It’s not unusual for people that have been victimized or targeted by scammers to contact our offices.
But over the past few months, there has been an alarming trend with these calls: Con artists have been using social media platforms to extort relatives of missing persons.
This particular scam has reached such an epidemic proportions that the FBI has issued a warning about this activity. These warnings are routinely issued by the FBI in the form of a public service announcement and originate through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
In my professional career, I’ve seen just about every sort of scam imaginable. I’ve written about how most scams are variants of existing, time-tested ones. But even I was shocked at just how low the bar could go on this one, targeting people that are already going through a very stressful time.
In general, there are two types of missing person cases that we help with at Martin Investigative Services. The remainder of this post outlines each type, how the cases work, and the specific costs involved for each.
The first type of missing person case involves someone looking for a friend or relative with whom they have lost contact.
There is no nefarious activity or criminality involved. We take these cases very seriously as we are often the last best hope to find a person. As we are known for stating, “If we can’t find them, they won’t be found“.
The initial criteria for us accepting a case is for the client to have a first and last name. If the name happens to be a common one, we need at least one of the following three items:
- date of birth
- a social security number, or
- a last known address within ten years.
We charge $495 for this locate service, and we offer a full, 100% money-back guarantee.
The second and more distressing type of missing persons case occurs when someone has disappeared off the face of the earth.
Family members that contact us typically get little or no help from the law enforcement community, as they are usually overworked and understaffed to handle the dozens of cases a week that are filed.
We accept only 1 out of 10 cases presented to us – for a variety of reasons.
We are the only known private investigative agency that works these cases on a flat fee charge of $9,500. This is beneficial because we are motivated to find the missing person as soon as possible. Most other firms charge by the hour, and there is no cap on the number of billable hours or expenses.
We are very fortunate to have our own proprietary in-house computer system called US UNITE. The database is used to locate friends and family members, missing or disconnected subjects, extensive background checks and asset searches.