September 2018
In This Issue


We are grateful to have the opportunity to provide you with this valuable information via our monthly e-newsletter and our unparalleled forensic accounting and fraud investigative services.

The goal of this e-newsletter is to provide you critical, inside information that will help you "follow the money" in business disputes, divorce cases, fraud cases, estate matters, corporate embezzlement and to prevail when defending an IRS criminal case. We will do this by sharing the knowledge we have from our 25+ years of experience as an IRS Special Agent and 16 years as a private investigator / forensic accountant.

We take special care to ensure the information we provide you in "The Beacon" is the latest and most current information available.  In this edition, we talk about how to detect spear fishing used for fraudulent activities.

We want to write about topics that will assist you in prevailing with fraud, divorce, estate and probate, and IRS criminal cases. Please e-mail us your topics of interest to
We encourage you to share our e-newsletter with others in your sphere of influence.  
Edmond J. Martin
Principal, Chief Investigator
Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
Texas Certified Investigator (TCI)
Individuals and Businesses Should Be Aware of Phishing and Spear Phishing Fraudulent Activities

Phishing is the process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity using bulk email which tries to evade spam filters. Emails claiming to be from popular social websites, banks, auction sites, or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public. It is a form of criminally fraudulent social engineering.

Spear phishing attacks, on the other hand, are not typically initiated by a random hacker. Spear phishing is an email-spoofing attack that targets a specific organization or individual, seeking unauthorized access to sensitive information. The hacker uses a deeper knowledge of the potential victims to target them, and that approach allows them to tailor the attack. Spear phishing is more likely to be conducted by perpetrators out for financial gain, trade secrets or military information.

Unlike mass phishing emails which may be trying to distribute ransomware or gather individual login credentials to make a quick buck, spear phishers are normally after confidential information, business secrets, access to bank account data, etc. The s pear phisher has the same goal as normal phishing, but the attacker first gathers information about the intended target. This information is used to personalize the spear phishing attack. These emails are more targeted, convincing, and harder to detect than regular phishing emails. The attacker knows exactly who and what they are targeting. By limiting the targets, it is easier to include personal information like the target's first name or job title. This makes the malicious emails seem more trustworthy.

The success of spear phishing depends upon three things:
  1. The apparent source of the message must appear to be a known by the target and trusted individual within the company.
  2. There is information within the message that supports its validity.
  3. The request by the individual seems to have a logical basis.
The email recipient should learn to be suspicious of unexpected requests for confidential information and avoid divulging personal data in response to emails. Also, they should avoid clicking on links unless they positively know about the source.

Recently an association Administrator received an email via her iPhone allegedly from the President of the association that directed the Administrator to pay a vendor. The content of the email advised, "It will be necessary to take care of a payment to a vendor, today. I will forward you the... Read More
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At Sage Investigations we are dedicated to serving our clients nationally, to help them navigate the difficulties of dealing with fraud, divorce, estate and probate, the IRS Criminal Investigation, and other complex (forensic) financial fraud investigations. By narrowing our focus to our primary strength of following the money, we steer our knowledge, efforts, and experience to financial issues. We help our clients propel their cases forward by assisting in the review, acquisition, and organization of financial records, evaluating the elements of their cases, and helping create winning strategies. Through the use of our proprietary advanced financial investigative technology we trace and analyze complex financial data quickly, easily and efficiently, saving our client's time and money.
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Phone: 512-659-3179
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