We’re now two months into the new year of 2015, we’ve already seen a number of clients with cases that fall into the “scams, schemes and broken dreams” category. The number of these cases coming into our four offices (now five, we just opened a San Francisco office) has steadily increased over the last few years.
We have written extensively on this subject, spoken on TV and radio and lectured throughout the United States on the notorious and unscrupulous “con men and women” who prey on a generally unsuspecting public. It is frustrating after 44 years as a Federal agent and private investigator, to know what the reality of the situation is, and that we haven’t even put a dent into this problem.
Some might ask why would we should care, given that clients come in, pay you a retainer and fees in an attempt to get their money and lives back. That is true enough, but the pain and suffering of these clients is every bit as real as telling them that are in stage-four cancer. With cancer you know who the enemy is.
Every day, hundreds of people make the decision to place their hard-earned money (and often what little retirement savings they have) in the hands of someone they know nothing about. Uncle Charlie or Cousin Mary recommended them, so they must be good. Why wouldn’t you consider spending a few hundred dollars with a private investigator to perform a background check on the person and/or their company? The alternative is to sit across the table with your spouse and cry over your broken financial and retirement dreams.
Many people are hesitant to invest in the stock market or a respected financial planner, yet their financial game plan is rooted in gleaning extra money and interest from variants of the same scams being used over and over again in this country.
When you invest in something that has a 15% return, send your money to Nigeria, give personal information over the phone, become involved in offshore tax avoidance plans, pay fees to get lottery winnings, help your grandson get out of jail with bail money sent via Western Union, or send money to an Internet lover who you have never met because they are dying or have an investment opportunity – it might be time to question your decisions.
We turn down 9 out of 10 of the financial fraud cases that are presented to our offices. Realistically, what can any private investigator do for you, if you’ve sent your money to a con artist in a far off land, or wired funds to someone on Craigslist? You can’t be serious about getting that money back.
As far as I’m concerned, any private investigator that takes those cases is continuing the fraud.
The cases we take are done so with an (1) investigative plan, (2) a specific timeframe, and (3) a precise budget. Most of these cases have some hope of pursuing the perpetrator in a civil case to get money returned. Many times, even that is a fairy-tale, and we are left with only pursuing the subject in a criminal case.
Simply Google “current scams” from time to time. Educate yourself as to what cons are going on at the moment. Most people don’t even Google a persons name or company before handing over money, yet often search results are returned that indicate the subject/company is under investigation by some three-letter agency of the government. And that search is free!
Here are some others sites you may want to read and review: