by firstname.lastname@example.org | Mar 15, 2023 | Blog
West Coast Detectives International is now one hundred years old. Founded in 1922 and within those one hundred years a lot has happened both to WCDI and the world in general. King Solomon said, “So there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one might say, “See this, it is new”? It has already existed for ages which were before us.” And, while change does happen all around us, some things never change, such as a client needing investigative help 100 years ago, 50 years ago, or today. The needs are the same. Helping people has been the number one focus for WCDI these past one hundred years and will always be our number one focus.
I cannot remember how many times I have been asked about the type of cases that I have worked. How exciting it must be to be a P.I. Well, I can say that after 200,000 or so cases in our history, we have had some interesting, exciting, crazy, and heart-breaking cases.
After a recent conversation, it was mentioned that I should share case stories, some of our history, from some of our more interesting case files. Why not, I thought, it would be fun to go through our archives and share cases and some of the “old-school” investigative techniques used before the Internet.
Here we go.
Los Angeles, California
A call came in from Dallas, Texas. The President of an insurance company informed me that a man, a policy holder with a multimillion-dollar payout was found dead in our area, Ventura County. He asked if I could meet with him in their headquarters in Dallas and retain our services.
Within 48-hours I was in a meeting gathering all the facts and victim information. A few hours later I was on a flight back to L.A. with a briefcase full of documents and a retainer check.
I contacted the local Sheriffs office and spoke with the two detectives assigned to the case. I found out that the victim was shot in the head with what look to be a 22 slug and unfortunately the autopsy confirmed that the bullet was not there. I informed them on what background information I currently had on the victim and that I was headed to Washington State to gather more information and build a profile. We shared our contact information and agreed to keep each other updated.
Victim Information (Name changed for privacy issues):
The victim, John Jones was a successful businessman from the Northwest who traveled to Los Angeles regularly. What we soon discovered is that the life Mr. Jones lived in Washington State was polar opposite of the life he led in L.A.
State of Washington: Mr. Jones was married, a family man who was active in his church.
LA.: Mr. Jones had flashy younger girlfriend and loved the nightlife.
Upon our learning the girlfriend’s name, I sent some our investigator’s out to the streets of L.A. asking around, checking out the clubs they frequented. At first, we could not find anyone who knew them or offered any new leads or tips.
You’ve heard the saying, “It’s always darkest before the dawn,” or in this case dead ends before the big tip or hot lead. By chance we found a former friend of the girlfriend who was more than willing to provide us with her name and address. This was definitely an eureka moment in the investigation for us.
We notified the case detectives and we set up a twenty-four-hour surveillance on the subject’s residence. Our objective now was to confirm the ID of the subject and see where she went and who she was associating with.
While my investigators were watching the girlfriend, I met with the detectives in their office. They had discovered similar MO’s on other unsolved murder cases. Male victims with large life insurance payouts after the policy had been recently taken out. The detectives believe that it was part of an organized crime operation and that the FBI, LAPD, LASO, and the Texas Rangers all had similar open cases that they were investigating. I was informed by the detectives that their department did not have the budge to handle an operation of this size, a multi-state investigation. I asked them if I could use their phone and I made a call to my client.
After updating the client, they agreed to underwrite the cost of the taskforce. The cost of the investigation verses the policy payout would save them millions. It was a risk worth them taking.
Within a week I along with agents and officers from the various jurisdictions were sitting in a hotel room in Ventura County reviewing timelines, sharing information, strategizing, as tasks were assigned to each agency. I continued working with the same detectives from Ventura County.
Police officers, especially homicide detectives regularly see the brutality of mankind. They often develop think skin or what some outsiders would call callousness, or a dark sense of humor. The two detectives I was working with had developed close friendship and often joked with each other. I was surprised that it was often light-hearted humor and not the other type. I recall when we all flew to Dallas as part of the investigation and after arriving at the airport, one of the detectives jumped into a wheelchair and the other pushed him wildly through the airport. It was a wild Code 3 wheelchair response. You couldn’t help but laugh at the two kids, I mean homicide detectives ripping through the airport.
After the taskforce began it’s investigation, on one occasion I flew to San Antonio and upon my arrival at the airport I was discreetly met by some Texas Rangers. They asked me if I had noticed the beautiful blonde woman that was on my flight. Of course I thought to myself, everyone noticed her, however I casually told them that I was aware of her. They informed me that she was working with the “bad guys”, and she was sent to follow me. My thoughts quickly went to my family back in California and their safety. I quickly realized that although I was living and working in the heart of the TV and Movie making industry, this was no TV show or movie. This was real life and I needed to be very careful.
In case you haven’t realized yet, this investigation took place in the 1970’s. Well before the Internet and being able to do obtain a person’s full ID information, addresses, telephones, court records, financial history, and much more. While there are restrictions on what can be accessed today, in the 70’s everything we did was by hand, or more accurately, by foot. The P.I. world has evolved with the technological developments, but a case of this type would still require field work, aka., “Boots on the ground.”
As our investigation continued our investigators continued to hit the streets and following up on leads. With the information that we were gathering along with the task force, we connected the dots to the organized crime ring to a string of murders. We identified bodies, victims from Mexico to Panama, and across the U.S.
