Special guest Thomas Martin joins Adam on the Water Cooler Talk Podcast to discuss protecting your online reputation from a stubborn ex, the costly impact of drug trafficking and how geofence data could change the future of law enforcement.
A transcript of the interview follows:
Adam: Hey, hey, Water Coolians. Welcome back to another episode of Water Cooler Talk. I hope you are all in a place where you’re able to stay safe and healthy, you are keeping sane, and most importantly, trying to find as many positives as you can in a time like this. I believe that to be very, very important. But as for us here at Water Cooler Talk HQ – I guess I shouldn’t say us. It’s a solo enterprise. But I’m keeping to that idea of providing you normalcy in a time of un-normalness.
I’ve been so grateful to see an uptick in downloads during this time. So, thank you for taking the time to indulge in my little passion project here. I’m always striving to give back and provide you with amazing content, fun and informative stories, and beautiful, insightful, and soulful guests. And not to toot my own horn, but I think I nailed it this episode.
Today, we are joined by Thomas Martin. Tom was a former federal agent with the DEA, and now he runs one of the top private investigative firms in – I would say – and, you know what? I’m gonna say it – in the entire world. I shared my thoughts on it multiple times before, but I believe we really need to start becoming very aware as technology begins to be inundated in a vast majority of our everyday lives, just how our personal online data is being handled and by who.
Who has access to that data – data, data, whatever you pronounce it as? Tom, as someone who has been in that space for a few decades, was able to bring forth a multitude of knowledge in that sector. So, in this episode, we discuss protecting your online reputation and how to respond to a stubborn ex spreading false rumors about you on social media. We dip into Tom’s DEA past to talk about drug trafficking knuckleheads and the current situation in Venezuela. And then, finally, we end our conversation bringing to the light geofence data. Look it up people. And what that can mean for the future of law enforcement investigations.
By the way, the beginning of this episode begins in the middle of Tom discussing growing up in Minnesota, something we both share in common. But even though it is my job, I did not press the record button. So, you will literally jump into the middle of our conversation about growing up as a kid in Minnesota. It wouldn’t be Water Cooler Talk, it wouldn’t be me hosting the show without a few slipups.
So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, this is Water Cooler Talk Episode 33 titled Nun Smuggler with Thomas Martin. Enjoy.
Tom: And so, it was a natural place for us to gravitate. And so, I have fond memories of Rochester and growing up there, and going to St. Francis School. And then, I spent one year at Lourdes High School. I remember the cold weather, and the mosquitoes, and the good times.
Adam: Yeah, that’s what – yeah, we haven’t – with, obviously, the quarantine we haven’t been able to get out and really enjoy the warm weather too much.
Tom: I remember, as a young man, one of my first businesses was to do a paper route. And I started in the summer. And I thought, “This is pretty easy.” And little did I know that when November/December rolled around, I was really gonna earn my money. So, those are some not so fond memories of delivering the papers.
Adam: But it is – it’s cool to have that connection. You spent, what – I think you said to age five to 14, those – I would say, the most vital years of childhood, where I grew up as well. That’s an interesting connection.
Tom: Well, it was – a lot of things happened. My mom gave birth to twins in 1955. And they were one of the largest sets of twins every born. They were born at Saint Mary’s hospital there in Rochester, and they weighed 17 pounds together. So, we got a lot of publicity. And I remember as a young man, going down to the Mayo Clinic when a lot of the baseball players would come in for their annual physicals. We used to have baseball cards with Mickey Mantle, and Yogi Berra, and Enos Slaughter – a lot of the Yankees. And they would sign them all.
And, of course, in those days, we just put them on our rear tire of our bike and made the clicking noise. And when we left in ’61, my dad made me throw them all out because he wasn’t gonna tote them all the way back to California. So, I always told him that he threw away a small fortune.
Adam: Yeah, he threw away your retirement fund there.
Tom: Oh, my gosh. Certainly a good couple years’ retirement. For sure.
Adam: All right. Well, let’s jump into the first story. And you know what? They call Minnesota the Little Canada, the southernmost province, so that’s how we’re gonna transition into our first news story. This is from Global New Canada. Vancouver woman ordered to pay ex $200,000.00 after trashing his reputation online. Brandon Rook, a Vancouver resident, successfully sued his ex-girlfriend Noelle Halcrow for more than $200,000.00 after finding she had damaged his reputation online using Instagram and other websites claiming he was out of – he was an out of control drunk, a cheater, and carried STD’s.
Noelle, a self-described social media influencer with over 17,000 followers, began the online attack against Brandon following a pair of breakups between the couple after about a year of dating. Justice Elliott Myers, who was responsible for favoring in the direction of Brandon stated, “Halcrow, Noelle, mounted a campaigned against Mr. Rook, Brandon, that was as relentless as it was extensive,” and that she was motivated by malice.
During the trial, Noelle did not testify or present any evidence, instead going for the age-old claim of her defense, as someone else had made the posts attacking Brandon. Her argument was obviously rejected by Myers. Justice Myers stated, “The evidence is clear and compelling that Ms. Halcrow did in fact put the posts on the websites. Myer also pointed to evidence that showed the posts had originated from the same IP address where the social media accounts had been created, and were composed in a writing style similar to that of other social media posts by Noelle.
Going even one step further, Myers relied on text messages Noelle had sent Brandon, openly discussing taking the posts down and threatening to put new ones up. In determining the damages awarded to Brandon, Justice Myers noted that the amount must be high enough to communicate the severity of harm to the plaintiff’s reputation while noting the aggravated damages can be appropriate in cases motivated by spite and malice.
So, Tom, in those initial few years after you retired as a federal agent, you talked about constructing your own database and information from a floppy disk in the early ’80s, and during that decade as the world discovers the internet, and then the eventual internet reveal in 1991. What have you seen change when it comes to online profiles and personal information available online?
Tom: Well, when I first started the private investigative business, there was really no – obviously, no internet. And I couldn’t take the computers from the Department of Justice. So, we did start our own, as you mentioned, with the floppy disk. And that has now grown into a system called U.S. Unite. And it probably one of the foremost databases on the planet earth now that you can get information.
In the ’80s, it was simply civil and criminal records from Southern California, primarily the Los Angeles area. So, if I had a client that wanted to do a background on somebody in Minneapolis, we couldn’t help them. Today, we cover all 50 states – every city, every county, in every state that we can actually buy the information from.
So, to answer your question specifically, if I was to do a report – what we call a U.S. comprehensive report – on someone that is just say in their 30s or 40s, that report could contain up to 100 pages. And it is astounding when people get them. Many times it’ll have civil records, criminal records. It’ll have your complete address history. It will confirm dates of birth, Social Security numbers. It’ll give us some relatives, go through all – a lot of your finances. People are surprised to know that it’s public record to have bankruptcies, notice of default, judgements, task leans, and any problems with the IRS.
And it goes on from there. So, it’s pretty extensive and sometimes shocking to the clients when they do receive them.
Adam: It’s – you start to realize how much of your information is really out there. From my own experience, I grew up in the birth of social media, per se, when my development stages were at the most spongy in my brain. I had that before and after of, this is social media before and this is social media after. And we saw that massive change of people realizing how much of their privacy isn’t actually private when it comes to online.
I think I was nine or 10 when MySpace first hit a million monthly users. And I remember people were very open about what they posted on there. They were pretty much posting, “I ate a sandwich. This is my thoughts on this. This is my thoughts on that.” Then, we see Twitter come around in – 2006, I believe Twitter came into existence. And now, we’re seeing – originally people were very open about what they were tweeting, and now we’re seeing, what, 14 years later some of those tweets are biting those people in the butt because they didn’t realize that sharing this information so early in the game can come back to – once again, bite you in the butt.
Tom: Well, I think you make a really good point. Not only is there the intelligence data that we can give to a client, or if somebody’s thinking about getting married. We can give that to one of the parties. If somebody is thinking about investing, you might want to do a background on the person you’re giving your money to, or the company that is going to be holding that money. Corporations now not only hire us for that raw data, but – I think your listeners would probably already know – but you can’t believe how many people we are actually doing deep dives on social media platforms.
When you have, let’s say, 10 people applying for one position, and they’re all qualified – they’re all about the same. So, the corporate executives, they wanna eliminate somebody from that list. And one of the ways they do that is when we find that maybe when they were 18, or 19, or 20 on Spring Break down in Cabo San Lucas, they decided to take their top off and hoist a couple of glasses of tequila, or a couple of shots of tequila. Well, that will eliminate that person immediately from consideration. And those don’t go away. So, we tell our younger clients, “Be very, very careful what you’re posting because it’s not going to go away.”
Adam: Well, definitely, even in this online dating world – I mean, it’s so easy to do just the real easy deep dive on somebody you’re potentially going to meet for a date. I’ve definitely done it a few times. I know definitely a ton of girls who have done it as well, just to feel safe and to feel like you’re meeting with someone who is who they say they are online. And it’s so easy to find out so much information about someone just from a username, or a phone number, or just from a Facebook provide. So, yeah, it’s definitely – I mean, I’ve definitely a few deep dives on potential dates just to make sure I was safe and this person was who they say they are.
Tom: Well, you’d be surprised in – from the chair that I sit in every day, about 90-95% of the people that call our office, or email us, or send a text will find out that the person that they’re dating or thinking about dating is not really the person that they think it is. Many of these people have an agenda, and it’s primarily money. And so, you will find that they’re using the wrong name. They have somebody else’s picture. They have a phony address. They’re using burner phones. And any of the IPO addresses they have are just fake.
It only costs a few dollars with any decent private investigator in your area to look up. So, I tell my clients, “Before you wanna engage a person, or even think about going out on a date, or certainly before you ever travel to meet with people, I think it might be a good idea to spend a few dollars and see if in fact any of the things they’re telling you are true.”
Adam: Yeah. We had a previous story in another episode with Jennifer Dougherty talking about how a woman was roped into becoming a getaway driver on the first date. And it could’ve been – you know what, just a little information, a little investigation, and she may have been able to avoid that situation.
Tom: Oh, my goodness. I wasn’t aware of that. That must’ve been a wild ride for somebody to become involved in something like that. My goodness.
Adam: Yeah, and as you talk about – we have this ever changing landscape of social media and online privacy. And when you do bring in clients, how do you work towards instituting legal data searches that keep your business and client in the clear? Say, Brandon from the story wants to hire your services to prove Noelle is defaming him online? First off, is this a case you would even take? And if so, what are the legal ramifications that might arise in a case like this?
