Ah, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. A time to celebrate love with that special person in your life. A time to share a romantic evening with candlelight, roses, champagne…maybe even pop the question. You know the one. Which is a whole lot more than a romantic evening out…now we’re talking about spending your life with someone, sharing sensitive financial data and resources, possibly raising children together, combining assets and more.
How well do you know this person? Do you know his/her background?
Even if you’re not planning on getting married, knowing your beloved’s background is important. Not the background they choose to share, the black-and-white background documented in public records, such as a criminal history, arrest history, driving history, previous marriages and divorces. Keep in mind that co-habitation is as much a business venture as it is as a romantic enterprise.
You might be thinking, “But he’s [she's] a fantastic person! No way I’m going to sneak around behind their back to find out their history!”
But if you’re interested in this special person, seriously considering taking the next step — be it a committed relationship, moving in together or getting married — it’s smart to do a background check. Better to know the facts ahead of time than be surprised down the road.
Below are a few cases that have come into our office.
I’ve met this great guy, but I know so little about him…
This client called several years ago, referred to us by an attorney who’d handled her previous divorce. After she’d told the attorney she’d fallen for this great guy, but she knew so little about him, he stopped her right there, told her to contact us for a background check. We ran a quick criminal background check…and our jaws dropped! This dude had reams of felony charges and arrests, including a stint in prison for a felony conviction in another state. Seemed he was big on embezzlement…and when we shared this news with her, she admitted she’d been “loaning” him a lot of money, to the tune of thousands of dollars.
She ended the relationship. Then she started carefully reviewing her credit card statements and bank statements, and learned he’d misappropriated her credit card information, forged checks, and promised various lenders and businesses that she’d co-sign on loans.
She never got her money back. Not a penny.
Shame she hadn’t obtained a background check on this guy beforehand.
My ex-girlfriend is going after my assets!
This poor guy lived with a girl for a year, then they broke up and she moved out. She promptly went to an attorney and claimed she and her ex-boyfriend had been secretly married in a ceremony at a hotel the year before and that she was entitled to half of his assets. The guy (we’ll call him Tom) had to hire his own attorney to counter her claims. We were hired as investigators on Tom’s case. After we obtained evidence that showed she’d denied being married while living with Tom –and in fact, identified herself as a single woman on a notarized document to the federal government, the court dismissed her case.
Unfortunately, hiring an attorney was costly to Tom. His ex-girlfriend, angry that she’d lost the opportunity to win half his assets, called his work and made false claims about his sexual behavior at a company function she’d attended with him back when they were an item…and poor Tom was then forced to fight that charge (more $$ to the attorney) and he wasn’t allowed to return physically to his office for months until that case, too, was dismissed.
In our investigations, we learned she’d done this exact same thing to another guy a few years before! Except the previous guy, rather than hire an attorney, just settled with her for $20,000 to go away.
How’d she get by with this? She knew the law. She worked as a paralegal for a divorce lawyer, so she knew the ins and outs of common law marriages, and the possibilities for profit.
Shame he hadn’t obtained a background check on this asset-happy woman beforehand.
Could you check out my new boyfriend…he seems nice, but after the last time…
Remember the woman who found out her boyfriend had been embezzling money from her (first story, above)? Well, after that experience, she called us when she started dating again, asked us to conduct a background check on the new guy in her life. Guess what? No criminal records, no messy divorces in his past, no arrests. Everything he’d shared about his past (that we could verify through public records) was true. They’re now an item, considering moving in together.
So you see, background checks can also be a safety measure so you can move forward to the next step.
How to Get a Background Check
Many PIs conduct background checks. An easy way to find a PI who specializes in this area is to contact your state professional private investigators association and request (or look up) the name of a PI who conducts background checks. Below is a link, courtesy of PI Magazine, that lists state PI associations:
Have a great week, Writing PIs