A break in the case came when we identified a prime suspect and the gun we believed was used in our murder as well as many others. But we still had one key missing part, a body with the bullet still in it that we could match.
Maybe the big break came when we received a call about a body in Mexico that had been sent back to the states for burial. Everything about this death matched our investigation. We grew excited with anticipation that we finally would be able to have the evidence to make as arrest and stop these murders. We obtained a court order to have the body exhumed and we waited.
When the casket arrived at the coroner’s office there were representatives from every jurisdiction of the task force including myself inside a private room. We all positioned ourselves around the casket as the attendants began opening it. It felt like an eternity. As the lid was raised open, we all took a collective gasp…yes, the body was there but one part was missing, the part with the bullet, the head. Someone in Mexico had beaten us to the evidence. As disappointed as we were, we were not defeated. We got back to work, we got back on the streets while law enforcement did their part.
As our investigation unfolded, we had learned that Mr. Ones had severe money needs. As the story went, his girlfriend set him up with some money people and they had an opportunity for him. Part of this opportunity required that a key man life insurance policy would need to be opened on him and he would need to provide some “good faith” up-front money. Mr. Jones would fly into L.A. to meet the money person, provide the money, and sign the papers. Mr. Jones received a call from the money person to arrange the meeting in L.A. After making the arrangements, Mr. Jones asked how he would recognize him. He was told not to worry, “I know you.” Unfortunately, this did not raise any questions in Mr. Jones’ mind.
After over a year of investigative work we were able to identify the ringleader of the organization. We uncovered the money person who met Mr. Jones and the other victims. What we learned was that every victim was told the same story about the money-making opportunity, and that a life insurance policy was needed to protect them. The ghoulish part was that each victim was paying for their murder. The up-front money was being handed directly to the hit man so there was no connection to the crime ring and the hitman.
Our investigation also found the travel schedule and flight information for the hitman. We confirmed he was on flights into LAX and other cities where the murders took place.
When Mr. Ones met the money person/hitman, they left in a vehicle together and the money was given to the hitman. Somewhere along the drive from LAX to Ventura County, Mr. Johns was shot and killed, and his body was dumped off of the side of a hill. The hitman then returned to LAX and boarded a plane and left state. He was in Los Angeles less than 12 hours.
As I previously mentioned, we identified the ringleader and when he was interviewed on his deathbed, he confessed to his involvement in the murders.
Hollywood has traditionally depicted an adversarial relationship between private investigators and the police. That law enforcement refuses to work with P.I.’s. While this can happen, at WCDI we have always had a good relationship with law enforcement. We understand that we can assist and provide services to benefit their work. And in the end, the community benefits as well.
by email@example.com | Mar 15, 2023 | Blog
PROTECTING AMERICA’S SPACE VEHICLE SECRETS
This is a case summary from our files, of a government client, using the undercover trade craft that I posted an overview on previously.
It was March 4th, a Tuesday, and we had just finished our 8 AM staff meeting which usually lasted about 30 minutes depending on issues we needed to handle. At a few minutes before nine, I was reviewing undercover reports that had come in the night before to determine if any clients needed to be briefed on urgent events, when my assistant called me and said I have a call from someone who said he was referred to you on line 3, I said OK I will pick up.
I picked up the phone and said good morning this is Phil Little how may I help you. He said this is Mark Wilson (named changed) and Matthew Roberts (named changed) who speaks very highly of you and said your agency would be able to help us. Mark went on to say I am head of operations for a joint military operation involving the space program in another state and we would like to come tomorrow and see you to talk privately since this is a classified operation and we are on an open line. I looked at my calendar and saw there was anything I couldn’t change, and I said of course what time.
Mark said they would be on a private plane coming into the Burbank airport and would arrive about 9 AM and I said great how many will be coming, and he said three and I said we will have a town car there to bring you to the office.
Mark and his team arrived about 9:45 and after introductions and with coffee in hand we went to the secured conference room to talk. Mark said they were part of a joint military services complex dealing with the space shuttles and they had internal problems and were concerned about foreign governments trying to obtain information and plans about the space shuttles. He unfortunately said the heads of the complex are scientists and do not understand the importance of security.
I ask Mark would this not be an FBI or other agency handling issues like this? He responded yes but there is concern about any people the government agencies might use being compromised due to the area being small and the chance that an under cover agent being recognized is very high. He said this is going to be a project which will take some time, so we wanted a dedicated agency with the background and experience in handling undercover operations. He said he got approval to bring in West Coast Detectives.
Then we got down to details and they said one issue is we cannot tell any of the HR department so the agents would have to go through the interviews on their own, I thought OH great there always has to be challenges.
I called in Rick; the head of our undercover unit and we had Mark Give us detailed descriptions of the jobs and a profile of the type of agents who would fit in to work force. I also ask Mark prepare a profile on the people who would be interviewing for the jobs. I asked for all their likes and dislike, their background such as any military experience. Give me any hot buttons that they would react positively to from the new hire.
As we wrapped up the meeting right before noon, we arranged for me to visit the complex on the following Monday, and they would give me a tour and have the profiles on the interviewers. I took them to lunch and after dropped them at the airport.