Tom: Well, we would take the case, but it wouldn’t come to us first. So, Brandon’s gonna have to prove his damages. In a case like this, the lawyers will tell you that they’ll be called aggravated damages. And so, if he can prove the case, as apparently he did, then the judge has to say, “Okay, what is going to be the punishment? And what’s gonna be the deterrent for her never to do it again, or for people who are looking at the case to make sure they don’t do it?”
That case, when I read it, was unusual because it was the male in this part who was doing the suing. In the vast majority of our cases, it’s the female who is doing the suing. In fact, I would venture to say it’s somewhere between 85-90% of those cases. And you will find – or, at least, in my business, the women are a little more forgiving. They’re a little more accepting. And they have this ability to move on.
If you’re dating a male who sometimes is a control freak, egomaniac, and they don’t wanna give it up, their revenge abilities is – far exceeds that of most of the female clients that we have. A lot of times the – in these cases – I was glad to see that Brandon was able to take it to court because it’s not an inexpensive proposition to get a lawyer and to prevail. Unfortunately, in the courts – and I’ve had dozens and dozens of these cases – some of the judges may say, “Well, boys will be boys.” And they just dismiss it out.
So, it’s pretty clear-cut. You either have the evidence or you don’t. And that’s why any good PI with an attorney should be able to evaluate your case in 15-20 minutes. It’s not a hard task.
Adam: Well, and I don’t know if you know the statistics on there. We might have to do corrections on it, but I think I read somewhere where 80-90% of court cases end in a plea deal, or a plea bargain, just because it’s a lot cheaper than actually going to the entirety of court and getting lawyers and getting that whole thing. So, it’s interesting to see that this was a case where Brandon went all the way and then got his cash money.
Tom: Well, I think you make a good point. And I think the point that I would make in this case – the reason it probably went that far is the fact that Noelle was a little stubborn. I think if she had to do it all over again, and arbitration was offered where they actually had the ability to look at the evidence – maybe her attorney wasn’t versed in how much evidence they did have. I’m sure that he would’ve settled rather than go to trial. I’m sure the lawyer cost him, I would guess, anywhere from $25,000.00-30,000.00, especially if they went to trial.
Adam: Yeah, I think it was $38,000.00 for lawyers and consultants.
Tom: Oh, okay. Well, that was a lucky guess.
Tom: So, I think – at the end of the day, you have to know when to fight. And any good private investigator, or any good attorney, should be able to give you a definitive answer. Don’t hire somebody who’s going to be wishy-washy. And they should be able to tell you exactly how long the case is going to take, and what’s it going to cost, and what could be the outcome. Those are pretty easy to do. And then, you make your decision if you wanna move forward.
Adam: Yeah. And I know, jumping off your point on Noelle being stubborn, I think this was a case where, as somebody who’s on social media, you sometimes don’t realize your reach. And you’re like, “Oh, it’s nothing. People are just gonna forget about it.” But then, you’re blasting someone to 17,000 people. It’s gonna affect someone differently if they’re in the public eye or they’re a very private person. But still, that’s 17,000 people that are receiving these slanderous messages that put somebody’s reputation against the wall. And in this case, they were lies.
Tom: And then, I wonder how many of those 17,000 retweeted it or sent it to their friends who thought it was funny, or whatever. So, I think people have to sit back, take a breath, before you hit that button and send stuff because it is becoming a very litigious society when it comes to that stuff. And there’s a lot of lawyers that will take these cases – good, bad, or indifferent.
Adam: I definitely agree with that 100%. So, Tom, in this case, Justice Myers, as we talked about, awarded Brandon $200,000.00 in general and aggravated damages and another $38,000.00 for lawyers and consultants, to be paid out by the ex-girlfriend Noelle. Do you believe this monetary punishment handed out fits the crime?
Tom: I do. I’m not sure exactly of all the damages, but what I read in the case, I certainly think it merited at least the $200,000.00. I was a little surprised, I must say, that they did not take the lawyer fees out of that amount. So, this judge –
Adam: That they added it on extra.
Tom: They added it on extra. Normally, they say, “Here’s the amount. Here’s your money.” And you go from there. And then, you negotiated with your lawyer. And so, to add on that, it must’ve been, in the eyes of this judge, pretty serious.
Adam: Yeah, no. I was interested to hear your thoughts on this because you obviously have tons of experience when it comes to court cases and dealing with the legal system. Because, for me, I looked at it as – as I talked about, this is a question – Justice Myers had to question what is the price of a human’s reputation. And that could vary vastly by the person that it is. If you’re someone who – you’re a social media influencer, your reputation is worth a lot for you because that can affect your monthly earnings and how much business you get.
But if you’re someone who’s private and you’re not on social media at all, it’s not gonna affect you as well. So, I was very interested to hear your point. Because I was just like, “I don’t know what you do with this? You’re putting a price on a human’s reputation.”
Tom: Well, I think one of the things that they don’t mention in any of the articles that you’ll read is how did the judge come to that amount. Now, I don’t know if Noelle is a multimillionaire. Then that amount of money would be a slap on the wrist, right? Now, if Noelle is a hardworking person that is just in mainstream America trying to make a living like all of us are, then that amount could be astronomical. So, now the question for Brandon is, “How do I collect?” And he’s now gotta get somebody – usually a private investigator – who does asset searches. And he’s gonna have to find assets that he can seize or money that he can attach.
So, my guess is that, at the end of the day, he got the attorney fees, which was great. Whether or not he ever will get his “pound of flesh,” or the $200,000.00 – my guess is, he won’t get a lot of that money.
Adam: Yeah, I imagine – obviously, going after assets and then garnishing wages would be the two more popular things for him to get that amount. But I think it’s one of those things where, yeah, I don’t think he’ll ever get that full amount. But for him, I would imagine it’s just a win personally to say, “Hey, this ex-girlfriend attacked me online and the justice system backed me up on this.”
Tom: There is something in victory, whether you get the actual money or not. So, I think it – to look at a case like that, he’s probably pretty happy. And I would imagine the judge, giving that amount, maybe she does have some assets. So, hopefully, he will prevail.
But the only way he will prevail is now he’s gonna once again hire a private investigator, and that’s gonna be expensive. Bank searchers have to be done under strict rules and regulations, what they call the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, GLB Act. And you just can’t go out and use subterfuge anymore and fake it at a bank and try to gag people with their Social Security numbers. Those days are long gone. So, it’s probably the single most difficult task for a private investigator, is in that – finding somebody’s assets.
Adam: And then, a final question here, if for example, in a somewhat similar case, or even in the same realm – I know you mentioned in the past 40 years you performed over 33,000 marital surveillance cases – come across your desk and everything about it says this is gonna be a case you guys wanna take on. The question I was interested in is how do you know you’ve gotten to a point where you feel comfortable confronting a client with the information you’ve gathered?
In the cheating spouse portion of your online ebook Investigator Confidential, you mention the story of Jane, in which it wasn’t until the 10th time of following her husband you caught him cheating. In your experience, what makes you go say the seventh, eighth, ninth time when those initial six or so the husband has been, as you said, nothing but a saint?
Tom: Well, I think, to be perfectly candid, that was a very unusual case for us. So, if we’ve done thousands and thousands of surveillances, when it comes to marital stuff, I think we have some statistics that are pretty rock solid. And most of the top private investigators in the country will tell you the same thing. So, when we have somebody come into our office – and 80% of our clients in the martial surveillance are women, so – and 20% are men. We catch 97% of the people we follow within the first four to eight hours.
So, the norm is one or two days is all we have to work. It’s very unusual to go past that amount. So, the difficulty then becomes how do we bring the news to a client? And early on, I was shocked. I wasn’t too shocked in my DEA days and I didn’t think I’d be shocked in the private investigator world. But one of the first clients, I brought the female in, I showed her the videotape, and she actually lost her stomach and threw up in my office. It became a gut wrenching, terrible experience for her.
So, it was at that time I decided – and tried to train private investigators over the next 30 or 40 years, to say, “Our job is just not to show the tape and then escort them out of the office.” We now must give them a good lawyer, possibly family counseling, possibly their kids are involved. Make sure they get a good forensic accountant. Because the statistics will show us that, if a woman catches a man cheating, about 30% of the time they wanna get divorced. Another 30-33% of the time, they’ll go to counseling. And 33% of the time, they don’t know what to do.
Now, when a man hires us and we catch the wife, pretty rock solid – 99.9% of all these men will get divorced. So, when somebody walks in and says, “What did you find?” “Well, we found that your wife was at the No Tell Motel with Billy Bob, and here’s the video, and here’s all the pictures.” And he might come back and say to us, “I might get counseling. I might try to save the marriage because of the children.” We look at this guy like he’s a four-headed monster. You’ve gotta be kidding me. Because the men don’t have the DNA gene to forgive the wife. It’s just not gonna happen.
So, eventually they will get divorced. And those few that say they’re gonna work it out, it never happens. They can’t stay with them. It’s – those stats have held since 1981 and been very, very consistent.
Adam: Well, yeah, I would imagine it’s very tough, if you’re in a – I think you even mentioned if you have a pretty good inclination that your significant other is cheating and then you have a list of things that might help prove that claim before going to a private investigator, I would imagine it’s very tough to have someone that you love with all of your heart and then find out that they’re going behind your back and being mistrustful or un-trustful towards you. So, I’d imagine, yeah, it can be a pretty interesting reaction to getting this news.
Tom: Well, you can almost take this to the back that, when somebody – a male or female – picks up the phone and actually dials a private investigator’s office, the women have what they call women’s intuition. She’s 100% right. She’s not crazy. She doesn’t have to believe what her husband’s been telling her, that it’s all in her head and she’s imagining it. She wants to get some finality. And that women’s intuition is a powerful tool. Same thing with the men, only men we call it a gut reaction. When a man picks up the phone and calls us, the same stats are true. It’s just whether or not we’re gonna be able to catch the spouse.
And for your listeners, there are certain signs that have changed a little bit over the years. And we have 20 signs to know if your mate is cheating. Now, what I tell people when we – be happy to provide them at no cost. It’s on our podcast listener page that your listeners can go to. And they can read the 20. Now, if you read the 20 and you get one of them, or possibly two, don’t go crazy, okay? It’s probably not the end of the world.
But, as I’ve told many people, if you have four or five of those things that are on our list and they’re – and you’re checking them off as, “Yep, that’s my husband,” and, “Yep, that’s my wife,” well then you’ve got a problem. And be very, very careful who you use in your area for that private investigator to do that work. It only represents about 6-7% of our business, but we take that part very seriously because whoever your client is is gonna make lifechanging decisions based on the information that we get. And that will affect sometimes the person’s family that they’re having the affair with.
