Sex Trafficking in Indiana: Choosing the Right Investigator

Sex Trafficking in Indiana: Choosing the Right Investigator

In recent weeks, U.S. marshals have recovered 72 survivors of sex trafficking in Indiana, Ohio, and Georgia during “Operation Homecoming” in tandem with a string of similar operations occurring throughout the United States. The operation concludes within children from a wide age range being rescued from dangerous criminals who intend to traffic these children with intent to exploit throughout the United States and the globe.

Americans are obsessed with true crime material, particularly those concerning missing children, like the popular Netflix docuseries The Disappearance of Madeline McCann. Due to their sensational narratives, these cases typically revolve around conspiracy within or adjacent to the family. Missing children experts have also said that in a majority of cases, these children are abducted by someone they know rather than a stranger. The reality is that the danger comes from both strangers and family members who sold children into this form of modern-day slavery. Because cases of sex trafficking are not often reported on in extensive detail, social justice warriors have taken to  creating hashtags to spread awareness. Among these is the hashtag #SaveOurChildren which seeks to bring awareness to sex trafficking and the pervasive cloak of criminal conspiracy under which it supposedly thrives. From claims that the furniture company Wayfair was selling children by disguising them as cabinets on the website to claims that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are aiding or abetting sex traffickers by allowing access to record numbers of displaced children, awareness of the machinations of sex trafficking are becoming a more tangible fear for many Americans. In Indiana particularly, learning how pervasive sex trafficking in Indiana has been and continues to be can be a difficult reality for those who previously thought of their state as a safe Midwestern state to live and thrive.

Professionals across multiple disciplines and capacities, including medicine, social services, and the criminal justice come across survivors of sex trafficking in Indiana at a much needed, if overdue point of intervention. This leaves many professionals and advocates at a loss, as they only have a limited role in preventing sex trafficking before it happens. Kalyani Gopal, the founder and president of SAFE Coalition for Human Rights recently told the Chicago Tribune, “There is significant underreporting in Indiana  due to a lack of training and awareness among first responders. Trafficking victims do not identify as being trafficked for many reasons, Mostly, they see themselves as being with a boyfriend or being used by a family for paying bills.” The reality is that in many of these situations, the “boyfriend” is actually a pimp exploiting the survivor through manipulation and violence. Survivors of sex trafficking in Indiana have often previously been subjected to molestation, domestic violence, and extreme poverty, leaving them with few options or cognitive tools to recognize a pattern of abuse and report it to authorities. This tracks with a Fox59 report from 2019 that states Indiana was one of only 20 states in the country that had no new criminal sex trafficking cases pending in the criminal court system. However, experts and advocates alike agree that this is not indicative of a fall in sex trafficking in Indiana. Kyleigh Feehs of the Associate Legal Counsel for the Human Trafficking Institute said in a public statement,

“There’s no evidence that shows that trafficking in the U.S. has dropped so the fact these prosecutions are dropping means there are more traffickers who are free to continue to exploit victims they have in their custody now as well as a future stream of victims. One of the most effective ways to combat trafficking is to prosecute traffickers, so this decline in cases is concerning ot us and we hope that this data will show that there’s a need to prioritize this issue and to dedicate, have dedicated investigators, and prosecutors who are working to stop traffickers.”

Indiana has been unflatteringly called “the armpit of the sex trafficking industry in the Midwest.” The same set of circumstances that garnered the state motto “The Crossroads of America” makes Indiana a hotspot for sex traffickers. The proximity to the city of Chicago and major interstates that extend to the rest of the country make the path through Indiana unfortunately efficient to move survivors through, often undetected by law enforcement. By the time law enforcement becomes aware of any sex trafficking activity, traffickers may easily have slipped out of state and beyond their jurisdictional reach. Sex trafficking in Indiana is not only allowed to prevail under the binds of the state, but also through general apathy or horror. The inherent problem with combatting sex trafficking is that from law enforcement officials to private citizens, adults in the United States would rather ignore the problem with internal rationalizations involving the assumption that law and order successfully curbs these crimes coupled with general apathy and victim-blaming. In addition, the ever-evolving sophistication of sex traffickers, law enforcement also must work within a broken social system where endangered children and survivors constantly slip through the cracks. In Gopal’s words, “No community is immune.”

When it comes to missing children, sex trafficking is often one of the most horrifying culprits. Survivors of sex trafficking are particularly between 12 and 14 years of age, have been groomed over the internet, and have been lured from their homes into criminal clutches. Unfortunately, children who are reported missing by their families to law enforcement as “runaways” may not get the attention they deserve as endangered missing children—simply because runaways do not want to be found, and law enforcement often prioritizes time and resources elsewhere.