I met with Rick and other unit chiefs to layout plans to find the three agents we needed. I left them with the task of coming up with recruitment plans and would also be screening for agents we had who would qualify and be able to relocate for up to six months.
The next Monday March the 10th found me in my element, walking among flying machines. In the US Airforce I started on C-130s and was to be assigned to B-52s but after training I transfer to a fighter squadron in California, which was the base where Fighters were being flown out to Vietnam. “I love airplanes.”
I was in every corner of the complex, including secured areas to get a feel for the activities so I could brief our agents going in. After a day with Mark and getting the profile on the interviews I returned to the airport and back to Los Angeles.
March 13, Wednesday, found me back at my office and I was pleased to learn the team had made good head way with two of our current staff of agents identified who would fit the profile and could be gone for up to six months. I went over the profiles of the interviewers at the client location so they could do initial briefing of the two agents separately and then I would spend time with each one.
I wanted to be sure they understood the importance of security with this being a classified operation and both of these agents had security clearances from other assignments. By Friday, March 15, we had the third agent identified and the next week we would be updating backgrounds on our agents and doing a pre assignment Polygraph as part of our internal due diligence to protect our clients.
By Friday, March 22nd we had finished the pre assignment work and had them going to the client location for a new hire interview a day apart. Now we would see how good of actors the agents were. We had set up separate living locations for the agents so they would not be together and bring attention to three new hires living together.
I had learned from my time in the Air Force about the word prevention over and over again and this stuck with me into my business life, particular since we were protecting people and property. So, we did redundant role playing with the agents prior to sending them to the client location and it paid off. All three were hired within a week without anyone knowing they were undercover. That was kind of scary for if we could plant agents inside this secure government operation, then any foreign government with their resources could do the same thing. That would be in my finally report to the client.
We had an agent on each of the three shifts and the daily reports started showing a lack of security and very little concern about it with a lot of wasted time and drug use. This was a reminder that when the people at the top were not security aware that worked its way down to the employees who took advantage of the lack security. We would be looking to see if there was dealing of drugs going on internally or theft of government property. The reports after being formatted were mailed to clients every day and if there was an problem that was life threatening the client was notified by phone and an action plan was discussed.
Within 6 weeks our lead agent was promoted to team lead on the night shift, and this gave him more access without being questioned. This is another one our prevention trainings points, that the agents have to be able to play a dual role, the good employee for the management and one open to work with the employees who were suspects.
Our normal approach is to build any criminal cases as we go on with the operation, but not making any arrest until the end so we don’t expose the undercover agents. Our trade craft is to use the undercover reports to lead us to ways we can build a case without undercover testimony, so the agent can be used on other cases.
Over the next six months I would go to the client location for meetings to discuss project developments and make sure the client knew our objectives. As the weeks went by the list of employees who needed to be replaced grew. There were the basic lazy employees and only doing another to get by, which was affecting the mission of the operation, and there were drug users who were enough involved to affect their jobs and would need to be interviewed at the end of the assignment to try and find out their suppliers.
The night shifts were the most exposed with darkness hiding some activities. We would recommend more lighting in some places. With the size of the plant and number of employees our list was over had over 50 suspects going into the 4th month.
It was in the fourth month that one of our agents was alerted by another employee that a couple of the employees seemed to be asking a lot of unusual questions, like where were certain critical parts kept when it wasn’t in their need to know. The employee said they were moving around a lot to places that they didn’t need to be.
The agent provided me with the two employees names, and I called Mark and ask him to get me a copy of the two files and anything they might have on the background done on them.
He noted when he sent me the files that when he reviewed the backgrounds, he saw that a lot of the background items were not done on both the subjects. He said only the basic check was done. That made him wonder how many more was like that.
I immediately sent the file to our research and ID team and told them to do a full work up on both subjects back to birth and do it quickly.
I was on a plane to the clients the next morning for meetings with the agents to go over how they were to focus on the two subjects. They were to be normal but look for and develop openings to talk to the subjects and see if any social meetings could be put together to try and learn more about them.
I spent two days meeting with agents and client and when I got back to my office, I had large files on my desk with the first part of the work up on both subjects. We had many “Red Flags” starting with gaps in their history, questions about where they were born, how they received Social Security Cards. I directed the research division to keep digging.
We also discovered that they had two different addresses at the client location, both were mail drops and further digging showed they were actually living at the same address in a low-income area.
After briefing the client, we initiated surveillance from when they left the office until they went to bed. I alerted the agents that we were possible dealing with plants by foreign governments so be alert. A big part of undercover work is the agents fitting into their surroundings and with the surveillance on the two suspects living location being lower income the surveillance can or high profile cars were out of the question. We sourced two older vehicles with some defects and the agents dressed for the area and moved positions frequently.
I am going to summaries the past 2 months of the case. If I had written blow by blow of all the details, it would be a book.
After starting the surveillance, we were looking for evidence that would show what the subjects were doing and if they were trying to steal plans on our space vehicles. The surveillance ran from the time they left their house in the morning until lights went off at night.
We also focused the agents on the subjects to see if they could build relationship with them. We suspected that if the two subjects were “Spies” they might have their guard down with the ease they got hired and the lack of security so apparently at the complex.
