October 2017
In This Issue
Quick Links
evUpcoming Events
Trace Investigations' founder, Don C. Johnson CLI, will be at the 2017 conference of the International Association of Investigative and Security Regulators at the Doubletree Hilton in Chattanooga, Tennessee from November 8-10. Johnson is a Director-at-Large of IASIR and will be featured on the conference program in a panel discussion titled, " Pre-employment Background Investigations: Public and Private Processes and the Pitfalls."
"There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact."

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 bring you information concerning the "new species of catfish" and the "romance scam." These Internet "frauds of the heart" have become an epidemic and the scammers are in full force during the upcoming holiday season. Due to lack of knowledge and loneliness many innocent people become caught in the scammers deceptive love net. 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
We encourage you to share our e-newsletter with others in your sphere of influence. 
The Trace Team

art1A New Species of Catfish
We all are familiar with the catfish, a fresh water fish with characteristic whisker-like barbels protruding from its upper jaw. They are often called bullheads or mud cats, because of their habit of scouring the bottom of ponds and creeks for food. Historically, if we said we were going catfishing, we were heading to a favorite fishing spot and family and friends knew what we meant. These days, the term can mean something quite different, and with a much darker meaning.

A 2010 documentary titled "Catfish" exposed social media and internet sites where an individual sets up a false profile for fraudulent or deceptive purposes. In the film the husband of a victim suggested the term "catfishing" to describe the practice because of how catfish were once used when shipping codfish from Alaska to China. By the time they reached port the flesh of the codfish had become soft and tasteless due to inactivity in the storage vats. Catfish were introduced into the vats with the codfish to keep them moving, to keep them agile and alert, or they would become food for the catfish. If you use a social media account or an online dating site to meet someone or to engage in any financial or other transaction, you need to stay agile and alert, or this new kind of "catfish" will eat you, starting with your pocketbook. Even clicking a "Like" button or accepting a "Friend" request can lead to an undesirable alliance or association if you're not sure who or what is behind that click.

The risks and indicators associated with "catfishing" have been written about numerous times in recent years and, in addition to the documentary, a TV show has profiled the practice and its dangers. What is less known is how to launch an investigation to determine the identity of a person or entity when suspicions arise. Finding answers is not easy and can easily end in frustration, with the "catfish" still not identified. It's easy to hide on the internet. However, there are tools available to private investigators for social media investigations, which will cover multiple social media and internet platforms. Geographic metadata can be identified and time stamp data can be used to pinpoint a sender's location. There's no guarantee a social media investigation will positively identify a fraudster, but it will most likely confirm whether or not you are dealing with a real person or entity. Then it's probably time for a due diligence investigation.

If you need assistance for a "catfishing" investigation, don't hesitate to call Trace Investigations at 800-310-8857. 

art2   The Romance Scam
Closely associated with the catfish scam is the romance scam found on social media and internet sites. However, the romance scam is much more insidious. The romance scammer has one specific purpose in mind, to take money from a targeted victim, who is usually someone at an emotional crossroads in his or her life, looking to make an intimate and loving connection with someone. In her book, "Who is the Real Man Behind the Screen?," Diana Garren documents her own personal investigation into the romance scam, after becoming a victim herself. Published in 2014 and subtitled "Online Dating: How to Protect Your Heart and Money," the book is as relevant today, as is witnessed by Diana's numerous appearances informing audiences about the scam. The romance scam is not going away in the age of social media and runaway digital dating, but, thanks to Diana and others who have rallied to her cause, there are fewer victims. Trace Investigations first became familiar with Diana as a branding and marketing consultant and we credit her with enhancing our internet presence. When Diana asked Trace Investigations owner and founder, Don C. Johnson CLI, to write a review for the book's jacket, here's what he said:
"Diana's many years of business experience in working with attorneys and professional investigators has paid off - she knows how to build a case. Her investigation on the subject matter is forensically sound and her ability to bring the scammers into her confidence is first-rate investigative work. Diana has learned from her mistake and she is now sharing those lessons with the rest of us. Great job, Diana."
The best way to avoid a romance scam is to know the tricks of the trade of the scammers. Diana's book will show you. It is available at Amazon and on the Barnes & Noble website for the Nook . Also, a valuable resource can be found at www.silentvictimnomore.com .
Investigating a romance scam is challenging and can lead to a dead end. However, if you need assistance on a romance scam or any personal and confidential matter, don't hesitate to call Trace Investigations at 800-310-8857.