They might have two or three kids, and now we’ve got four adults, and six kids, and maybe corporations or assets galore. And it – there’s no winners in it. Let me just tell you that. No winners at all.
Adam: No, yeah. It’s definitely interesting to see that side and to see that you’re really putting in the time to make sure you have the best interests at heart for your client.
I would like to welcome to the show Tom Martin. Tom is a private investigator and President of Martin Investigative Services in Newport Beach, California. Prior to becoming a private investigator, he spent 12 years as a federal agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration, the DEA, or the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, before multiple agencies merged into the DEA at its establishment in 1973. Recognized as an expert in federal, state, and local courts, Tom has utilized his extensive investigative background, a master’s degree in public management, and four years spent studying to become a priest to direct his agency to the forefront of the private investigative community.
He has also authored two books, If You Only Knew, which is now the free ebook that I mentioned, Investigator Confidential, and Seeing Life Through Private Eyes, in which he shares a wealth of experience and insider information. Tom, welcome to the show.
Tom: Thank you, Adam. It’s great to be with you.
Adam: One of the topics we’ll discuss in a later story is the idea of accessible online information. We even touched upon it a little bit in the first story with Brandon and Noelle. Can you go a bit more in depth about how you and your team would go about finding more information about someone in an online space, and how, as you mentioned in a blog post on your website, cell phone numbers are becoming your new Social Security number?
Tom: Well, there’s two areas that we can access our own inhouse computer system, relative to clients’ wishes. First, is what we call a locate. So, a person will come to us and say, “I haven’t seen my friend, my relative. Can you find them with your system?” So, our criteria is very simple. We start with a name. So, if we have Adam Schultz, that’s gonna be a tough one to do, so we’re gonna need one of three things. You might be in Minneapolis, but you’re still gonna be in our system, which has billions and billions-with-a-B of information.
There might be 20 Adams in just the Minneapolis area. I don’t know. It could be more. So, how do we separate that Adam out from all the other Adams that a client doesn’t care about? Since your name is not Elmer Kadiddlehopper, we need to have one three things, and three things only. Now, people will call us up and say, “Oh, he was in the Army. He was an astronaut. He played on the 1990 championship men’s AAC football.” None of that matters.
Dates of birth, Social Security number, or a last known address within 15 years. If you don’t have one of those, we won’t take your money. The cost, because we’re a very transparent agency, is $350.00. But before you spend any money with a private investigator, you can also go to 888-US-UNITE. It’s one of our websites, totally free, give you tons of information on how to find people. Locating is probably our No. 1 thing that we do in the office, is locating people. Now, friends, family – we locate people for court cases, witnesses, etc.
The second thing that we do that is probably as popular, but maybe No. 2, if we had to list them, is somebody comes to us and says, “We wanna do an asset search.” Those are a little more extensive, and there is an entire list of things that’s included. That could be verification of 20 years of address, where they’ve been, Social Security, dates of birth verification, a list of relatives. We put in there some of your finances – just a quick snapshot. That’s called the personal profile. Any PI worth their salt should be able to do those for $50.00.
When you wanna go to the more formal report, ours is done throughout the whole United States. So, if Adam went to – left Minneapolis, and he went to Florida and lived there for a couple years, we’re gonna track you. We track everybody from the time they’re 18 on. So, that comprehensive report would give you a snapshot of all the good things you’ve done, and some of the bad things that you’ve done, and some of the categories are pretty vital when they say criminal records and it says no records found. Well, that’s pretty significant. That’s what you wanna see on there.
But it does everything from property, civil records, criminal records. There’s an index that most people don’t even know about. It’s called the U.S. Consumer Public Filing Index – contains five things on Adam, that somebody’s thinking marrying you, or getting in business with you, or maybe investing with you. And those are bankruptcies, notice of defaults, judgements, tax liens, or problems with the IRS. You have one of those five, you’re probably gonna get knocked out of a job. You’re probably not gonna get the people to invest their money. And the people walking down the aisle with you might think twice about it because once they put that ring on your liabilities become their liabilities.
And then, we go into corporations, limited partnerships, UCC filings – so, it’s a very thorough – and it’s not a document that you would get and go, “Geez, I really don’t know if Adam’s a good guy.” No. There’s no gray area in our world. You either get this document and it’s gonna tell you as much as you’re gonna know about that person from any source on the planet.
Adam: No, and I think it’s interesting because, speaking of my name, for example, I’ve been in the public space doing – in the podcast industry, releasing content, using social media since 2013. And if you search up Adam Schultz on Google, the No. 1 search is about a guy who does bronze structures of obese women. So, now I have guests contacting me and like, “Hey, are you doing these structures.” And I’m like, “No, no. That’s not me.” I’m not a very public person and I like my privacy, so it’s nice to be able to hide behind that while still having an online presence.
But, yeah, like you said, once you do a little more deep search, you can easily find anything about me. It’s – one of the things I’m always concerned about is, if you type in my number into Google, you can find out my family tree pretty much and find out where I’ve lived. And that’s one of those things where it’s like, “Oh, that’s an interesting thing to know.
Tom: Well, you mentioned the telephone number earlier. Now, when I was a federal agent, or even in the first 10 years before the internet came on that I was a private investigator, the golden thing to have would be Adam’s Social Security number or the person’s Social Security number. And that’s of some relevance today, but not so much. So, everybody goes, “Oh, I can’t put my Social Security number anywhere.”
But yet, even when we were first talking, I think you were kind enough to give me your cell number if I had any questions. Well, I can take that cell number and I can do the report that we just talked about, just from the cell number. I don’t even need your name. So, I can find your name that’s affiliated with that phone, get your address, and from that I can get dates of birth and Social Security numbers. Now, the interesting thing here, the bad guys – we can’t do it. It’s against the law. But if a bad guy gets your phone and he wants to infiltrate that phone, he can get your emails, your texts, your photos, all your information relative to when you got your doctors’ appointments.
And you can just imagine what’s in the machine that you’re walking around with. If your listeners pick up their phone, would you want that in the hands of a bad guy. Because the bad guy’s gonna take it and he’s gonna see the photo that you don’t want out. And he’s gonna call you and say, “If you don’t want that out on the internet, you need to send me $750.00.” That happens $100.00 a minute in this day and age.
Adam: You hear about it all the time on online dating.
Tom: Right. And the USA Today article that you mentioned about, that was on the front page of the USA Today, the reporter was very diligent. I must say, I think he thought I was full of maybe the – a little bit of Irish malarkey. And so, he tested the theory and he said, “Okay, you have my cell number because it’s on my card that I gave you.” So, I sent him, as he mentioned in the article, probably 150 pages on him. As he mentioned in the article, it even told me places where he visited. And that was easy to determine – as he mentioned in the article, I’m not outing anybody – he admitted that he was a gay man.
And then, all the other stuff he got, he was just shocked beyond belief. He wrote the article to say, “Hey, be careful.” Of course, everybody, when they hear the bad news from a private investigator, they say, “Well, what can I do?” There’s no ta lot you can do if your number’s out there. But I would have two cell phone numbers. I would have one that I would just keep as clean as a Safeway chicken or a baby’s bottom. Don’t put anything on it. Don’t text it. Don’t do anything on it. That’s the one that you give out. That’s the one you give to the Adams if you wanna make contact.
That’s the one you give to your family. And try to keep the other one that you maybe are texting on – keep that number private. So, when people – I really enjoy – it’s a thing I do when – I meet hundreds of people very month and I’d say the vast majority of them give me their business card and it’s got their cell number on it. And so does mine. I get it. I get why people do it. But that is Pandora’s box if the phone that’s attached to that number is your main phone that you’ve been using. So…
Adam: And I think the interesting thing with that – and I feel like my biggest concern is I’ve accepted that, dong what I do, this being a job, I’m in the public eye. The thing I’ve always been concerned about is, “Oh, from my number you can find out I had an instance of” – I do work with Human-wildlife conflict in South Africa. And I had someone who was able to find out the name of my mother and use her in a slur against me.
So, that was always the concerning thing. I’m choosing to be in the public eye, but my parents aren’t. My family isn’t. My friends aren.t So, that’s always something I’ve always been – all right, maybe, yeah, it’s smart to maybe have two separate phones and maybe keep them disconnected from family and friends that you use for business and stuff like that. But it’s always interesting to see the lengths people will go, and the ability that they have to go those links with all the personal data we have online.
Tom: Yeah, a simple locate that I just mentioned earlier, you will get your mom, your dad, your brothers, your sisters, maybe Aunt Millie, or Uncle Joe because you’ve cosigned a loan with them. So, there’ll be an entire list. And it’ll have their full names, it’ll have their dates of birth, and if you wanna just click on a name you can get their address. That’s something that the way the system – you mentioned going on Google. Totally good. Now, the difference between Google searches and a system that a private investigator might have – or maybe he doesn’t own it like we do. Maybe he has another system that he’s paying to use.
All of our stuff is what they call court ready documents. You can take those documents and you can walk into court and this can be presented into any city, county, state, or federal court. So, their pristine. You’re not guessing is Adam’s mom’s name really Millie or is it Mary. On our stuff, it’s gonna be right there and you’ll have it. You can hang your hat on the information.
Adam: Well, I have an interesting question here that this kind of conversation has brought up. So, the difference between bounty hunters and private investigators. A few years ago, these two bounty hunters came to my house looking for my mom, and it turned out they were looking for someone with the same name as her, that somehow they had gotten our address even thought that Tammy had never lived in this house. What are the differences, now that I’ve thought of it, about how a bounty hunter versus a private investigator would go about a case?
Tom: Well, bounty hunters listen to a different drum than most other human beings. And I mean that with the greatest amount of admiration and professionalism. And many times, the bounty hunters will interface with a private investigator. I’ve probably had maybe – I’ll keep it so we don’t even get close to exaggerating – maybe 50 cases with bounty hunters over the last 40 years. And basically, what they’re doing is they’re going, “Hey, do you know where Adam is?” And we just get on our computer, we click out, we give them the information, and they pay for it, and off we go.
Because our stuff will have not only a 20-year address history, but it’ll have your most current address. And our stuff will have the date you moved in and the last time you used the address. So, there’s a big difference. Bounty hunters do one thing. They go out, they capture the bad guy, and bring them in, usually because they’ve skipped on a bail. And they owe the courts money, or they owe the lawyers money, or the bail bondsman, etc. That is a very tough racket, and very dangerous.