Over the weeks with now having two areas of investigations we maintained our internal focus on drug, supervisor issues, areas where illegal activities were going unobserved and where changes or upgrades to security were required, while the outside team worked on the two subjects.
We were several weeks into the surveillance when we hit the jack pot. Both subjects left their house going in different directions as we followed them they went 10 miles out of town to a roadside café. After going in and taking a booth at the back of the small restaurant they were joined by a subject that arrived shortly after they did.
One of the surveillance agents had gone in after the suspects and when the third subject arrives to the booth, he let the outside agents know and they got the license plate and put a non-traceable tracking device on the subjects car in case we lost him on a loose surveillance expecting him to be watching for a tail. The tracking device proved to be a God send for when he left, he started doing techniques which showed he was looking for a tail. The agents backed off and used the tracking device to get him to his location.
The subject who arrived and met with the suspects after some work up on him, gave suspicion that he was a handler for the suspects. It was time to meet with the local FBI office.
We were now approaching time to bring all the investigations to a close with over 60 employees being interviewed for illegal activities along with preparing a hard-hitting report on the need for a complete revamping of the security system approach along with details on how to make the changes. Our government security support division stayed on as consultants to help select the equipment and train a more professional level of security agents.
We had meetings with the local FBI field office and briefed them on all our discovery during the investigation with copies of reports, videos, audio, and photos of the all the suspects. They took over the final work on the two suspected spies and their support network and I coordinated the internal interviews with the employees who took part in drugs and other company violations. The FBI took several weeks to get to the point where they could bring the suspects along with the man who met with them in for interrogation. We assisted them with details that helped them bring the came to successful conclusion. The suspects were plants by a foreign government but now they were out of work
This was a very rewarding conclusion for us, but due to the case being undercover and classified we couldn’t use any of the clients appreciation for a job well done. But knowing we had helped keep our space program a little more secure was all the thanks we needed.
God Bless America
by firstname.lastname@example.org | Jan 6, 2023 | Blog
To be or not to be – Is there a royal baby?
The actual case was conducted over several months in the United States and Europe. For the sake of time and space, this case study is a condensed timeline of some of the more important and interesting investigative activities and techniques that were taken to meet the client’s goal.
The names have been changed to protect their identities.
My intercom rang in my office and my assistant informed me that a long-time friend and client was on the phone and wanted to speak with me. Joseph Schmidt was an international businessman whose family has ties to the Middle East where they built a large and successful business. Their business brought them clientele and friendships with high-level officials, wealthy businessmen, and world leaders. During the call, Joe informed me of a very sensitive and important matter concerning one of his clients. He asked for my help and when I could meet him in Northern California.
I was on a plane the following day.
July – Day One
I was met at the airport by one of Joseph’s drivers who took me to this restored castle, which was Joe’s home. It had been a while since I had been there, and it was even more amazing than before. One of the rooms was made to replicate his favorite Pub in England. The only things missing were the fog and rain.
As we sat down in his Pub, Joseph began to tell me the reason why he needed my help.
One of these country leaders had called Joseph to his palace to entrust him with a very sensitive issue. He told him the story that he had a relationship with a young woman that did not live in his country, and she claims that he is the father of a son born to her, but she refuses to let him see the child. The woman lives In London and other than her name and a cell phone he didn’t have a lot of information.
Over the next few hours, we talked about an action plan and the risk involved. I told Joseph I would first have our agents in London, some still active Stockland Yard, and SAS members, make some discreet inquiries. We would use her cell phone to get more identifying intelligence and background information on the woman. We needed to find her residence first. With the emerging Internet and the information that it offered; we would cut weeks of time off of the agent’s shoe leather work. The time it used to take to gather research information.
As we were winding up our meeting, two plates of Fish and Chips arrived along with two pints of beer. After lunch, I was driven back to the airport with a retainer check in hand and anticipation and excitement for the possibilities of this case.
When cases cross international borders, there is no telling when your phone will ring. You tend to sleep a little lighter, and the workdays start earlier than usual, as was the case this morning.
As the sun was beginning to light the Los Angeles skyline, I and my operations leaders were sitting in the conference room reviewing the case files I put together. As I expected, everyone volunteered to go when the team learned that there was work to do on the ground in London. We laughed about it, and I humorously thanked them for their dedication as I informed them that position was already assigned.
As we worked through the case file and made notes, I assigned our Investigative Case Manager to oversee and coordinate the worldwide operations with our foreign assets while I was in London.
Everyone had their assignments and as they walked out of the conference room, I was confident that I had the best team around me, and that we would succeed. Now, I needed to contact my friend and colleague in London, Bill.
Bill was our Station Chief in London, and he is active in Scotland Yard. After catching up I briefed him on the case and provided him with the subject’s name and cell phone number to help ID her.
Once we located her address, we would set up 24-hour surveillance on her and want to get lots of photos of her and her daily activities. We want to know what she does during the day. Does she work? Whom does she meet? What are and where are her favorite places to eat, party, whatever she does – I wanted to know. I had a saying for special cases like this, I wanted to know what makes the subject tick.
I reiterated to Bill, that one of the most important elements that we were on the lookout for was a 5–8-year-old boy associated with the subject. I told Bill as soon as we know where she is I will be flying over to get firsthand information and help with the direction on the work.