Sex trafficking is deeply exploitive for survivors, but they are not the only one effected by the horrors of sex trafficking. Their families are left twisting when law enforcement is unable to recover their endangered child from sex trafficking. That’s why many families turn to private investigators to find answers when their child goes missing. Private investigators carry similar skillsets to law enforcement in investigative methodology, surveillance technology, and fact-finding. Private investigators are typically self-employed and independent of any chain of command, which means they are not tethered by the same jurisdictional or bureaucratic red tape. This allows private investigators to follow leads from state to state as sex traffickers keep moving to evade law enforcement. Many private investigators are former law enforcement personnel who can assist police in a recovery effort once they’ve successfully located a missing child who has been trafficked.

Lauth Investigations International is a private investigation firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Their founder, Thomas Lauth, is one of the nation’s foremost experts in missing children. For over 20 years, Lauth has been working with families of missing children, documenting the factors that led to them being coerced into sex trafficking, and assisting law enforcement in recovery operations to reunite survivors with their families. “It is very important for families to seek help independent from law enforcement in tandem with filing a police report. Unfortunately, law enforcement can be often unable or unwilling to help families of trafficked children because they see them as runaways. Having a private investigator involved at the onset of the case ensure that families with missing children have a greater chance of finding their missing children.

United Way investigation concludes, complaintants feel defeated

United Way investigation concludes, complaintants feel defeated

The United Way investigation was triggered by a list of former employees who singed an anonymous letter detailing a hostile work environment.

If you follow the mission and directives of nonprofit organizations, you’ve likely heard of United Way Worldwide. According to their website, the nonprofit “advances the common good in communities across the world. Our focus is on education, income and health—the building blocks for a good quality of life.” However noble their mission statement, United Way has been in the news recently as former employees have come forward with reports of a hostile work environment, prompting an internal investigation.

The United Way investigation began when former employers decided to take a stand against a toxic corporate culture. The allegations of a toxic, hostile work environment came in the form of a letter that was signed by an anonymous group of former United Way of Summit and Media, citing pervasive problems such as racism, sexual harassment, and nepotism. While the word “anonymous” raises eyebrows in conjunction with whistle-blowing, it bears pointing out that these former employees claim they will be subject to retaliation. The letter was sent to United Way board members on July 31, prompting board chairman Mark Krohn to announce the onset of an internal investigation.

Harassment and bullying are just one of the allegations made by the former employees who signed this letter, and this has led to one United Way board member already resigning. One of the first dominoes to fall in the United Way investigation was former board member Elizabeth Bartz, who was in charge of running government affairs in Akron, Ohio. Leadership from the United Way of Summit and Media began investigating Bartz after there were allegations that she had verbally abused employees on social media. Bartz used Facebook Messenger to send a private message to another former employee, calling them a “toothless piranha” and accusing them of attempting “to ruin UW” with their allegations of bullying in harassment—ironically by engaging in bullying and harassment. This led to Bartz’s resignation.

Bartz’s reaction to the anonymous letter might actually validate these anonymous claims by former United Way employees. However, according to an article by the Beacon Journal, these anonymous former employees are feeling ignored after an investigator reported that the allegations in the letter “were mostly unsubstantiated.” A former employee who claimed to speak for the group told the Beacon Journal, “It’s clear it’s not an objective report…We can’t keep talking if we’re not going to be valued and our experiences are going to be diminished. It’s pretty disheartening when someone says they were sexually harassed and they are told it was ‘he said/she said.”

The frustration and feeling of defeat expressed by these anonymous employees are the effects of poor corporate culture in motion. Like a piece of antique furniture with termites, poor corporate culture can rot a company from within. Looking at the list of grievances these former employees are citing—racism, sexual harassment, nepotism—these are all enormous and complex problems that are not created in a vacuum. The corporate culture of the workplace must be an environment where these issues are able to thrive in order to develop a pattern of behavior. When employees make claims about these types of internal issues, it is in the best interest of the corporation to submit to an independent corporate culture audit.

If your corporation or organization is experiencing repeated instances of internal difficulty, it might be time for a corporate culture audit. A corporate culture audit is a program that examines the internal policies of a corporation or organization, how those policies are enforced, how they effect the employees, and how those employees relate to each other as a result. If the corporate culture in a company is good, that positivity is baked into the internal operations, employees feel valued by their organization, and therefore will remain engaged and invested in maintaining productivity. Pervasive, repeated internal problems may not stem from a single factor, but the entire corporate culture of the workplace. Think of a corporate culture audit like a medical check-up for a business or organization. Lauth’s investigators evaluate the culture from leadership down, identifying the major factors in disruption, and advise leadership on how to improve their business from within. For more information on our corporate culture audit program, click here.

How to Save Money When Hiring a Private Investigator

How to Save Money When Hiring a Private Investigator

Under ideal circumstances, no one will ever have to hire a private investigator for their personal or professional crisis. In the event that the need for a private investigator should arise, prospective clients should know that there is a way to save money when vetting professional private investigators for their needs.

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Private investigators provide a valuable service to both businesses and private citizens by providing them with the intelligence they need to make complex decisions in their lives. That being said, individuals who are looking for a bargain bin deal when hiring a private investigator find themselves highly dissatisfied with the end result. These are sophisticated investigations that require the best tools and the best expertise available in pursuit of the truth. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to save money when hiring a private investigator. The answer lies in the pre-investigation phase before you’ve officially contracted the private investigator.

Quality fact finding is the basis of any quality investigation. Private investigators spend hours at the beginning of an investigation combing verified databases comparable to the ones used by law enforcement every day. Private investigators run names of all relevant subjects through these databases in order to build comprehensive background checks on the subjects in the case. These background reports have to be cross-referenced with multiple sources in order to perform due-diligence. Private investigators must take extra care to ensure that they have found the correct person in the database before This can become expensive, both in billable hours and in the cost of these verified reports.

Clients who are looking to hire a private investigator can save money in these investigations by having a much information available as possible about all subjects involved at the onset of a case. When you hire a private investigator, private investigators will sit down with clients and begin taking an intake narrative. Here is the type of information you can have available to save the investigator some time and money.

Name

Ideally, you would know the full name of the subjects involved in the case. This is not always possible—clients may only have a first name, or a nickname, which will lead to more fact finding on the part of the investigator. Having a person’s full name (with the correct spelling) is one of the most relevant pieces of information you can have for an investigator at the onset of the investigation so it can be accurately cross-referenced during due-diligence.

Birthday

A subject’s birthday is the second biggest piece of information you can have when you hire a private investigator. A subject’s birthday is cross-referenced with their name and other pieces of information to ensure private investigators have identified the correct report in their verified databases.

Address History

It is not necessary to know the exact address of a subject in order for the information to be valuable to the private investigator. Private investigators can use an approximate location to cross-reference other information on the subject and develop additional leads.

Work History

Knowing a subject’s trade, the cities where they’ve worked, or what companies they’ve worked for can provide the same context as an address history. In a skip trace (subject location) investigation, a private investigator can use knowledge of the subject’s trade in order to predict where they might go next to find work. A subject’s occupation and how it affects their daily schedule can help a private investigator develop leads and identify possible surveillance locations.

Make and model of relevant vehicles

A subject’s vehicle, whether it is legally owned by them or otherwise is a useful piece of information for a private investigator to track a subject’s movements. Depending on the location of the investigation, it may be legal for a private investigator to track a vehicle’s movements with a GPS tracker. Using this information, private investigators can document a subject’s movements for the investigation.

Existing evidence

In addition to word of mouth information you might have regarding an investigation, the tangible evidence is also important. Any relevant documentation to the investigation, including financial records, court documents, social media screenshots, or voicemail and text records, can go a long way in saving a private investigator time during the onset of an investigation.

At the end of the day, the best thing you can do when hiring a private investigator is gathering as much information as you possibly have for a private investigator at the onset of the case. It saves billable hours, resources, and frustration in any investigation. When you have your information ready, you’ll need a private investigator who always sweats the details. If you have a personal or corporate crisis in your life, call Lauth Investigations International today for a private investigator who will leave no stone unturned. Call 317-951-1100 or visit us on www.lauthinvestigations.com

Corporate Culture in the Moloson Coors shooting

Molson Coors shooting

Just after lunch last Wednesday, violence erupted in Milwaukee, WI at the famous Molson Coors factory, when an employee walked in with a loaded firearm and began shooting, leaving 5 victims and the shooter deceased. The violence is another in a string of shootings in the workplace that has corporate leadership wondering what their role is in limiting these acts of violence.

The victims in the Milwaukee Molson Coors shooting were identified as Jesus Valle Jr., 33; Gennady Levshetz, 61; Trevor Wetselaar, 33; Dana Walk, 57; and Dale Hudson, 60. The shooter, electrician Anthony N. Ferrill, 51, is deceased as well. Those victims, Ferrill’s coworkers, are remembered by the dozens of friends and family they left behind, as well as a community rocked by violence. Molson Coors chief executive Gavin Hattersley said in a news conference, “They were husbands, they were fathers, and they were friends. They were a part of the fabric of our company and our community, and we will miss them terribly.”