It’s not like you’re going into corporate America like I do, where it’s going to see the lawyers, or talking to an insurance executive, or dealing with the public. Most people can do that with their eyes closed. When you’re a bounty hunter, you’re getting up and your day can be pretty stressful and very dangerous. Being a private investigator is not dangerous. It’s not like TV. Bounty hunters, they can have all that work. I want no part of it.
Adam: Yeah, because I would imagine they just have a list of Adam Schultz’s and they’re going from location, location, location, location and checking in and seeing if you’re the correct Adam Schultz.
Tom: Well, I don’t wanna get any bounty hunters mad at me, but let’s say they may not be too sophisticated in the initial steps. So, they’re really good at stakeouts and when somebody comes up and gets in a car, ripping them out of the car and putting the bracelets on them. They’re really good at that. But the initial thing of, “Where am I going to find him,” because most of the people that are bad guys, that are criminals, that are evading the law, and have all these bounties are usually people that don’t give the right information.
Adam: As you mentioned during your time in the DEA, you spent your first three years undercover in California, Hawaii, and Nevada. You mentioned having a staring contest with Charles Manson, traveling to 60 different countries to help teach and enforce drug laws, spending time working at LAX enforcing U.S. drug laws on domestic and international airlines – generally, 50 years filled with experience. Has there been a moment, a series of moments, that stood out to you as, “If I can get someone to write this into a script, it would be thrilling, and sensational, and just amazing?” Or maybe even a moment outside of your career.
Tom: Well, I did have a moment like that, and it was actually made into a TV movie, and it’s called Highway Heartbreaker. And it was one of the more fascinating cases I had. There was a gentleman named Mac Duffy who put himself off as a professional golfer. He had one suit, but he had a very nice Rolls Royce. And his MO was to go onto the streets of California, find some woman that’s in a beautiful car, and give them a motion to say, “Hey, give me your cell number.” And then, they would talk and he would eventually tell them that he was an investment banker and that he could make 18-20% on their money.
It was all a big con. It was all a big fake on his part. At the end of the day, he basically took money – and I’m talking hundreds of thousands of dollars – from nine women. And all nine became my clients. And that’s the movie Highway Heartbreaker when we tracked him down and eventually got him arrested with the local police. And it was such a great story that the producers from Oprah asked us to come on The Oprah Show and wanted us to bring three of the women to the show.
And these were all executives. These were not women who had any other jobs that you would consider – in Fortune 500 companies. Some owned their own business. And then, as we got the tickets to go back to Chicago to go on The Oprah Show, which I was pretty jazzed about, the women got cold feet and they all said, “I don’t wanna do this. I don’t wanna do this.” So, as the story goes – so, none of the clients wanted to go, so I called up the director and said, “I’m willing to go,” and they go, “Thanks but no thanks.”
So, the story really wasn’t about me, it was really about the girls. So, that’s the closest –
Adam: Yeah, got the cold shoulder from Oprah.
Tom: – I got to The Oprah Show. But, yeah, the movie is called Highway Heartbreaker and I think it’s still on YouTube.
Adam: Oh, awesome. Yeah. Listeners, if you’d like to connect and hear more about Tom, you can do so by heading to his website at www.martinpi.com. Once again, that’s www.martinpi.com. He and his team also sent over a very helpful link. Once again, you’ve been such an awesome guest with all the information. You sent over a link specifically for podcast listeners. That saves me so much time. That link, as usual, will be included the in the description of this episode.
So, Tom, before we jump into our new story, you’ve been to 60 countries. You love traveling. Most of the world is stuck inside for months right now. What’s been the trip you’ve been thinking about going on once all this craziness is over?
Tom: Well, I’ve been fortunate as a federal agent to go to 60 countries. And in the private sector, the last 40 years, I’ve doubled that. So, I’ve been to about 123-124 countries. So, some of them I can even find on a map. I remember when I was an agent they’d say, “Okay, I want you to go to Johannesburg, South Africa.” And I’d go, “Hm. How far down is that?” And I’d have to look it up. And then they’d say, “All right, I need you to go to Jakarta, Indonesia.” And I’d go, “Where?” There’s not too many places we haven’t been and I know the one that I’m looking forward to going – don’t know if we’re gonna make it, but hopefully my wife doesn’t listen to the podcast the whole way through.
But I’ve planned to go Paris, France, on our 50th wedding anniversary in October. So, although I’ve been to Paris and throughout the country, I’m looking forward to taking my – as I said, call her my first wife – on the trip. So – but every country’s different. Everything offers something different. And when you’re a young guy, fairly naïve, and they give you a book of travel vouchers and you’re off one day from Bogota, Colombia, and then from to Vientiane, Laos, it’s quite an experience to say the least.
Adam: Yeah, well, congratulations on 50 years of marriage and 50 years of business. You’re doing it well.
Tom: Well, thank you very much. It’s very kind of you.
Adam: All right. So, this next story was actually a viewer submitted story by Marvin Valdez. Before we begin this story, Tom, I’m gonna need you to make up two names for two men – any names you want. All you know of these two men is that they tried to sell drugs in Florida. So, I just need two made up names.
Tom: Jim and Mike.
Adam: Jim and Mike. All right. This is – Florida troopers find narcotics in bag full of drugs. This is from WFLA News Channel 8, Tampa Bay, Florida. Jim and Mike were arrested by Florida Highway Patrol in February after being pulled over for a routine traffic stop as the duo had been caught speeding on Florida’s I-10, which FYI, the speed limit is 70 miles per hour on that. But they were not arrested for pushing the pedal too much to the metal, but instead for not so inconspicuous drug paraphernalia.
In the duo’s car, troopers found a large amount of narcotics which included methamphetamines, GHB, which is also known as the date rape drug, cocaine, MDMA, and fentanyl. But can you guess where those drugs were found, listeners? That’s right. I already read out the answer as the title, so I guess you had to ruin the surprise. But the drugs were found in two large toiletry bags labeled Bag Full of Drugs.
In a Facebook post, the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office poked fun at the duo by stating, “Note to self, do not traffic your illegal narcotics in bags labeled Bags Full of Drugs. Our canine unit can read.” Tom, with you time in the DEA, have you found a majority of drug trafficker to be this shortsighted when trying to move drugs? Is this a common thing?
Tom: Well, I must say, Adam, when you told me about that story in the pre-interview, I said, “Oh, maybe Adam’s gonna pull one on us.” So, I actually looked that story up. And sometimes – I guess this would fall under you can’t make stuff up.
Adam: It’s one of my favorite moments of the podcast when you can have a story that you’re just like, “Did someone write this?”
Tom: Yes. How stupid can one be? But hopefully, and not to inflate anybody’s position – but in the Drug Enforcement Administration, you’re hopefully not out buying what we call nickel bags or dealing with street people. Our mission was Class I violators, those that are involved with multi kilos amounts of cocaine and heroin, and those that are involved with the Medellin cartel in Colombia, the Mexican Mafia in obviously Mexico, or in the early days, be it Europe or in Asia. But god bless the police officers on the street who are doing that because that is something that is very much needed.
I just think it’s the arrogance, maybe, of somebody who would put that on the label. And they never thought in a million years they would get caught. So, I think their problem is not only with the local guys who obviously had great fun and couldn’t wait to post this on the internet. But from my chair, I would love to follow the story to see when they go to court – now, I’m pretty sure they’re gonna plead guilty because I don’t know of any defense attorney on the planet earth that’s gonna be able to defend them.
Of course, with these guys, they may try to do it. But I can’t imagine that they will not get the maximum sentence by some judge. We call that in the business being felony stupid. So, when you’re felony stupid, you get more time for that than you will for the dope.
Adam: I’m always like – you always hear these stories. For some reason, if I was driving with these drugs around in my car, which just to be clear legally, I have never driven with drugs around in my car, I would be driving like a mom’s minivan going five miles per hour under the speed limit, practicing all of the safe traffic laws. But it always seems like, when you hear these stories, these guys are speeding 110 miles per hour and blowing through stop signs. I guess – I mean, I guess it’s just part of the life, maybe?
Tom: Well, Adam, I’m here to tell you, you probably would’ve gotten caught. Because many of the people are either – go very, very fast because they’re using drugs and they’re not thinking. And when people do is – I’m gonna try to be a good boy – and they go too slow –
Adam: Oh, yeah. Okay.
Tom: – and that’s how the low – when you go too slow and you try to –
Adam: A little suspicious.
Tom: Yeah, you’re waiting five minutes at the red light to turn right, the cops are gonna light you up. And most of them travel on roads where they know that these are traffickers. So – but it did, when you mentioned the story just now, it brought up – if I may just digress, your listeners –
Adam: Yeah, go for it.
Tom: – might enjoy. There was a contest in the DEA many, many years ago – and I won’t mention what city it was in. But they were trying to see how stupid some of the dope peddlers will be. And how close can we get somebody to bring us dope where we don’t have to leave the office? Is it possible? So, the record for many, many years was in an office, and across the street was a Kentucky Fried Chicken. And the agents left their office, walked across the street, met the dope peddlers there, and that’s where they purchased a pound of heroin, and arrested the people, and walked them across.
And that was the record for many, many, many years. And I don’t think anybody violated any rules so I’m not telling too many tales out of school. But that record was to be broken by an agent in an office – and many of the DEA offices are in commercial buildings. And this DEA agent was able to have the dope peddlers come up to his office, and come up to the sixth floor where the DEA was, and they had blanked out the DEA and put ABC company. And this dope peddler walked into the agents’ group area and sold him the dope at his desk.
Now, it might’ve been a relative of the guys you mentioned in Florida –
Adam: Yeah, maybe.
Tom: – who was maybe so stupid. But I thought maybe your listeners would enjoy that. So, sometimes you’re not dealing with brain surgeons when it comes to the low level narcotics.
Adam: No. And yeah, I was looking up creative ways people have drug trafficked, from smuggling into the interior of furniture and cars. Obviously, Frank Lucas using the coffins of dead soldiers, tunnels, avocados, catapults. You had the story of Tom Cruise as Barry Seal. So, sometimes you get the creative people, obviously that have bad motives. And then, sometimes you get these two Florida duos that aren’t the smartest bunch.
Tom: Well, it – that just reminded me of – when I was assigned the greatest job – I would’ve done this job for nothing. In fact, I would’ve paid the DEA to do this job. I was very fortunate to be selected as a group supervisor of a unit of about 30 agents, 10 LAPD, Los Angeles Police Department, and 10 Los Angeles County Sheriffs. So, we had a team of about 50-60 guys at the LA International Airport. Some of the things that you mentioned, what we saw coming through the airport – furniture laden with drugs, and animal laden with drugs.