In the pre-dawn hours, my phone rang. I cleared the cobwebs from my sleepiness as Bill’s British accent greeted me with a hello. I knew that he wouldn’t be calling me this early if he hadn’t found something good.
“Good news”, Bill said, “Phil, this is a very interesting lady. We have her full name, date of birth, passport, and where she lives.” “That’s great news…” before I could finish my thought, Bill interrupted, Here’s the really interesting part. She is in England on a Visa. She is Iranian and lives in a two-million-pound home in a very upscale neighborhood. At this point, we cannot find any source of income for her, and the home is owned by an offshore trust. There are no tax records that we can find but we are still working on that.” “That is very interesting, Bill.” Bill had set up the surveillance and would keep me posted until I arrived in London. I told him I would be on a flight in a couple of days.
As I laid back in my bed, my thoughts were racing around in my head and there was no way that I was falling back asleep. These were the moments that I loved as a Private Investigator, discovering the information that was once unknown and now putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
Day Eight When I arrived in London, I was met at the airport by one of our SAS team members. After checking in at the hotel, Bill and David, the surveillance team leaders, and I had a strategy meeting in my room.
So far, there had not been any sighting of the subject with a child. Our research had shown that the subject, Amira, travels a lot, and often it appears to be last-minute traveling. This raised several questions as well as some complications for the surveillance team. The team had to have their passports, a Go-Bag, and cash them in case the subject decided to do some traveling.
We also discussed how we could find out more information about her, and we decided that a middle-of-the-night trash run might help us. There are risks to this, but fortunately, at this time, there were not any security cameras that covered the street area where the cans were placed. When it comes to trash runs, I remember an old investigative proverb, “beware of what leads you find in the trash.”
Day Nine & Ten
I arrived in London in the late afternoon and knowing that the team had everything underway and operating, I checked into my hotel room and got caught up on my sleep. I have found that when you are in a foreign land, take the time to look around. Find some time, if possible, to see local sites, meet new people, and in this case carve out a night to go see Phantom of the Opera with Michael Crawford.
As we sorted through the trash that we were collecting from the subject’s residence, we were finding some very interesting and informative items. There were letters, but email was not around at this time. We found faxes, financial information, and notes on flight reservations. We also noticed something interesting in the flight information, she was making notes on new flight destinations, changing the reservations she had made a few days before. This caused us to question her actions. What was she up to? Had we tipped her off in some way that she was being watched?
With all the unknowns and the subject living in London on a Visa, Bill alerted intelligence and immigration to do a target package on her. We also discovered that she had a contract maid service, and it was owned by a former cop. Bill said he would reach out to him and see if we could put one of our people on the crew.
We received word from the owner of the maid service that he was willing to have one of our female agents work as a maid at the subject’s residence. This was great news. There is nothing better in an investigation than to have eyes and ears on the inside.
Over the next five weeks, we documented her activities, developing her routine with 24-hour surveillance and the ongoing trash runs. We learned through surveillance that she would often leave the house around midnight. The Subject, Amira, liked to go to the after-hours clubs in London, which were very popular with the people who liked the party scene and didn’t have to get up early. They were open until 4 AM or later.
As we kept up the 24-hour surveillance and our intelligence unit kept digging on every lead, everything took a twist as Bill called me to say we have some interesting information on our lady. British intelligence has her on a watch list, and she is an Iranian intelligence agent, and they have been tracking her contacts and movements. Bill had alerted them that we were working on her also. We agreed to keep them informed, particularly if she left the country unexpectedly. They assumed she had other identities with documents she could use.
I called our teams and Intelligence Director to meet me at Bills Scotland Yard office so we could review and strategize. One topic of discussion was her proclivity to hitting the after-hours club scene and asking how we could exploit this activity. Bill suggested that since I was an American Tourist, I would be the best candidate to try and have a chance to meet her. She has a favorite club that she goes to a lot, and I asked David to do advance work and check the place out in case that would be her next destination on her next late night out.
David and I met to go over his assessment report for the club. The club was about fifteen minutes from my hotel and thirty minutes from Amira’s home. The club was very upscale, with many government officials and wealthy businessmen seen at the club. Perhaps this was Amira’s real interest in the club. The dress code was a suit and tie; fortunately, I always travel with one special suit for such occasions. David also informed me that the doorman is an ex-copper, and he will be an extra pair of eyes for us. David suggested I visit the club tonight to get the layout of the inside.
This means I have homework to do before I attempt to contact her. I have to be very careful with what I say, be believable. I was working under my true name, so didn’t have to worry about her checking me out and getting alerted to our efforts. Fortunately, the internet was in its infancy, so she would not be able to conduct a social media search on my name. Time to be calm and remember I am dealing with someone who is probably as good as I am or better at discreet interrogation.
Meanwhile, the surveillance continued at the house, with everyone coming and going being photographed and sent to MI5 for possible identification.
My late-night, early-morning visit to the club provided me with some useful information. One, they served a Montrachet White Burgundy by the glass. This is considered by many to be the best white wine in the world. Secondly, the club had a great jazz band. It was a great way to spend a night, intel gathering with a glass of Montrachet and a few jazz greats.
