is where using public databases can get your company in legal trouble).
What can you expect from a professional background check? According to Lauth, it’s all in the details and you pay for what you get. If you want detailed, accurate information, you will choose a Private Investigation Background Search.
Unlike a personal background search using public databases, private investigators have access to several databases providing a variety of information.
- Employment history: This search will bring up employment records to include all positions held, making it easier to find discrepancies in a resume. It will also include salaries associated with the positions.
- Academic and professional affiliations: Qualifications to include academic history and certification, even if the person did not complete the program.
- Criminal records: Including a detailed outline of all criminal activity from traffic warnings and tickets to arrests and convictions. Also, these include jail time served and fines paid.
- Financial Standing: Reflects all liens, judgments, bank accounts, current and previous property ownership, repossession of vehicles or other personal property, NSF checks and bankruptcies.
In addition to the typical information received through a personal background check, a private investigator will include:
- Worker compensation claims an individual has filed. This can help determine the character of an individual by looking at the number of claims they have filed which could reveal a person is dishonest and fraudulent.
- Ascertain causes of accidents or any criminal activity. DMV reports will show accident dates and basic information but do not reflect the cause. Private investigators can provide the cause behind the accident and whether criminal activity was involved.
- Information on business and personal partners.
- Analysis of all findings.
Relying on an Internet search is risky. A professional background screening will be more in depth than simply entering a name in a database. When a company’s future is at stake, the only way to go to obtain concise information needed to make informed decisions is a professional, private investigations extensive background check.
by admin_lauth | Feb 20, 2018 | Corporate Investigations, Private Investigations News, Tips & Facts
By: Kym Pasqualini, Feature Crime Writer for Lauth Investigations
The days of red and blue handkerchiefs, baggy pants, graffiti, rap-music, and drive-by shootings are no longer such a popular sub-culture. Believe it or not, the new kind of gangsters hold college degrees, work and hold jobs in offices, warehouses, even government positions and police departments. They are a more sophisticated criminal and have infiltrated corporate America.
No more baggy pants. Today, you are more apt to find a gang member wearing black patent leather shoes.
If you think this is not a possibility in your own company, think again. No industry or company is exempt. A University of Chicago study found gangs have increasingly adopted a clean-cut appearance while replicating techniques used by organized crime.
Described as “very sophisticated and well organized” by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), they estimate there are 33,000 violent street gangs with 1.4 million members nationwide. You can safely double that number if you count affiliates and wannabes. The number has risen steeply, up from 1996 where an estimated 400,000 gang members were accounted for in the University of Chicago study.If you think this is not a possibility in your own company, think again. No industry or company is exempt. A University of Chicago study found gangs have increasingly adopted a clean-cut appearance while replicating techniques used by organized crime.
Well-known companies, Chicago Police Department, the United States Post Office, major pharmaceutical companies, and even the Social Security Administration have found gang members within their ranks carrying out complex illegal operations netting millions annually.
According to the FBI 2015, National Gang Report (NGR), gangs have gained employment in the U.S. Military, law enforcement, corrections, and even judiciary.
From the Streets to a Global Crime Empire
Typically, gangs are known for drug trafficking, robbery, gun trafficking, intimidation rackets, prostitution, human trafficking, fraud and other crimes you may think would not infiltrate a common company. Now, they are. However gangs are concentrating their efforts on white-collar crime due to weaker sentencing guidelines and ease of making money.
The term “gang activity” involves identity theft, credit card fraud, prescription drug fraud, trafficking stolen goods, money laundering, mortgage fraud, Social Security Administration fraud, tax fraud, counterfeiting, and securities marketing manipulation. Where there is access, there will be individuals willing to participate in capitalizing and even selling their access to those interested in exploiting the system.
In New Jersey, the 111 Neighborhood Crips used a machine to make gift cards they distributed to grocery stores, pharmacies and other stores. Grand larceny accounts for 40% of all crime in the United States during 2014.
In 2015, the Outlaw Gangsta Crips in NYC made approximately $500,000 in a paycheck fraud scheme by obtaining a legitimate paycheck from an employee and using the information to create and cash counterfeit checks.
From 2004 through 2009, fraud investigations alone increased 33%, bringing losses associated with those schemes into the billions of dollars.
According to Fox Business, Gangs such as the Bloods, Crips and La Nuestra Familia are undertaking white-collar crime. They are recruiting members that possess the necessary skill-sets, according to the FBI.
When you think gangster, images of Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro, maybe even Snoop Dog, may come to mind, not the impeccably dressed executive working in a high finance position. Or, the nicely dressed woman at the bank who knows how much you deposit weekly or the amount of your company’s payroll.
In a Workforce Magazine article, “Have Gangs Invaded Your Workplace,” during 1995, California, Silicon Valley firms alone were hit with more than 50 armed robberies of microchips and electronic components with the average heist netting the robbers $400,000. “There’s a growing level of sophistication and opportunism,” says Keith Lowry, a detective in the High-Tech Crime Unit of the San Jose Police Department.