And then, you would have people coming in that would actually swallow it – mules that would come in. And we would bring them to the office and say, “You’ve got two choices. You can either go to the hospital and have your stomach pumped or we can call the mortuary because you’re going to die once that breaks in your stomach.” And you’d be surprised how many people hang on.
And then, we had one of the more famous cases at LAX. I got a call – was sitting at home and they said, “Tom, you’d better come out to the airport.” So, I went out there and they had arrested a nun. She was actually a nun that was actually taught in the convents. And she had smuggled two pounds of cocaine from Bogota, Colombia. And that wasn’t bad enough, so Sister Mary got taken off to jail. Then, about four months later, I’m sitting in the office and they go, “Hey, Tom, you’re not gonna believe this. Sister Mary’s back.”
And they caught her coming through again. This time she didn’t have on the habit. She was dressed in regular street clothes. So, we said, “Sister Mary, what are you doing?” She goes, “Well, I needed to get this cocaine into the United States so I could sell it and then pay my attorneys on the first case.” I said, “Well, now you’re gonna need a second set of attorneys on the second case.” And unfortunately, Sister Mary got 25 years. Not a happy ending for Sister Mary.
Adam: That is not. No. It is – I mean, correct me if I’m wrong on this, but drug trafficking is a multibillion dollar industry – I would imagine, even hundreds of billions of dollars. So, sometimes these people are so money focused that they don’t care who they step over. In this case, a nun that was in need of money. So, yeah, it’s definitely a serious issue. And with that, what are some of the ramifications of drug trafficking around the globe? And from your knowledge, what is being done to prevent it?
Tom: Well, I will start off this way by saying when I wrote my last book, one of – the only thing they took out of the book of any consequence was a phrase that I put in there. I was trying to be very honest with the public and I said, “Doesn’t make me feel good as a former drug enforcement agent who was assigned to travel all over the world to eradicate these problems, that we lost the war on drugs.” We did lose the war on drugs. We are losing the war on drugs. That’s very painful when I think about some of the agents that were killed that I knew, some that are sitting in wheelchairs, some that are on walkers.
And so, when all is said and done, at the end of the day, it is a multibillion dollar business. Destruction – just now with fentanyl in this country, where thousands of people are dying every week, every month. One of the things I was very shocked at when I was an agent, I was trying to get my head around how much money is involved here. I remember being undercover in Las Vegas, and I was the moneyman, dressed in a nice suit, and a fake Rolex watch, and the diamond rings. And I was flashing $2 million in a large briefcase.
And it didn’t even phase the people that we were working on. They saw the $2 million. They went and got the dope. No big deal. The next thing that struck me is money counting machines – you would walk into a home. I can remember walking into a home in Encino, California. It’s a nice bedroom community. But the guy had four money counting machines. So, you wonder, “Okay, what does that translate into the amount of money involved in drugs.”
And then, the real topper for me once is I was in Los Angeles and we were serving a search warrant. And we kicked the door down, and we found one room in the house that just had, from the floor to the ceiling, boxes of money wrappers that had 1,000, 10,000, 100,000. A whole room of money wrappers. So, you can imagine. And I have arrested people that have had $25-30 million in their bank accounts, but it was never enough. They want more and more and more.
So, if you take the gamble, it can be worth it. But the – on the other side of the coin, the penalties now in federal court are pretty tough.
Adam: I don’t think the average person understands how much $1 billion is – $100 billion. We just had a $2 trillion stimulus package for the quarantine issue. I’ve always said – I’ve said it a few times on the podcast. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, but if someone offered me a $1 billion to sell my mother, I mean, I might consider it. That’s – $1 billion is a lot of money.
I think it’s one of those things where $1 billion and $1 million is such a huge difference that, yeah, when you get to that point where you’re making billions and billions of dollars, you don’t care about Sister Mary getting stopped at LAX or the border because it’s like, “That’s just a tiny, tiny fraction of the money I’m actually making by sending it in containers in large ships that go across the ocean.
Tom: Well, I appreciate your honesty. Most people wouldn’t be that upfront. And I hope your mom doesn’t get too offended.
Adam: She’s been on the show. She’s been on the show. I’ve told her about it. She’s not the happiest about it.
Tom: Okay. Well, obviously, she’s got a great sense of humor. I will tell you this, many times DEA agents are offered bribes. And that is not an uncommon occurrence. It doesn’t happen every day, but you can imagine. Now, just to put it in perspective, as a drug enforcement agent in say the late ’70s, I was probably making – I’m going to exaggerate here – maybe $40,000.00 a year. So, now I’m out there putting dope peddlers in jail all around the country, or going to all these places, and seeing the kind of wealth they have.
So, one day my senior partner – I was a young agent at the time – we kicked the door down and on the other side of the door was a Class I violator – as we say, a topnotch guy. And he had a briefcase. And he said, “I’ll tell you what, guys. Take some money out of the briefcase.” So, my partner – tough guy, been seasoned, wasn’t gonna buy it – but he played along a little bit. Because you don’t know if the DEA has set you up to test your integrity, to test your veracity. So, you could only engage in –
Adam: Interesting. Yeah, okay.
Tom: Yeah, only engage him for a little while. That’s all I would think, “This is a DEA guy. I’m trying to get set up here.” And I don’t mind them testing me because, in this particular case, he had $300,000.00 and he wanted to give us $30,000.00. So, my partner said, “Is that $30,000.00 each or are we gonna divide up the $30,000.00?” He said, “No, you guys can just split the $30,000.00.” And I’m thinking, “Okay, so my” – immediately what you do is you tell him no and then you call internal affairs, or inspection as we called it in the Department of Justice, and tell them you’ve gotten a bribe.
Fast forward when we went to court, very famous judge in Los Angeles, in front of a jury – because this guy pled not guilty to the cocaine that he also had – the judge said, “Excuse me,” to the United States attorney prosecuting the case. He said, “Mr. Martin, did you ever think about taking that $30,000.00?” And I, of course, with all the pompous I could bring to the courtroom in front of the jury, I said, “Oh, of course not, Your Honor. I would never take that.”
So then, he said, “Well, Mr. Martin, what if he’d offered you the whole $300,000.00?” “Oh, Your Honor, I would never take a bribe like that $300,000.00.” So then, the judge, he just couldn’t stop himself. He says, “Well, Mr. Martin, what about $3 million?” And once again, I was, “Your Honor, it’s a lot of money and it’s gonna be more than I make in a lifetime, but I don’t wanna go to jail. I don’t think a DEA guy would do that well.” “Well, finally, Mr. Martin, let me ask you, what about $30 million?” And I said, “$30 million.” I looked at the jury, I looked back at the judge, and I said, “You’re getting warm, Your Honor.”
And that is – everybody, I guess, at some point in time, you’re making $40,000.00 and somebody offers you $30 million, you at least, maybe for a second, think about it. But then, the consequences of that come into play. So…
Adam: I mean, obviously your moral judgement is gonna say, “Hey, I like being able to be free and not in jail over taking this money.” But you’re kind of – yeah, just taking that extra second.
Tom: Yeah, just to think. And I think that’s just being honest. And anybody who’s on your podcast that says that they’re not – they never thought about it, that’s what we call a lying agent to you. Because we’ve all thought about it.
Adam: Of course. And then, to finish up that question we were working on on preventing this drug trafficking, I’m not someone – I don’t have the experience you have in the drug trafficking field, but something that I found was, in somewhat of a similar vein and that I’ve had tons of experience with, is ending poaching and ending the rhino horn trade. And a part of what I’ve talked about in the past with ending both those things is a very two-pronged approach. And I’m interested, once I explain this some more, if it would work for drug trafficking.
So, the idea is that we have an illegal rhino horn trade market. So, we have a poacher who’s being paid an exorbitant amount of money to go into a natural reserve and kill a rhino for its horn. Well, if you legalize the rhino horn trade, you open it up and you start farming rhinos because a rhino horn is made out of the same thing our hair is made of. It’s the same thing our nails are made of – keratin. And as long as you cut it above the root, that horn will grow back in three years.
So, with a rhino living between 35-50 years you’ve got a good 10-16 horns out of that rhino compared to one, maybe two horns if a poacher comes and poaches it. So now, you’ve legalized the rhino horn trade market in Asian countries – is the primary use of them – and you’re flooding the market with supply. You have 10-16 horns per rhino. You have rhino farms. So, you’re flooding the market with the supply.
And then, the other pronged approach is something that you’ve seen Yao Ming do with shark fin soup, is you get people to say, “Hey, maybe we don’t need rhino horn dust to have a stronger erection.” That’s all hearsay and myth. So, you start using these celebrities and people of influence to convince the public that the demand isn’t there. So then, you have this high amount of supply of rhino horns and then you have this very, very low demand of wanting the actual horn. Poachers aren’t wanting to risk their lives for a few dollars, or a few cents on the dollar.
So, you pretty much end poaching of rhino horn. And then, once that supply is out, boom, you close off the market. So, I’m wondering if a similar two-pronged approach could be used to end drug trafficking?
Tom: Well, it’s a great question and I get it asked a lot of times. And this is how I would answer it. If we start treating the dope peddlers, whether they’re in Mexico, South America, Asia, Europe – wherever they may be – as terrorists to the land of the United States and its people, and we start using the military to take them out – and be rest assured – I spent five years with the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. and I’ve walked on the CIA insignia in Langley, Virginia. So, I know from whence I’m talking about.
It would be simply as easy as you getting up in the morning to take out these people with our military. We could annihilate them in less than an hour. We know where they live. We know where they eat. But it’s this age-old problem. Even when I was an agent traveling, I would go into an embassy – I don’t care what country. Pick any. And you’d walk in and you’d have the Department of State and you’d have the Department of Justice. And you might have an FBI office or a DEA office. And then, you have the AID office – A-I-D. Well, that’s code for CIA.
But when you walk into those, there’s two different themes. Drug enforcement would be let’s kick butt, take names, put people in jail and eradicate the problem. The Department of State is more, “Hey, can we all get along? Can we be nice to each other? Can we find a different way?” So, you had the two battles going on.
The other problem is that we’re not fighting the good fight. We could do a lot better with our military and all the intelligence that the DEA has, as long as we have an insatiable appetite here in the United States for the product, it’ll never go away. And until we maybe get away from the DEA mantra of kicking butt and taking names – and I’m all for that. I’m not putting anybody down. But it’s gotta be complimented with a program of treating addiction, treating the problems here at home. Because without that, and without knocking the enemy out at its core, you’re still gonna have this problem.