The surveillance continued, and as hoped, on Thursday night just after midnight, she left the house and entered the back seat of a car alone. The car had a driver, probably her regular driver. Hopefully, that meant she was going to the club by herself and not stopping along the way to pick up a male companion. After being notified, I left my hotel with two of our former SAS agents and headed for the club. I wanted to get to the club ahead of her. As a precaution, we had a team following her just in case she wasn’t going to her favorite club.
We arrived at the club, just off Central Street, and parked across and just back from the alley entrance to the unmarked club. With the former “Copper” at the door, this reminded me of some of the upscale clubs in Los Angeles where the security teams were headed by former West Coast Detectives agents. We had no waiting in line at those clubs, thankfully.
Amira’s car pulled up about 5 minutes after we got there, and the surveillance team watched her get out and enter the club. Her car then drove up the block, stopped, and parked. The driver was staying close by, waiting. We also had to assume the possibility that she would have a protection detail inside the club waiting for her.
I waited about 10 minutes before going into the club, and once again, I was met with the beautiful sounds of soft jazz music. I went to the bar, ordered my drink, and scanned the room. There she was, sitting at a table by herself with a panoramic view of the club. She had the perfect spot to watch everyone. She was definitely a woman a man would not miss, and she looked like she had stepped out of a fashion magazine. She looked relaxed, calm, and in complete control. She looked and acted like this was her club.
As a good bartender would, he noticed that I had looked at Amira. As he brought me my glass of Montrachet, he leaned across the bar and said, “She’s quite a looker, and she is single”, with a wink,
As the night went on, the club was filling up. A couple had come and joined Amira at her table, but there was still an open chair. Maybe for me? The band began playing a fast song when Amira and the other woman got up to dance, she was a very good dancer. As the set continued, still one empty chair at her table. Thinking to myself, I said, “why not, let’s see if she would like to dance a slow one?”
I approached her table and told her that she is a very good dancer, and I was wondering if I could get a lesson or two since my feet don’t always do what they are supposed to do. She looked up at me with a little smile and a sparkle in her hazel eyes, “a free dance lesson, that is a new one for me.” She asked if I was an American, I introduced myself and I gave her my cover story. Then, as if I set it up with the band, the perfect slow song started. She stood and took my hand and led me to the dance floor.
This woman looked good, smelled good, and floated across the dance floor. She asked me how I had found the club, and I gave her the cover story about a friend who had been to London, and as we danced, we both questioned each other.
As I took her back to her table, she introduced me to the other couple and asked me if I would like to join them. Before I could answer, she waved to the bartender to bring my drink over.
The other couple was Iranians, and they looked very alert and aware of their surroundings but very friendly and open. We spent the next three hours dancing and talking, and when she was ready to leave, she asked me how long I would be in London. I said, “about a week or so”, she said, “that’s too bad. I will be out of the country next week, maybe we could meet again?” As I gave her my hotel number, I replied, “I would like that, ” in case she got back before I left.”
There wasn’t any indication that she was anything other than a single lady out with friends who didn’t have to get up early. As this was not a time for probing questions that might raise her suspicions, however, it did seem that our intel on her trip to Hawaii might be right. I would alert the team to be prepared to fly.
I waited at the table after they left, thinking that this was one of the better nights of surveillance I have had. Montrachet by the glass to drink, a beautiful woman to dance with, and great music. Just like the movies, but I knew that I had to watch my back.
Events started moving fast with the agent on the inside. We learned that Amira was flying to Honolulu to visit a sister the following Monday via British Airways and was scheduled to return eight days later. We also learned from our agent on the cleaning crew that she learned that Amira knew she was being watched, and she was feeding false information in the trash to just keep people guessing. So, we couldn’t depend on what we were getting in the trash. The agent also learned Amira had an eighteen-year-old daughter going to school in France.
Up to this point of our investigation, there has been no evidence found of a male child or even the mention of one. Perhaps our luck might change with the Honolulu trip. She may have left the son with her sister to hide him from detection.
I asked Bill to get a message to the agent on the inside to gather all the data she could on the daughter going to school in France so we could have a target package work-up on her. As we were working to find the answer to our questions, it was clear that without the agent on the inside, the trail probably would have gone cold.
The team following Amira to Honolulu booked seats on the same flight, and they were able to get seats two rows behind hers in first class. At the same time, we had our Honolulu agents working on a target package on the sister to find out everything about her, where she lives, and how difficult surveillance would be on her residence.
Day Forty-Nine & Fifty
After the advance work was complete on the residence and surveillance locations were approved, I directed 24-hour surveillance to begin. Once our target package on her was complete, we would know if she had any children and if any were boys.
Day Fifty-One & Fifty-Two
The agent on the inside of the residence discovered, while cleaning and moving things around, the full name of the daughter and date of birth from her school file. There were also some letters from the daughter to Amira with her return address. The agent was able to take pictures of the letter and a photo of the daughter using a concealed camera in a pen she was carrying with her.
Now that we have identifying information on the daughter, we faxed the photo and personal data to our agent at the French Nation Police so that he could start a target packet background. Once that was done, we would start surveillance so that we could identify a pattern of her activities, both school and socially. We would also assign one of our female agents in France to do a pretext interview with her. Once we were ready to approach the daughter, I would fly to Paris to meet our agent, and review the information gathered and our strategy. This was going to be an important assignment for us. Besides trying to gather intelligence on her mother, we want to create and develop a reason or opportunity to visit her more than once.
