Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A blog for PIs and writers/readers of the PI genre

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Posts Tagged ‘private investigators’

How Well Do You Know Your Valentine?

Posted by Writing PIs on February 4, 2016

Valentine’s Day vintage postcard (image is in the public domain)

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, a time when couples celebrate their love with candlelit dinners, flowers, champagne…and some even become engaged.

Spending your life with someone, sharing sensitive financial data and resources, possibly raising children together, combining assets and more, is a business commitment. How well do you know this person and his/her background?

A Background Check = Heart Smart

Knowing your significant other’s background is important. Not the background they choose to share, but the black-and-white background documented in public records, such as a criminal history, arrest history, driving history, previous marriages and divorces. Even if you’re planning to only live together, co-habitation is still a business venture.

We’ve had cases come into our office where a man or woman either has an inkling, or a reason to be concerned, that the person they’re involved with has a shady past. One case ended up with the client calling us one night and saying, “Quick, turn on the news! That guy you did a background check on? He’s in a high-speed chase with police!”

That’s the most bizarre, dramatic ending we’ve ever had in a case that started out as a simple background check, so let’s start at the beginning…

Hi, you were recommended by my lawyer…

An initial search revealed multiple felonies (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

This client called several years back, referred to us by an attorney who’d handled her previous divorce. After she’d told the attorney she had fallen for this great guy, but knew very little about him, he told her to contact us for a background check.

I was alone in the office when she called. After ending the call, I ran a quick criminal background check…and couldn’t believe the number of felonies this guy had racked up! Plus he’d served time in a federal prison. Digging deeper, I discovered he had a pattern of embezzlement.

I called her immediately and broke the news. She was upset, and admitted she’d been “loaning” him a lot of money, to the tune of thousands of dollars.

After terminating the relationship, 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 would co-sign on loans.

He’s in a high-speed chase with police!

Approximately six months later, we got a late-night call from her. “Quick, turn on the news! That guy you did a background check on? He’s in a high-speed chase with police!”

Indeed he was. Helicopters were tracking him from above, their lights beaming down on his car, which was followed by police units, their lights flashing. It was bizarre watching this real-life cop chase on TV.

This is an extreme example of the end result of a background check, but nevertheless, it’s a real story that happened to real people. If she had checked his background when she first met him, she could saved herself thousands of dollars.

A Happy Ending

Her story has a happy ending, though. She called back a year or so later, said she’d met a wonderful guy but before they got more involved, she wanted us to conduct a background check.

He had no criminal records, no secret wife, no arrests. Everything he had shared about his past (that we could verify through public records) was true. Months later, we saw the two of them having dinner at a restaurant. She wore a sparkling diamond ring.

How to Obtain a Background Check

An easy way to find a PI who specializes in background checks is to contact your state professional private investigators association. Below is a link, courtesy of PI Magazine, that lists state PI associations:

Private Investigator Associations (USA)

Have Valentine’s Day, Writing PIs

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Any use of the content requires specific, written authority. Please do not copy/distribute images that are marked copyrighted or licensed—images in the public domain are yours to use.

Posted in Background Checks: Be Heart Smart | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on How Well Do You Know Your Valentine?

Answering Writers’ Questions about Human Trafficking and Exotic Animal Trafficking

Posted by Writing PIs on February 24, 2012

Writer’s Question: Could you please talk about the problem of human trafficking coming up in investigations? For example, does an investigation lead a PI there, maybe? Could you also direct me to resources addressing the issue from the point of view of an investigator?

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoe’s Answer: This isn’t an area we investigate, but we have a few resources for you (listed below). As to an investigation leading a PI to a human trafficking situation, Colleen has known PIs (from a group of women investigators that she belongs to) who successfully helped a young girl escape from a trafficking situation (the women PIs, from different states, coordinated a safe pick-up and travel arrangements for the girl). To the best of her recall of the situation, Colleen believes the girl had found her way to a phone, called a relative, who then called a local PI (that PI then coordinated the group-PI/multi-state effort).

Miscellaneous Resources on Trafficking

Dottie Lassiter trains organizations on the financial risks of human trafficking

Human Trafficking organization

FBI’s page on human trafficking (which has numerous resources & articles)

Ty Ritter, PI in California, who specializes in kidnap recovery in other countries (we’re heard praises about his work from other PIs)

PI’s DeClassified is an Internet radio show run by a well-respected PI, Francine Koehler. One of her past shows was on human trafficking. One of its past guests was Dottie Lassiter (see above) who talked about human trafficking.

Writer’s Question: What about illegal exotic animal trafficking? Can you provide me some background information on that?

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoe’s Answer: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, part of Homeland Security, oversees the enforcement of exotic animal importation restrictions.

Also, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which supervises enforcement of human trafficking laws, has a public affairs officer listed on their site, so that might be an excellent resource to ask further questions about human, as well as exotic animal, trafficking (Jenny Burke 202-344-1313).

Posted in PI Topics | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Answering Writers’ Questions about Human Trafficking and Exotic Animal Trafficking

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