Adam: No, yeah. I think that’s a very, very good take on it. And thank you for sharing your experience – or expertise. And I think it is – yeah, one of those things where you have to deal with the before, the middle, and the after of what these drugs are doing to the users that are using them. You have to put in place – as you talked about, the war on drugs just didn’t really work. And now, we have so many people addicted to crack cocaine and all these different addictive drugs. And it’s – we have to figure out a way to help them as well.
Tom: Yeah. I don’t know what it would be like to be a DEA agent now. I mean, our goal was we got heroin, we got cocaine, a little bit of meth, and we have these – marijuana, hashish, PCP, etc., etc. Now, I mean, they’ve got drugs out there that – I mean, if you just touch it – like fentanyl? I mean, that – you just touch it, you can die, let alone they mix it with all kinds of other drugs. And the reason I mention that, Adam, is that psychologically I think we have to be a little more conscientious of the pain, and the health problems, and the mental illness of the people that are using the drugs.
And I think we can be a lot more benevolent in the country, and not enforcement, enforcement, enforcement. I mean, there’s a place for it, but until we get tough and use our military, and our intelligence, and the DEA and then compliment that with a real program – I mean, I went down to LA on a case the other day and I cut my teeth there in the late ’60s, early ’70s. I worked undercover all throughout Los Angeles. I bought a lot of dope down there. And I had a lot of agents that were under my supervision that bought a lot of dope there.
And I’ve been into court hundreds of times there. And I was actually stunned when I walked into the homeless area of about 60,000 people down there. Skid Row area. When we look for people – somebody says, “Oh, kid came out here to become Penelope Cruz, or Tom Cruise, or they’re gonna come out here to get into the music industry.” Whatever. And then, they get into drugs or alcohol, and we’d have to go to MacArthur Park, or we’d have to go to Fifth Street, Sixth Street, and we’d have to go to Chinatown, Koreatown – all kinds of different parts of Los Angeles to find him.
Now, everybody congregates in the homeless area downtown. So, it’s pretty easy to find people that are missing. But down there, I mean, it is a war zone. Nothing like I’ve seen – even in third world countries that I’ve been in. And the – some of the countries where you have just the rich and then the bottom feeders as they would say. So, there’s no middle economy. And that reminds me of what LA has turned into down there with the drugs. It’s a combination of drugs and mental illness. There’s no two questions.
And unfortunately – I wrote I blog here that I sent to the mayor of Los Angeles. They’re not even scratching the surface and it’s just gonna get worse.
Adam: Yeah, I remember – I mean, maybe two years ago we covered a story on prostitution in LA and how the local government was basically saying, “We only have enough funds to either work on helping the homeless or figuring out human trafficking and the sex trade.” And I was – that is such a – we’re in this country where it’s – this is an amazing country, but then we have to make these choices between two different issues.
Tom: Well, it is unfortunate. And I see a lot of money being wasted. And, I mean – they’ve got 60,000 people there and you get the mayor and the city council – I’m not trying to beat them up. They’ve got a thankless job as far as I’m concerned. But when you have a ribbon cutting for 10 apartments, are you kidding me? I mean, what’s the point? I mean, it’s nice that the ribbon’s there and you cut it and the band’s playing But talk about – that’s not even a Band-Aid on a heart attack. That’s just ridiculous. But they get a lot of fanfare and they have a lot more people trying to have them get money. But it’s basically useless.
Adam: Yeah, a lot of PR. And then, I mean, I think that was a good transition into what’s happening in Venezuela, and we’ll touch on that for a quick second here, with leader Nicolás Maduro – was accused by U.S. federal prosecutors earlier this month actually for participating in a narcoterrorism conspiracy by converting the country of Venezuela into a criminal enterprise at the service of drug traffickers and terrorist groups. One of the indictments accused him of conspiring with Colombian rebels and members of the Venezuelan military “to flood the United States with cocaine” and use the drug trade as a “weapon against America.”
You mentioned earlier that you’ve been down there, you’ve done some work down there. Obviously, a big part of fighting against the drug trade is corruption at the highest level that’s allowing this to happen. How do we responsibly and legally fix that corruption, or – I mean, is it even possible.
Tom: Well, let me translate what our Attorney General has done with releasing those indictments. That is just a ploy, I believe – and a pretty smart ploy – to try to get Maduro out of office. The chances of him being prosecuted, I think, are slimsky and nonesky. But he’s just a drug lord masquerading as a head of a government. I think that’s what the article that you sent me says. And that’s a pretty good description of what’s going on down there.
When I was in Venezuela – when I was sent there by the Department of Justice, and I met with the officials down there – and we were there for almost three weeks doing a school and teaching the “Venezuelan federal officers” about drug interdiction and drug identification, etc. Even at that time, they were oil rich and they didn’t care about anything else. And so, you had a class of millionaires, no middle class, and then you had the poor.
It was the second or third time in my life that I saw a garbage heap where people actually used it as a store, where they would take their kids –
Tom: – the mother would go with two kids and they would actually rummage through there. Without getting into the politics of socialism and all that, it’s not only a tough situation down there. But once the oil prices dropped, once they didn’t have that to rely on, that country was toast. I’m not too scared of Maduro. I don’t think he’s coming to the U.S. anytime soon. But they – until they get rid of him and they try to instill a democracy down there, it’ll still be a toilet.
Adam: Yeah, I know. I mean, just to make it clear for the listeners, there is a bit – a SNAFU in regards to the legal claim of presidency in Venezuela during the 2018 reelection that was flawed by irregularities. Hence, the U.S. rejected his claim as presidency. Juan Guaidó was declared president by Venezuela’s national assembly. So, there’s a lot of misinformation and who’s president in Venezuela. And I think that’s one of the reasons why there’s just so much confusion around this, especially for the Venezuelan people. It’s like, “Who am I supposed to listen to? We have two presidents right now.”
Tom: Yeah, it’s mindboggling, but you have to know, the former present who lost has one big advantage. He’s got the military. And where most people can’t eat, don’t have medicine, don’t have – forget about vitamins. They don’t even have bread. But the – Maduro’s taking care of the military down there. So, they’re living the life of luxury and they’re getting paid thousands and thousands of dollars just to protect him. I mean, could you imagine this country if we had a president and he lost the election but he refused to leave? I mean, that’s what’s happened in Venezuela.
Adam: I mean, the 2020 elections could get interesting.
Tom: Well, I – whatever you think. I don’t think that our current president, if he lost to Mr. Biden – I think he would graciously bow out and go back to his old life. I don’t think he wanted the job in the first place, but who knows.
Adam: Yeah, I’d be fine. Yeah, being a billionaire. All right, Tom. Are you ready to jump into our final news story of the day?
Tom: I am.
Adam: This is from NBC New U.S. Google tracked his bike ride past a burglarized home. That made him a suspect. And email from Google’s legal investigations support team informed startled Zachary McCoy that the local Florida police had demanded information related to his Google account. The company told Zachary that he had seven days to go to court and try to block Google from releasing the data.
Zachary, who owns an Android phone linked to his Google account and uses an assortment of Google products, including Gmail and YouTube, stated, “I was hit with a really deep fear. I didn’t know what it was about, but I knew the police wanted something from me. I was afraid I was gonna get charged with something.” Using the case number that was included in the email, Zachary searched for it on Gainesville Police Department’s website and found an investigation report on a burglary of an elderly woman’s home.
She was missing several pieces of jewelry worth more than $2,000.00. He also discovered the crime had been committed less than a mile from his house. Zachary worried that going to the police would lead to his arrest, headed to his parents’ home in St. Augustine where they discussed his options and agreed to use their savings to hire a lawyer. Caleb Kenyon was hired and learned the notice had been prompted by a geofence warrant, a police surveillance tool that cast a virtual dragnet over crime scenes by using Google location data of a user through GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular connections from nearby phones.
The warrants, which have increased 15,000% from 2017 to 2018 and 500% from 2018 to 2019, are able to help police find potential suspects when they have no leads on a case. They are also able to scoop up data from people who have nothing to do with the crime, often without their knowing, which Google has described as a significant incursion of privacy.
Confused and worried, Zachary examined his phone for any leads. As an avid biker, he frequently used the exercise tracking app Runkeeper to record his rides. The app relied on his phone’s location services, which saved to his Google account. After looking at the route the day the crime was committed, Zachary noticed he had passed the victim’s house three times within an hour.
Gainesville police, looking for leads, went to a county judge with a warrant that demanded a records of all devices using Google services that had been near the elderly woman’s home. The first batch of data would not include any identifying information, but police would be able to return to the judge with another warrant if any of the devices seemed suspicious. Obviously, as we’ve heard, Zachary’s device seemed pretty suspicious. So, Zachary’s lawyer, Caleb Kenyon, filed a motion in county civil court to render the geofence warrant null and void, and to block the release of any further information about his client.
Kenyon argued that the warrant was unconstitutional because it allowed police to conduct sweeping searches of phone data from untold numbers of people in order to find a single suspect. At this point, Google had not turned over any data that identified Zachary, but would have done so if Kenyon hadn’t filed a civil motion. Kenyon stated, “The geofence warrant effectively blindly casts a net backwards in time hoping to ensnare a burglar. The concept is akin to the plotline in many a science fiction film featuring a dystopian fascist government.”
Strong words there by Kenyon. After the filing, a lawyer from the state’s attorney office assigned to represent the Gainesville Police Department told Zachary’s lawyer that there are details in the motion to give police a second thought on the warrant and led them to believe Zachary was no longer considered a suspect. In the end, the same location data that had helped caused police to be suspicious of Zachary and name him as a potential suspect had now helped vindicate him.
Zachary says he may have ended up in a similar spot as an Arizona man who had been mistakenly arrested and jailed for murder based on data received from a geofence warrant if his parents hadn’t invested in a lawyer. Zachary stated, “It just seems like a really broad net for them to cast. What’s the cost benefit? How many innocent people do we have to harass?”
In closing, the police have not made any arrests for the burglary of the elder woman’s jewelry. So, Tom, we’ve talked about the change of this online foreground, and online profiles, and our first story. And now, this story highlights a bit more on storing personal data, that background information. Have you seen a difference in apps and online platforms storing personal data change in your time, and do you agree or disagree that we are coming to a point where these platforms, such as Google, have way too much of our personal data that can be accessed by law enforcement or the government, granted they obtain a warrant?
Tom: Well, I think the horse has left the barn when it comes to the information that’s out there. I don’t think – it’s very hard – when I talk about this, I always say try to put the toothpaste back in the tube. It’s not gonna happen. Now, geofence – and I’m glad you’re broaching this subject, because it’s an important one. And your listeners should be thankful to be able to discuss it. Because geofence is a terrific tool that can be used by law enforcement. But – and I say this having a brother on the LAPD, and he’s retired. I had a brother on the LA Sheriff’s. I had a brother recently retired as a chief of police.