Gang members are becoming harder to weed out in the hiring process, much of the time because we commonly think of “gang members” as looking like street thugs, and these old stereotypes are costing companies billions annually.
Weeding out white-collar gang members has become increasingly difficult.
Any company can become a target or an opportunity to engage in illegal activities, like dealing drugs, theft of property or personal information, extortion. Gangs have learned they can make a lot more money by being well-dressed, educated, and articulate.
For instance, electronics firms are easy targets. A microchip or computer processor weighing less than an ounce can score several hundred dollars on the street. The sentence for being charged with a stolen microchip much less than selling an ounce of drugs.
Some gangs plant members within a company in specific department such as infiltrating dispatching, shipping or the financial departments. They can also pose as temporary workers or work for outside vendors to gain access to numerous companies.
In addition, the growing trend toward outsourcing can often lead to less control over merchandise, files, and information.
According to a Fox Business article “From the Streets to Cyberspace: U.S. Gangs Turn to White Collar Crime,” the FBI says, “Gangs are more adaptable, organized, sophisticated, and opportunistic, exploiting new and advanced technology as a means to recruit, communicate discreetly, target their rivals and perpetuate their criminal activity.”
Facebook has become the preferred method for gang members to communicate according to the FBI. “The proliferation of social networking websites has made gang activity more prevalent and lethal – moving gangs from the streets to cyberspace,” says the FBI.
Arming Your Human Resources Department
Much of the solution lies in ensuring Human Resources procedures are effective. Of course, background checks and screening procedures are vital but is there more to be done to detect a potential criminal trying to infiltrate your workforce? The first thing to keep in mind – you get what you pay for and being lax can cost you.
Local criminal checks are almost worthless; however, a full criminal screening can pay off. In addition, many applicants may have earned their GED in prison, with some digging, their history can be discovered.
Many companies cut corners and haphazardly follow procedures when screening applicants not realizing dealing with the aftermath can result in costing more when you compare it to properly vetting applicants the first time around.
Additionally, letting your applicants know you will be conducting a thorough background, previous employment, driving records, verifying degrees, criminal record check, and reference checks can also discourage many applicants from pursuing the position in the first place, which ultimately saves your company time and costs associated with the screening process.
What is important to consider is applying an effective screening procedure to contractors, consultants and temporary employees depending upon how much access they may be granted, as well as, the time they will be spending at your company.
Trusting a “temp agency” is conducting the appropriate background checks is a potential liability for your company.
Educating your employees on how to spot gang activity and how to handle it is crucial. Some companies have found having training sessions and employee meetings add to their success combatting gangs in the workplace.
Experts agree loyalty to gangs overrides loyalty to an employer. Even though they may try hard to blend in they may still slip occasionally and there are some recommendations or even subtle things to monitor.
- Does your employee reside in a known gang area?
- Is your employee responsible? Too much time on the phone or arrive late?
- Does your employee go by a nickname and have nicknames for friends?
- Do the clothes, colors or insignias stay consistent?
- Does your employee have visitors at work, friend or family?
- Have you noticed any graffiti in or around your workplace?
- Does your employee use verbal, hand or walking mannerisms that could be associated with gang activity?
- Is your employee on parole or probation?
Being a girlfriend of a gang member or being a current or former gang member is not against the law, but it could be a sign of other activity that could be detected if your HR department is cognizant of the many issues that face companies if infiltrated.
Using Private Investigators to Combat Gang Intrusion in the Workplace
Private investigators are a commonly used tool in the arsenal to combat “gang intrusion” along with malingering, theft or fraud in the workplace.
Along with surveillance and providing evidence, they can also evaluate your HR department’s policy and procedures through undercover placement or working along with the HR department to tighten up the reigns to reduce incidents of crime.
Many times, it is recommended to have a private investigator apply for employment without informing anyone in your company to best determine where weaknesses exist in the hiring process. Were all the references called? What questions were asked? Were the proper background checks completed?
It may be necessary to start at the beginning of the hiring process. In addition, private investigators can be placed in certain departments where there have been discrepancies identified to collect evidence admissible in a Court of law. It is an extra layer of protection when investigating activities at your company without violating privacy laws.
When a company suspects criminal activity, it is advantageous to hire a professional who will work with police if the legitimate criminal activity is, in fact, detected. Abuse of sick leave or malingering costs companies billions of dollars a year. This is enough to warrant the hiring of a private detective to legally document the behavior.
From filming a guy talking about starting his new business and hinting at using the employer’s database, to a meat manufacturing plant taking a cut of the supplier’s delivery, to the employee watching porn on the company computers, a private investigator can take the care needed to conduct an internal investigation legally, ultimately protecting your company and saving you a lot of money.
by admin_lauth | Jan 5, 2018 | Private Investigations News
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.