The flight to Honolulu was on schedule, and Amira made the flight. There had been instances in the past where she went to the airport, checked in, only to then slip out of a side entrance. This time, however, she did board the flight with our agents close behind her. Meanwhile, the agents in Honolulu would follow the sister, who was coming to the airport to pick her up.
In the middle of the night, one of our agents placed a tracking device on the sister’s car. This would allow our agents to maintain a greater surveillance distance. While one agent followed the vehicle, we also had one agent in front of them. The agents we were working with were both retired HPD and had let the airport police know they were working at the airport. Also, due to the foreign agent issue with Amira, Bill had briefed HPD Intelligence that we were there, and they would assist us if we needed them. As it turned out, they did go to the sister’s home and stayed in for the night.
Day Fifty-Four – Sixty-One
I increased the daytime surveillance to three agents, and we had the opportunity to place a clear stripe on the top of the sister’s car that was not visible to the eye but could be seen from the air, by helicopter or plane using an infrared camera. This was a backup to the tracker and the three agents, we had access to HPD chopper, which would be in the air when we were on the move in the event traffic was bad. We could not afford to lose her since this might hold the secret about the possible missing “royal child.”
Over the next week of constant surveillance and from our background work, we did not find any boy at or near the age that we were looking for. It appeared she was simply visiting her sister, and since we did not set up any listening devices, we came to the conclusion that this was not where she might hide her son. There was nothing unusual or suspicious about their time together. They went out to dinner, to the beach, and drove to some of the touristy places. There was no indication of any deception. Then again, maybe she took us on a wild goose chase to spend some of the Client’s vast fortune.
Amira, and our agents, flew back to London, and she arrived back at her residence. We will see if she settles into her normal routine, and I will have to decide about seeing her again.
Day Sixty-Three & Sixty-Four
Now that Amira was back on the ground in London, I did not have to be in constant contact with agents on the ground in Honolulu, which took some of the pressure off of me. Now I could focus my attention back on our activities in London and Paris.
With the target package completed on the daughter and the advance work done on the school and Apartment, I decided to go to Paris to direct and be able to better access if we needed to have ongoing contact with the daughter.
I must admit that part of the reason for going to Paris was my love for Paris and being able to walk the streets and have my very fresh coffee and real French chocolate croissants at the sidewalk cafés, also, I enjoy people-watching. Trying to figure out the who, what, and where’s of people as they walk by.
In order to get close, or develop a relationship with the daughter, we needed a female agent with certain qualifications and abilities. Fortunately, we had such an agent. Our agent was young and attractive and could pass as a college student. The plan was for her to show up at a café near her apartment over several days that the daughter frequented. The agent would sit close by, and she would offer a greeting to get the daughter familiar with the agent. Our agent had a college business book, and the cover would be that she was working on a degree in international business, as was the daughter.
On our first day of surveillance, the daughter stopped for coffee and a croissant to go. On the second day, she came back after school and took a table and ordered a meal. She also pulled out her books to study.
On the third day, the agent was setting two tables away and made a comment to the daughter about all the studying for classes, which sparked a conversation. Before they left the café, they had exchanged phone numbers, and after a week of meeting at the coffee shop they arranged a night out. By this time, the agent had learned a lot about her family, and there was never a reference made to a brother. In fact, she made the statement that she was an only child. Our agent was going to meet her at her apartment before their night out so he would check for any family pictures or other evidence of a brother.
The agent and the daughter were spending time together and the agent had developed a story that she has three brothers, which in fact she did. On this night, while out at a club, between dancing, some drinks, and fending off the guys, the agent asked her if she missed not having a brother. She responded nonchalantly with a “no, not really.” What the agent had discovered during this time was that the daughter had spent most of the time, since she was twelve, in boarding school, and she would go home during school breaks. She said her mother was working with the family business in Iran.
After a complete debriefing with the agent, it was clear that there was no evidence that the sister was aware of a brother. She came across as being truthful and, in general, as a typical eighteen-year-old college student. But before I headed back to London, just one more night in Paris to reward the agent for a job well done. I made reservations for dinner at La Tour d’ Argent, you can feel the history as it goes back to the 1500s, and King Henri III was a frequent guest. This 4-hour dinner could have lasted longer.
Day Seventy-Seven – Seventy-Nine
After I arrived back in London, I received a briefing on the Hawaii results, and Amira was back to her old routine, planting false information in the trash, shopping, and playing tennis on occasion.
On a side note, we also received some intel from the states that was not related to our investigation, but the word was Amira and her brother, who spent a lot of time in the states and was around the political scene, had made an approach to a high-level staffer of the Bush 2000 campaign. Their offer was that they had supposed proof that Bush and some people around him had been involved in a scheme in Latin America, similar to the Iran Contra weapons program. They alleged that Bush and a group were going to supply weapons by going around congress to groups fighting the leftist. They were willing to keep this information a secret if Bush dropped sanctions against Iran.
They were told no deal, and they faded away with nothing ever being released. This gave support to Amira’s connection to the regime in Iran, which didn’t affect the evaluation of her having a royal son.