So, I get that whole police thing. And I get they’re underpaid, overworked, no overtime, etc. So, any tool that they can get to get an advantage. The problem that breaks down here, that wasn’t listed by the attorney – and I think he should’ve made this case. I would’ve. Geofence is a great tool, but with it comes a lot of responsibility. And herein is where the law enforcement community, I think, misses the boat. And I’m not gonna talk about Gainesville, or Florida, or anybody in particular. But I’m talking about the main skill that these law enforcement officers need to have, and they don’t, is the art of interview and interrogation.
You collect all this data. It’s then your responsibility not to just pick somebody out to conveniently solve the crime, but it’s to use your interview and interrogation skills to make sure that the people who are not affiliated with this, who happen to be riding – like Zachary was – his bike by – I mean, can we eliminate him and not even get contacted? It’s one thing to cast the net, but that net has a responsibility. And unfortunately, I’m not so sure that the current law enforcement community, in a lot of these communities, are skilled in some of the things they need to pinpoint it.
And the fact that it’s – you can make a good case that it’s a good system because it eventually got Zachary out of trouble and it proved that he wasn’t the thing. But what’s the point of using geofence if you still have no suspects? Is it really being used properly? Is that being followed up with the right interviews and interrogation? If you see the picture that you were kind enough to send me of Zachary on his bike, with all due respect, he doesn’t exactly put fear in somebody’s heart. And I don’t think he’s done many residential burglaries in my guess.
Adam: Hey, sometimes they’re unassuming.
Tom: Well, and that – and you make a good point. And because of that – because he doesn’t look like it, maybe he was brought to the forefront. I mean, you can ruin somebody’s life doing that. How much money did he have to pay for the attorney? I’m sure the police aren’t gonna reimburse him.
Adam: Yeah, he said his parents ended up having to take out savings to pay for the lawyer. I see this as a good thing. I think technology is advancing so quickly that law enforcement sometimes is just behind the ball in it, and especially with this geofence information is – they get this information, and they have Zachary riding around this area where this crime was committed. And they’re seeing for an hour he’s in the same area. And I imagine the data points on this aren’t prefect, so it’s just a scattering of data points in their head where their lead was.
And it’s like, “Oh, okay. We have this suspicious activity around where this crime was committed.” But as you said, you have to then go to the next step of – all right, you have some information. Now, let’s flesh out that information, and making sure we’re making the right decisions on interviewing and interrogating potential suspects or potential leads.
Tom: Depending on the transmission of that data, Adam, they could actually say his bike drove past 123 Main Street in whatever city or town it’s in.
Adam: Okay. Interesting.
Tom: Yeah. And the other thing – and not many private investigators will tell you this because it’ll cost them money. But many people call us up. We get 40-50 calls – or we used to before the virus hit. People would call our office up and say, “Hey, I think my phones are bugged. Hey, I think my business has got a tap in it. I think there’s cameras in my bedroom.” It’s called an electronic eavesdropping detection sweep – very expensive, can run $5,000.00 to do a house.
And so, some people call us up and say, “I think my cell phone is bugged.” Well, let me give you listeners a little tip and a little secret. Your cell phone is not bugged. I can almost guarantee it 100%. First of all, you’re not a target of the government and it costs thousands and thousands of dollars for the government to bug a cell phone. Now, what you don’t know is – take your phone – when people call, I say take your phone. “Do you text on that phone?” “Yes. Oh, yes, Mr. Martin. I text it all the time.” Okay, within that phone, if you have texting ability, that phone can be pinged.
Now, that’s done legally by the law enforcement community and some not so ethical private investigators also can do it. And that will ping your phone and say with stunning accuracy, and almost blow your mind away, that the person is at 620 Smith Street in Germantown, Maryland. That’s how accurate it is. So, all of a sudden now the person thinks they’re being followed because their ex-spouse shows up, or somebody shows up, and they just – it’s too casual of a coincidence that they’re showing up.
Your phone’s not bugged, so don’t spend thousands of dollars with a private investigator. If you’re going somewhere and you don’t want somebody to ping your phone, turn it off. Save you a lot of money.
Adam: No, I think people often think they’re more important than they actually are. The government’s probably not listening in to what you have to say. You’re not an important person of interest. But also, too, the bugging points – and I know on your website you have a few different examples of cameras you found. I used to dog sit a bunch. And I was always worried that there’s a hidden camera here somewhere. Obviously, I wasn’t doing anything wrong, but just that feeling of – I understand why they’re doing it. It’s their house. They can do whatever they want. They’re paying me to be here.
But it is – from my privacy, it’s like, “Oh, that’s a little interesting that they can just jump in willy-nilly and spy on me in a way?
Tom: Well, they have a responsibility. In some states, they call them two-party states. In California, it’s a two-party state. So, if I’m gonna record this conversation, I have to have your permission and you have to have my permission. Same thing with a video in somebody’s house. If they’re recording the actual how you’re talking to the dogs, they’ve gotta tell you that. So, find out if your state is a two-party state.
And I understand and I appreciate it that you say, “Oh, I’m not doing anything wrong,” but it’s still kind of creepy, for lack of a better vocabulary to say, “Okay, I’m here to do a job, but you’re not here to spy on me. So, if I wanna pick my nose or blow my nose, that’s my business, not yours. You shouldn’t be recording that.” I think they have a responsibility to people and to be honest. I mean, when people come into our house, we have a security system, obviously. We don’t have cameras, but if there was, I would tell anybody who comes in that’s gonna do work on the house that they’re gonna be recorded.
But some people don’t have that same ethic. They get into the James Bond aspect of recording people and they don’t know it. So – and you make a really good point, and most PIs if they’re really on their A-game would tell people that instead of preying on their emotions and saying oh yeah – most people call us up and they go, “My phone line is clicking.” And most PIs will say, “Oh, you’ve got a problem.” Your probably not bugged because once you have a bug on your phone, they clicking will – is not a sign that you’re being monitored.
Adam: Yeah, you probably wouldn’t know.
Tom: You would – yeah, exactly. I mean, it’s the – they say it’s the No. 1 thing that – why people call PIs to find out if their phones are bugged. And really, who would do this? And who would wanna spend this kind of money? And – oh, the neighbors would. Really? There’s a responsibility. And one of the things that we say in our office is – I started this about 30 years ago. I would say, “Are you under the care of a doctor?” And they would say, “Oh, no, Mr. Martin. I’m not under the care of a doctor.” I say, “Do you think you out to be?” “Oh, no. I’m fine.” And then I’d say – then the old joke is, “Well, go ahead and write the check out and we’ll do your thing.”
But there is a certain responsibility, and I’m not sure – I don’t wanna say our office and put our guys on a pedestal because we’re far from that. But we do take it seriously when people call up and say, “Hey, is it possible that the geofence method being used by Google, that Google’s watching me?” The chances of that are – I think there’s a greater chance I’ll play for the Lakers next year than they’re gonna do that. They don’t care about you. They just don’t. So, you make a good point. But it’s hard to tell people that because they get mad at you for not taking their money.
Adam: Exactly. I’ve – doing research for this podcast, and some of the topics we’ve covered, I’ve googled very interesting topics. And it’s – even though I’ve googled those interesting topics, I’m pretty confident I’m not at the top of any radar list that people are watching me and recording what I’m googling and stuff like that. So, some people just think they’re way more important than they actually are.
Tom: Yeah. And because you’re in the public eye and because you – I mean, I’ve listened to some of the podcasts that you’ve had over the last two or three weeks, and you’re hitting a variety of different topics. And so, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. In fact, for another show, if you want me to send you your profile I’ll be happy to do that. And then, you’ll have a mountain to talk about. You’re a young man, so I don’t think there’s gonna be that much in it so I wouldn’t worry. But as you said, most people are not that high up on anybody’s list.
Adam: Yeah, hopefully not too much. As someone with – it sounds like you have a ton of – you have a lot of good, trusting relationships with local and federal law enforcement, and talking about these people who might wear a tinfoil hat at home, what could be said to those who would read a story like this with Zachary and be skeptical that law enforcement could be overacting their legal and constitution bounds?
Do you think there’s a way to find a balance between supporting law enforcement and doing a responsible job in keeping us safe and taking away violent offenders? And obviously, helping these brave men and women stay safe while doing their job, but while also respecting a citizen’s concern about the privacy of their personal data?
Tom: It’s a great question and I think it all boils down to one word, and that’s balance. The law enforcement community – I mean, I don’t know if I wanna be a street cop today driving a black and white, especially given some of the things that are happening, with water being poured on them in New York, and the thankless work that they do. I think it boils down to one thing, once you’re given that gun, and that badge, and those credentials and you swear to uphold, it has to be balanced with some objectivity.
You just can’t use a great tool like geofence and then blatantly call in 30 people. If that continues, then you’re gonna see Google will stop honoring their warrants. Google itself will stop giving them the information.. I think Google will be the actual ones that will monitor and make sure. Try to serve a search warrant, or any kind of warrant, on Google. It’s next to impossible. So, if the police don’t monitor themselves, trust me, Google will. I think Zachary was at the wrong place at the wrong time. I wouldn’t worry about that if I were your listeners – the chance of that are probably one in a zillion.
Adam: Yeah, and it’s – this show is about covering strange and interesting news stories. This is a strange news story that, like you said – very, very low chance of happening to someone else. Zachary just happened to – maybe he should get a lottery ticket after he beats the court case. But he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time with an investigation group that used this technology.
Tom: But I think it’s great that you bring it up, and it’s a topic – it’s not only informing your audience and informing the public and the people that will read it. I think it also sends a clear message to law enforcement and says, “Hey, wait a minute. You cast this net and we still haven’t found out who did the burglary?” I’m not being critical – residential burglaries happen every, what, 10-12 seconds in this country. And they’re very difficult. They’re usually people on drugs or hyped, trying to get 10 cents on the dollar for their drugs. So, I don’t blame that.
It just that it certainly sends a signal to the public about, “Oh, I didn’t know this existed.” Thank you, Adam. But what are we gonna do now to control this? And so, it puts the onus back on the police to do it right. That’s what they get paid to do, and hopefully they’ll do it.
Adam: Yeah, I think that’s a beautiful way to wrap up Zachary’s story. And then, finally, from this story – and then, we’ve already talked about it, obviously, with the first story, with Brandon. What are those situations where say I’m Zachary – would I consider talking with a private investigator? And if not, what are the more common cases you would see on a daily basis?