While many acts of violence in the workplace are perpetrated by former employees, Anthony Ferrill was a current employee of Molson Coors. Ferrill worked in the building’s utilities department. While authorities have not established a clear motive for the shooting, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ferrill had a history of dispute with his coworkers that many have speculated finally came to a head in the events leading up to last week’s shooting. The dispute may have had racial overtones, with Ferrill accusing other employees of discriminating against him in the workplace. He had suspicions that other employees were trespassing at his home, bugging his electronic devices, and disturbing his property. With the exception of one man, Ferrill had previous confrontations with all the victims, yet police have declined to comment on how the shooting occurred.

When shocking incidents of violence like this occur in the workplace, it’s not uncommon to hear from leadership in the organization that they are ‘shocked,’ or ‘astonished’ at the events that have taken place, or that the violence was perpetrated by a member of their organization. The reality is that active shooter events and other forms of violence in the workplace can usually be anticipated and prevented if leadership is not asleep at the wheel.

Most workplace crises, from violence to theft, can be traced back to faulty internal operations. That’s why so many corporations are seeking to have their daily operations evaluated by independent investigators and risk assessment firms. These investigators come into your business and begin examining hiring processes, onboarding materials, employee engagement, and the turnover rate in an attempt to identify the problems that cause frustration within the organization. In the unfortunate example of Molsen Coors, there was obviously room for more supervision with regards to intra-employee conflict. If the alleged intra-employee conflict had been given more attention, it might not have ended in violence.

Corporate Culture Audit investigators can provide leadership with the insight they need to improve their daily operations. Investigators can review hiring protocol, identifying risk factors and lack of oversight. They can review security systems, both in cyberspace, and at brick-and-mortar locations to identify weaknesses that would leave the company vulnerable to attack. These are measures that could have prevented the violence that broke out at Molson Coors, and they can protect your company, too.

If your corporation or organization needs a corporate culture audit, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our corporate culture audit program. Our program is built to fit businesses of any size and is customizable to fit you investigative needs. Call 317-951-1100 or visit us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com

Former Wells Fargo executive slapped with $17.5 billion in fines

Former Wells Fargo executive slapped with $17.5 billion in fines

John Stumpf has been slapped with the largest fine ever levied against a single individual in litigative history.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a division of the Treasury Department in the United States, has finally stuck a blow against one of the most reckless financial institutions in the nation, Wells Fargo. This federal department has linked a former chief executive of Wells Fargo with compulsion on the part of leadership to encourage Wells Fargo employees to set up fraudulent accounts that would hold extracted fees from customers.

John Stumpf, the former executive in question, has been slapped with a monumental fine totaling approximately $17.5 million. The extent of the misconduct was so severe, that the OCC also banned Stumpf from the banking industry for the rest of his life. He was not alone—a former head of banking at Wells Fargo, Carrie Tolstedt is also facing a fine of $25 million.

The Office of the Comptroller of Currency has also issued a notice which argues that Wells Fargo has engaged in toxic business practices over the last ten years, compelling employees to exhibit “serious misconduct” in order to meet “intentionally unreasonable sales goals.” The notice went on to say that the corporation operated within an environment of malignant leadership, indicated by “…an atmosphere that perpetuated improper illegal conduct.”

Wells Fargo’s head of corporate investigations testified before the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, informing them that there was hypervigilance on part of leadership with regards to sales quotas, but lethargic oversight with regards to illegal sales practices. It was apparent to the corporate investigator that leadership was indifferent to how employees met sales quotas, as long as those quotas were consistently met. Lower-level employees were made accomplices—single cogs in a large clockwork corporate fraud.

As the saying goes, “the fish stinks from the head,” and the litigative implications of these proceedings have indicated Wells Fargo reeks of poor corporate culture. Regardless of whether or not it is healthy, corporate culture moves in a cycle, with cause-and-effect factors that can often be traced back to leadership. Not only should leadership be an example for the entire corporation, but their interpersonal conduct within the workplace directly effects their employees’ engagement and productivity. Executives who impose unreasonable or unattainable goals on their employees are setting them up for failure, absolving themselves from responsibility when goals are not met. This leads to a toxic, high-pressure work environment where employees don’t just feel unsupported, but also devalued in the eyes of their employer. Employee engagement goes down, and consequently, so does productivity. This frustrates leadership, which then reacts by tightening their grip, beginning the cycle anew. If your corporation experiences persistent problems with leadership misconduct, it’s definitely time for a corporate culture audit. Corporate culture audits are like checkups for your business. Independent investigators come into your business and evaluate all operations—communication, record-keeping, hiring processes, and employee engagement. They identify the cause of these malignant symptoms and provide the corporation with expert recommendations that will ultimately propel their organization forward. If your corporation needs a corporate culture audit, call Lauth Investigations International today at 317-951-1100 to get a free quote, or contact us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com