Love Scams: The CSI Effect

In his awesome book Practical Homicide Investigation, Vernon Geberth describes a phenomenon he labels ‘the CSI effect’. Basically, as more information about forensics becomes available to the general public via shows like CSI, criminals get smarter. They may wear gloves, or stage scenes to look like bizarre sex crimes they have seen in movies. I have found that the same thing is true of love scams.

You may be a Google armchair expert, know how to Facebook stalk and even master the art of putting on sunglasses after uttering the perfect one-liner, but love scammers are getting more sophisticated every day. This is why a licensed investigator who is up-to-date on the latest technology can help make sure that you don’t get fooled again (see what I did there?)

By now, many people are familiar with ‘catfish’, or people who pretend to be someone else online. They know to avoid Facebook pages that have few posts or friends, or have found websites that will tell them if Twitter users are real or fake. But at the same time, criminals are getting better at spreading digital disinformation. A number of services now allow people to buy ‘verified’ Twitter followers, and Facebook fakes have begun to craft much more elaborate pages with hundreds of friends. LinkedIn pages, which many people look at to verify employment – are actually self-reported, and totally open to fraud.

This month, I worked a case where the man I was attempting to serve papers to had crafted an elaborate – and completely fake – life on Facebook and Instagram. He ‘tagged’ himself at various locations hours or days after he left. Eventually we were able to geo-tag a photo and find him through old-fashioned surveillance, but by leaving a trail of false leads, he was able to confuse investigators for several days.

They also work to foil online background checks. For example, many criminals know that the starting point of identity is a social security number. Since they have bad credit or a criminal record, they may try to beat the system by stealing social security numbers from other people or the Death Master Index. Since it’s hard for a dead guy to get arrested for assault, the scammer uses the ‘clean’ social security number to build credit, get jobs and avoid judgements and child support payments.

It pays to remember that – even in a technological age – over-sharing is NOT the same thing as intimacy. A licensed private investigator with experience in love fraud can help you figure out who the person on the other end of the computer really is, and what they really want.

Craigslist Creep of the Week

RAZOR RESIDENCEWhen I clicked on this ad for a 38-year-old ‘Young Successful Sugar Daddy’ in San Clemente seeking a ‘younger female for discreet friendship and some XXX fun’, I immediately thought that the picture of his home looked familiar. It turned out that I had seen the house before – in the movie Iron Man!

After a few clicks through the trusty Google Images search, I saw that his house is actually the Razor residence, the palatial 11,000 square foot home in La Jolla that was reportedly the inspiration for Tony Stark’s pad in Iron Man. So far construction costs have come to over $34 million.

Here is more info and pictures of the home via Miss Swiss.

The home Architectural Digest named Wallace E Cunningham is one of the top 100 designers; one look at the Razor residence and you’ll see why. Razor sits on a hilltop that just so happens to be above Torrey Pines State Reserve, a coastal state park.




If you are a woman in your 20’s who still wants to take a chance, our Craigslist Romeo has a few requests: 
1) I’m not into drama – you shouldn’t be either.2) you don’t have to be the sexiest in the world as long as your fit and take care of yourself3) please don’t wast my time if your not serious4) reply with a picture and bit about yourself otherwise sorry you won’t get a response

5) mention your birth year in the subject line, so I know your for real and not the millions of camgirls and spammers

6) must have a personality

7) Don’t waste your time if your a pro… I wasn’t born yesterday

8) I am only looking for one clean gal..not looking to sleep around

Oh, and he would ‘like to get to know someone first through email exchanges’. . . so don’t ask to see his house! 


From Facebook to food porn: Key social media searches

I go way beyond Facebook, Vine and Twitter. Just like Sherlock Holmes, I never underestimate the importance of a seemingly random fact. Because they can lead me to digital traces that people often don’t delete –  whether it’s the ID thief caught through his Instagram food porn or the ‘off the grid’ women I found through her pug meetup group.

Read more


A number of women across the country have listed their positive pregnancy tests for sale on Craigslist – and there is no shortage of motivated buyers. One expectant mother in the Buffalo, New York area is selling her used sticks for $25 each, The Daily Dot reports. Another New Jersey mom writes: ‘Wanna get your boyfriend to finally pop the question? Play a trick on mom, dad or one of your friends?  Read more

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