Tom: Well, I think a good way is to go to the investigatorconfidential.com website, or you can go to our web page that has a red arrow clearly marked that says Podcast Listeners. They can click on that and they can go to that book, or they can go see the electronic eavesdropping detection equipment and what to do. Lot of things there. But the main thing that I would have is that there are tremendous private investigators in the country, in your area, that can help you live your life smarter, safer, and saner. There’s no question about that.
So, go to the chapter – go to the 16 chapters that are listed in the book that’s online for free. We don’t want your email. Just click on it and go there. And then, not every chapter is gonna apply to you. It might apply to Mike, or Mary Jo, or it might apply one to Adam and your lifestyle – and see if that can help you, whether it be finance, security, marital surveillances – whatever’s there. If you think you can get a private investigator, then make sure there are stringent requirements on he has a license, or she has a license. That private investigator should be in good standing with the state and that person should have an office that you can go to.
It doesn’t make them a great investigator having an office, but it sure gives on peace of mind. Most people don’t think about a private investigator but there’s many – there are two or three great ones in Minneapolis that I’ve actually flown in and worked for. And there’s ones around the country. And if your listeners have a problem and they can’t – they’re not comfortable meeting Willie the PI in a bar somewhere where he wants cash, you can call our toll free number and my investigators or staff will be happy to tell you.
We’ve got investigators all over the country I’ve known for 50 years. And we’ll be more than happy to say, “I don’t think you need to spend your money. But if you do – if you’ve got a security problem in your business, whatever it is, then we’ll try to get you help and find out what the plan is, how long it’s gonna take, and what’s it gonna cost.”
Adam: Yeah, and I think it’s important, as you said, if you’re hiring a private investigator. If you’re hiring someone to work on your house, if you’re hiring a dog sitter, it’s important to get someone you can trust that you can have a good relationship with. I mean, you’ve pretty much shown this whole podcast, you’re very transparent in your business. And I think that really says a lot about building a good business and just being honest with your clients that hey, this is the situation. This is how I can help, and in a case where there’s a service this is how much it could cost. And I think that’s really important. And when you’re looking for just a good business or service to connect with.
Tom: Well, I think that’s important because there’s 100,000 private investigators in the country. Let me repeat that – 100,000. Now, how many are making a living at it and how many would you actually hire where you’re gonna make lifechanging decisions based on the evidence that they come up? And it shouldn’t be any gray area with a private investigator. He either finds the assets or he doesn’t. We either get the guy off for murder or we don’t. We either catch the mate cheating or we don’t.
So, don’t hire anybody who isn’t very upfront about how long, how much, and what’s it gonna take – or he gives you this, “Oh, I’m not really sure if I’m gonna be able to” – it’s the mattress company. I say, “Well, how do I know if it’s a good bed?” “Well, it’s a feely thing.” No, no. It’s not a feely thing with PIs. Either – you’ll know. Your gut will tell you if you got somebody. If not, call us. We’ll help you. We know who the good ones are.
Adam: Yeah, I think there was a show – I’ll have to look it up after this – but where the guy was a writer and he literally just put a post on Craigslist to say – he was a mystery writer, I think. And he just put a post on Craigslist that said, “Hey, if you wanna hire a private investigator, I could help.” And you mentioned that, if you’re looking for a private investigator, if they have a legitimate business address, it’s probably an important thing. You probably shouldn’t be finding that person on Craigslist.
Tom: Or going into a Gmail and they want cash. I mean, you can walk into our office in Newport Beach, come up to the 14th floor, see my receptionist, and ask for us and we’re all there, sitting in our conference room. So, I think it’s important in this day and age – a lot of guys are not having offices now. Everybody’s back – I’ve got a number of people that are back home and the office – doing just the opposite of what I just said. But that’s because of the virus.
But hopefully, we’ll get back and it does give the client a sense of confidence that they – in case the wheels fall off. If Adam hires someone in Minneapolis and the wheels fall off the case, you wanna be able to go back to that person and not say, “Hey, can you meet me back at the Gmail.” No, I wanna go to your office.
And another key tip – very quickly – if you hire a private investigator and they don’t do what you asked or what they promised to do, and you’re not happy, the kiss of death for a private investigator is to beef them, to write a letter to the Bureau of Security that licenses them. I guarantee you, no PI wants that. And that will settle your case almost instantaneously unless he’s a complete nutjob.
Adam: Well, Tom, I wanna thank you for taking the time to share your perspective on some of the strangest and most interesting news stories the world has to offer in a productive and meaningful discussion. Once again, listener, you can connect with Tom through his website at www.martinpi.com. Once again, that’s www.martinpi.com. As I said, we have a specialized link sent by his team for listeners that will be included in the description of this episode.
Tom, in the first of your two books, If Only You Knew, you had the quote “in traveling to 60 foreign countries I’ve been given a real sense of how much unfairness there is in the world as well as understanding how much fairness needs to be brought back into society.” The quote really stood out to me because, especially what we’re in the middle of right now. Do you mind explaining a bit more about the meaning behind that quote? And if it does, how does it or could it apply to the current global situation we’re all dealing with.
Tom: Well, that’s a good question, and hopefully I can address it. I think people in authority, be it law enforcement or politicians, sometimes we believe our own press clippings. I know the first I was in the LA Times, I was very proud to show my mother. She says, “Just remember, son, tomorrow that will be at the bottom of a birdcage.” And I went, “Oh, my gosh. That’s striking.” So, I think fairness is really the call of today, certainly in law enforcement, certainly in treating other people – I know when I got into the store now – I had my mask on yesterday and I walked in and everybody seems to be – they’re practicing the social distancing but they’re a little more friendly.
How are you doing? Everybody seems a little bit nicer. I don’t know if that’s just this part the country. I think we could all be a little more genteel towards our fellow people. And especially if you’ve got a gun and a badge, you’re just the same as everybody else. You just have the gun and the badge. So, just back off a little bit and understand that sometimes the situation that person’s in may need a little kindness, a little more genteelness goes a long, long way.
Adam: Very well spoken. And as always, thank you to all my listeners for listening to another episode of Water Cooler Talk, the only such podcast on the internet hosted by myself, and guest hosted today by Tom, where we take the strangest and most interesting real life news stories from around the world and just try and have a good old conversation about some of the ideas discussed in those bizarre news stories. And once again, ladies and gentlemen, if you would like to reach out to the show with a strange local news story, as our listener Marvin Valdez did for this episode of the podcast, or if you just wanna share some of your comments, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tom, as I alluded to at the beginning of the show, I ask my guests to close out the show because it makes my hosting job easier. So, the floor is yours. You are free to close out the show however you see fit.
Tom: Well, first of all, you’ve gotta promise me you won’t cut this part out. But I’ve really enjoyed the two hours. It went very, very fast. And I like the format of the show. It was a lot of fun. It was a lot of topics and –
Adam: Thank you.
Tom: – you’re fast pace, it’ll keep your guests on their toes. And the final thing that I would just say – and hopefully, it’s not self-serving for our office, because that’s not what we’re about. But I would really encourage your listeners that, if they’ve got any kind of life problem – and I won’t go over them again, but give some thought to hiring a world class private investigator in your area, somebody with experience, somebody maybe that’s a former agent. And just explain to them – and if you get a good sense from them, then maybe you would like to retain them. There’s a lot of good ones out there, and they can, as I said earlier, make your life a little bit easier, if not smarter, safer, and saner.
So, those are the three things we look for. And as I said, we’re not paying lip service to helping your listeners. If they’ve got a problem, trust me. I will happily do it myself, if not one of my guys, to make sure they get hooked up right with somebody in the PI world.
Adam: No, I very much appreciate you having the show. It’s such a fun conversation and I appreciate the words there. And, yeah, just thank you very much for coming on and sharing some of your stories and experiences.
Tom: Once again, I really enjoyed it. You’ve got a fun show.
Adam: Yeah. All right, listeners. Until next time, peace.
Adam: What an episode, what a guest, what a time. I know I sure enjoyed it. Once again, thank you to Tom for jumping into a remote interview to talk about these stories. And as always, make sure to support him and what he does by following the links in the description of this episode. But to the corrections.
In the first story, regarding the legal battle between Brandon and Noelle, I had mentioned a large percentage of legal cases end in a plea bargain. According to a report done by a report done by The New York Times in 2012, 97% of federal cases and 94% of state cases end in plea bargains with defendants pleading guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence. As Tom mentioned, legal cases can become very, very, very expensive, so it’s better to almost admit guilt than having to pay for a legal case to protect your innocence. Even as I’m saying that, it just sounds ridiculous. And something about that needs to change.
And then, finally, from the first news story, Tom mentioned the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, the GLB Act. It is a federal law that requires financial institutions to explain how they share and protect their customers’ private information.
In Story No. 2, in which we discussed knucklehead drug traffickers, to get a bit more clear understanding of the worth of the illegal drug trade, estimates have the probable global figure to be approximately $360 billion. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, billion-with-a-B. A lot of money happening. From that conversation, we also mentioned LA’s Skid Row. As of 2019 data, the population is somewhere near 5,000 individuals.
Obviously, with many of those individuals trying to escape society, those numbers – it’s tough to be exact on those. But to put into idea the density of Skid Row, that would be about 1,000 individuals per square mile, whereas Los Angeles, the city Skid Row is in, has about 8,000 individuals per square mile. Also, from that story, we had a short discussion on fentanyl. I’d mentioned it before, but Hasan Minhaj does a fantastic covering of fentanyl and how deadly it can be on his show Patriot Act.
And finally, the episode of Water Cooler Talk in which we have a discussion on prostitution – that episode was Episode 15, Inner Confidence, with our friend Haley Reeves. In Story No. 3, in which our friend Zachary and his bike almost ended up in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, in our conversation detailing bugging phones and hidden cameras, Tom mentioned California as a two-party state, a state in which both parties need to be consenting to the recording. Minnesota, where the show is recorded and produced, is a one-party state. So, only one person needs to consent to the recordings.
And our final correction of this episode with Tom, the show I mentioned about the mystery writer who becomes a private detective was the HBO show Bored to Death starring Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifianakis, and the silver haired fox himself, Ted Danson.
All right, Water Coolians, that’s another Corrections Corner. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to listen to another episode of Water Cooler Talk. And once again, thank you to Tom for joining us and talking about some of the strangest and most weird news stories the world has to offer. Once again, if you felt a connection to Tom, make sure to check him out by following the links in the description of this episode. But, as always, that’s your corrections. That’s your episode. So, get outta here.