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You really never know where the fraud is going to come from or what you’re going to lose after the damage. I do not know if the scammers are delinquents or artists, or maybe both, the truth is that they develop the power of conviction very well in order to enter our lives, our businesses and our homes.
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One day, I received a call from a customer who had been robbed from his business and wanted to see how I could help him. He explained, “I have a business that has been established for some years and I am also the owner of the building that occupies my business. For strategic needs I need to move my business to a more central area of the city and I have told some real estate agents about that. I was called by one of these agents five days ago and explained that Gerardo [name has been changed] a potential buyer, had received a $15 million inheritance, and it was his intention to invest it in the business. Gerardo was delighted with the building and agreed to purchase it. This would be the fifth property in which Gerardo would sign a purchase and sale agreement for. Two days later, Gerardo appeared alone in my business, which was almost about to close, and explained to the receptionist that he needed to make some measurements inside the building and that his real estate agent was not available. Gerardo made his measurements and then left. The next day when I enter the office I realize that there are some small things missing among them a picture of the Republic that has a lot of historical value. When I checked the security cameras I noticed that it was Gerardo who took them. I do not understand why a millionaire investor needs to steal. Now he does not respond to the real estate agent or me. What can be done?”.
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“First of all, we must report the facts to the police in order to set a precedent and second we need to investigate this matter a bit in order to understand it,” I replied.
As part of the investigation, we reviewed the recordings of the security cameras and indeed, Gerardo had taken the picture, his way of acting was typical of an experienced delinquent. The vehicle that Gerardo used had fake plates. But although Gerardo was very clever to deceive people with his polite language and good presence, he was not smart enough to change his name or use fake documents to do his misdeeds. Based on these details, we established the true identity of Gerardo, a man with more than 20 years of criminal activity. Among those, we found charges of petty theft, vehicle theft, check fraud, illegal access to private property, credit card fraud, Misrepresentation, identity theft, and violation of parole. Gerardo had spent almost 8 years imprisoned for this type of crime, but apparently all that time in jail did not serve him for his rehabilitation. Anything but a millionaire, this man had nowhere to call home. Maybe he would have a better life in prison where he was given free food and a bed.
In less than 72 hours from initiating the investigation, I found three new victims. The first was a family that was selling their house and was presented to Gerardo who was introduced as a millionaire investor. Mysteriously, several gold jewelry items belonging to the family went missing during the tour of the house. The second victim was a real estate agent who after presenting Gerardo to several properties of his interest, all very expensive; he realized that his credit cards had disappeared mysteriously from his wallet on the desk. The third victim also owned expensive jewels and watches that mysteriously went missing after a visit from Gerardo, the false investor, in his house.
Gerardo’s method of operation was simple. He showed up at real estate agents’ offices as the $15 million heirs willing to invest in expensive properties. The agents dazzled with this client began immediately to show properties for sale, yet, he just wanted to see properties that were inhabited and working. Once Gerardo entered such properties then magic would occur and things of value would disappear. The fault here was unfortunately committed by the real estate agents who did not verify the background or request records of the investor’s bank funds. This error not only caused damage to the home owners, but also to the reputation of the real estate agents. Once faced with all the police reports and investigations, I contacted the probation violation office so that they could proceed to arrest Gerardo. They are still looking for it.
For your safety, take the time to verify the background and financial solvency of those people, be they millionaires or not, before giving them access to places where they can steal or find victims for their crime. Do not be fooled or taken advantage of.
Beware of fraud, but if you need help, call us at 866-224-1245.
June 20, 2016
By Private Detective Fernando Alvarez
DIARIO LAS AMERICAS
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