December 2017
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In January 2018, Trace Investigations founder, Don C. Johnson CLI, will be a guest presenter at the mid-winter conference of the National Association of Legal Investigators in Ocean Beach, Alabama. Johnson, a past National Director of NALI, will be speaking on the background screening process. Trace Investigations Vice President, Tina M. Skirvin CCDI, will be in attendance as the National Secretary of NALI.
"Everything about the internet makes it perfect for criminals bent on perpetrating a scam."  
-Susan Grant, pilot and New York Times bestselling author

We are grateful to have the opportunity to provide you this valuable information. We take special care to ensure the information we provide you in "Tracings" is the latest and most current information available. In this edition, we once again address common dangers of the holiday season - scammers and con artists. We feature a case study of a variation on the romance scam, which knows no seasons; yet potential victims are more vulnerable during the holidays and the fraudsters know that. We also share news of a successful settlement brought by the Federal Trade Commission against a business charged with aiding and abetting various scams.
The goal of this e-newsletter is to provide you with critical information that will help you prevail in your business affairs wherever fact finding is an essential component. We will share what we have learned in our 30+ years as professional investigators and intelligence analysts.

We want to write about topics that will assist you in succeeding in your business endeavors. Please e-mail us your topics of interest to
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The Trace Team wishes you and your family a safe and happy holiday season!
The Trace Team

art1Scams, Cons and Grifts
Distinctions without a real difference. It can be something as simple as the lottery scam, where "A person offers to sell a winning lottery ticket or a 'law firm' says someone has left you a winning lottery ticket, but you must send money so a computer can verify your identity. The 'winning' ticket may be counterfeit or not exist."[i] It could be an elaborate con perpetrated by a smooth talking gentlemen or young lady at a resort frequented by wealthy widows and widowers, designed to lure a vulnerable woman or man into an expensive romantic liaison. Or, it can be a grifter who swindles someone out of money or property through any number of deceptions and frauds. The names are really interchangeable. Any way you look at it, scams, cons and grifts are crimes that generate billions of dollars every year in tax free profits for the perpetrators.[ii]
A few years ago Trace Investigations helped a client unravel a unique version of the romance scam. A professional woman contacted us after receiving a message from a visiting nurse who attended her disabled husband, a retired professor. Our client traveled in her work and needed the assistance of the nurse several days a week. However, one day... Read More

[i] From the web site of the National Association of Bunco Investigators ( NABI is a network of law enforcement officers dedicated to fighting scammers, grifters and con artists. Trace Investigations is an associate member of NABI. 
[ii] A grifter is a con artist who moves from one place to another to perpetrate his or her trade. "The first rule of grifting is you can't cheat an honest man." A quote from the BBC TV show, "Hustle." Source, the Urban Dictionary.

art2 False Promises, Real Money: The FTC wins a large settlement for consumers
In January this year, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it won a settlement of $586 million from the Western Union Company, as a result of a lawsuit brought against Western Union by the FTC and the Department of Justice. Fraudsters had for several years used the telegram company in order to bled money from victims of various scams. The U.S. Postal Service investigated numerous schemes used by fraudsters who contacted their victims posing as family members in need of assistance, or they falsely promised prizes, job opportunities or other products for a financial payment sent via Western Union. The promised rewards never materialized. As part of the settlement the company admitted that it criminally aided and abetted wire fraud and violated the Bank Secrecy Act.
If you know of anyone who might be a victim of one of these scams, they can submit a claim at the Western Union Remission site. The FTC notes: " Please supply any available documentation (For example: Western Union transfer send form and/or receipt) to support your claim. Do not send original documents. Only the amount of the transfer will be included in approved remission amounts. Collateral expenses such as wire transfer fees, incidental losses, or transfers sent through other businesses are not recoverable through the remission process."