It was time to call all of the team together and review our findings, our activities, and the resources we used. As I am with every case, but more so on a case of this magnitude, I am very concerned when I tell a client there is nothing there, that we are as sure as we can humanly be that it is a fact.
We had run extensive checks in England, France, and Hawaii for birth records for the five-year period after the last time she had seen the Middle Eastern leader. We found no records of a birth record, and we checked using a combination of names she might have used.
Now with all the surveillance time spent, the inside agent, the information from the daughter, and learning how good she is at False Flag-type information, we have come to the conclusion that she is scamming the leader for some unknown purpose. She does not have a royal son!
I thanked the team, and then I headed back to Los Angeles. I briefed the client, but I still had a lot of work to do on the final report.
by email@example.com | Jun 28, 2022 | Blog
PHIL CASE STUDY WCDI
The case of the missing children.
One morning as I was in my office when Terri, the receptionist, came over the intercom informing me that there was a woman who walked in and would like to speak with a detective. She asked me if I wanted to talk with her or if she should let one of the managers handle her? I have always had a policy that I will speak with new clients if I am available.
There was a light knock on my office door as Terri walked in with a very elegantly dressed woman. I was struck by her appearance and her strong French accent. For this story, we will call her Monique.
Monique was a little nervous as she shared with me that she had been driving by our office for weeks and thinking about stopping by, and finally, today, she made the decision even though she was unsure if we could help her. I asked her to tell me her story, and I would let her know how we could help. She started by saying she was from France and had been in the states for over 25 years, although her accent sounded like she had arrived days ago.
She took a deep breath and shared that in her early twenties, she married an older man who was a high-ranking general in the French army, and they had two children together, a boy and a girl. When the children were about four and five, she had some indiscretions. She didn’t elaborate on the details, but they were severe enough that she was given an ultimatum – leave the country without the children or face serious consequences in France.
Shortly after being given the ultimatum, she arrived in the United States, and up to this day, she has not been back to France or seen her children. It was easy to see that this had broken her heart, that she was in agony and pain of having to be separated from her children. She had learned that her ex-husband, the General, had died, and she wanted to see her children.
This brought her into my office; she had no idea how to find them and needed help. With tears in her eyes, she softly asked if there was any way I could help her. As I looked at her and reached across and took her hand, I said yes, there is, and we will find your children for you. She looked at me with amazement and said how can you be so sure, I smiled and said we are detectives, and I have assets in Paris. Please give me all the details on the General and your children.
She was prepared as she handed me some papers and photos of the General with his full name, date of birth, and address where they had lived when she left the country. She also had pictures of the children when she left with their full names and dates of birth with their French ID numbers.
I believe we all have that soft spot in our hearts to help people, and I do. And this is the type of case that hits that soft spot in me, and I love to work on pro-bono—reuniting a mother and her children after more than two decades apart.
I do not believe that it was a coincidence the timing that Monique walked into my office. Over the past few years, I built our intelligence network across Europe and developed relationships at the French National Police HDQ. Using this resource, I would reach out to them with the data to conduct the primary research for me. I informed Monique it might be a few weeks before we started to get information back, but I would keep her informed as we progressed.
The following day I prepared the case instructions with all the data on the subject along with the photos and faxed them; (this was pre-Internet and email) to my friend Jean at the police headquarters.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear from Jean in three days to inform me that they found them, the now-adult children of the client. As it turns out, the General was a well-known man, as were the children. Both kids, who were now in their late twenties and early thirties, worked for the French Government.
Jean told me we have all their information phones, address, and work location, and he asked me what the next step was. I told him to standby while I talked to the client about what she wanted to do.
I will never forget that conversation, even though it was several years ago, as I told her we had found them. She started weeping with joy. She could not believe that we had found them and so quickly.
I shared with her that both children worked for the French Government and were single. I asked her what she wanted us to do now. She expressed the usual fear that they would not want to talk to her after all this time. I told her that from my experience in cases like this, children are usually very receptive to reuniting.
I explained that if she wanted, we could talk to them and arrange a time for a call, and we could do it at my office with our communication system. She agreed.
I reached out to Jean and updated him, and he made contact with the kids and explained the situation. A few days later, I received the call from Jean, and he said both of the children were eager to talk to their mother and had set a morning time in Los Angeles for the call.
I called our client and the tears started again, and a lot of French praising. She couldn’t wait for the call.
That Saturday morning when the call came in was a one-hour call I will never forget. Twenty-five years disappeared in a flash. It turned out the children had known as they got older that she had not abandoned them. That hour was spent in joyful tears as they talked over each other to find out what they had missed for the past twenty-five years. At the end of the conversation, it was agreed the children would come to L.A. to see her in a few weeks and then arrange for her to go to France.
After hanging up the phone, Monique walked over to me and hugged me so tight that her tears ran down my shoulder. She expresses her heartfelt thanks in broken English and French.
The icing on the cake was when the children came to visit her; she brought them by to meet me. It was a perfect ending to this case.
This is why I love being an investigator.
Monique and I stayed in contact over the years, and whenever she needed some help, she would give me a call.
Another satisfied client.
Until Next time: Stay Safe