Monday, December 26, 2005

Top Internet Scams at Sherlock

Internet fraud is at epidemic levels. The email pouring into Sherlock Investigations indicates that most of the scams involve low-end products, but some of these are in volume, resulting in great losses.

Before Christmas, a lot of people were ordering the Xbox 360 at greatly inflated prices because electronic stores were sold out. Of course, the Xbox 360 never arrived because it wasn't there in the first place. I-pods are in the same category.

Fake Rolex watches continue to be big sellers on the Internet. Customers often believe the story the seller posts about how he got the watches. If and when they arrive, they're a cheap imitation that literally falls apart. The stem is usually the first to go.

Fake Louis Vuitton and Chanel purses are hot. The problem is that the items are so low cost ($150-300) that it's not worth bothering to hire a private investigator to track down the seller. Trying to get your money back through eBay or PayPal is often problematic.

Expensive motorcycles are also hot. We've had very good results tracking down the sellers of motorcycles and other high end items, including investments of large sums of money with bogus Wall Street firms.

The Internet is a great way to shop. I buy all sorts of things from L.L. Bean, and my groceries from Fresh Direct. Be sure to always buy from reputable companies.

Never use Western Union when paying a stranger for an item. And remember the Skipp Porteous rule-of-thumb when buying from strangers on the Internet: "Never spend more than you can afford to lose."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Scrooges Are Us

Last winter an out-of-town client arrived for an appointment at our office in New York's Upper West Side. In the cab he found a woman's wallet. He turned it over to us after we promised that Sherlock Investigations would find the owner of the wallet.

Besides a Texas driver's license, the wallet contained a certain amount of money, including a $100 bill, plus an assortment of credit cards, and a company ID. This was plenty of information for us to find the owner of the wallet. After more than an hour of searching, we were unable to find the owner, or any relatives. However, we did find her phone number, and left a message for her to call us ASAP.

Just before we left the office that night, a frantic woman called. She was still in New York, and had called her number in Texas to check her messages. Until that point, she didn't even know that she had lost her wallet.

We gave her the address of the Sherlock Investigations office and said that we'd meet her in front of our building with her wallet. She arrived in about thirty minutes, eyed us suspiciously, took the wallet, and climbed back into the waiting cab, never to be heard from again.


Then, just a few days before Christmas, a friend handed me an envelope that she had found near our office with the name "Bob" hand-written on it. Since there were no other markings whatsover on the envelope, I opened it. Inside was a holiday card signed by a woman, and $50.

I went to doormen buildings within a block or so of our office to enquire whether a tenant had reported losing an envelope with a holiday gift. No one had reported losing such an envelope.

Then I entered the woman's name into several data bases that we employ for locating people. I got a lot of hits since the women's name was a common one. One of the women by the same name lived only two blocks from our office. The listing included her phone number. I went over to her building and spoke to the doorman. Indeed, she had reported losing the envelope, which contained a holiday gift for the building's superintendant. The doorman said that she was very upset about losing the envelope and had looked everywhere. I left the envelope with the doorman.

After I got back to the office I called the woman's number and left a message that I had found the envelope and left it with her doorman. Later the woman called me and asked me where I found the envelope. Then she said, "And you OPENED it?" as if I had done something wrong. I explained to her that that was the only way I could've found out who it belonged to since there are a lot of "Bobs" in the neighborhood. She hung up on me.

This proves two things. One, some New Yorkers are honest. Two, some people are suspicious and ungrateful.

Would we do the same thing again? Absolutely.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Results of Free People Locator

In my last post I detailed our new free people locator service. Each month we'll take on one case absolutely free. For December, we took a case that involved searching for a biological father. The results are posted below.

If you'd like to be considered for our January free people locate, please email us the details, including why you're looking for the person. A testimony is not required for us to consider taking the case, but always welcome.
Please see all the details in the previous post.

"I literally spent years searching on my own for a biological father I hadn't seen in roughly 30 years. I used all the resources I could find on the web even spending the money on some of the online people finding services. At every turn I was met with nothing but failure and frustration. After reading the testimonials on Sherlock Investigation's website and seeing their phenomenal success rate, I decided to give them a try. You probably think I'm exaggerating, but in a mere 90 minutes after I emailed Skipp the very limited information I had, he had found my father! Not only that, he also provided me with a current address and phone number, both of which were 100% accurate. I could have never imagined that Skipp and his staff would be able to do such an amazing job so fast. If only they could make the meeting as easy as the finding..."

Friday, December 02, 2005

FREE People Locate Service

Locating people makes up a third of our business at Sherlock Investigations. And we're good at it. I can honestly say that we locate 99% of the people we look for.

The reasons people hire us vary widely. We look for runaway teens, deadbeat dads, old friends or family members, fugitives, and even pets. It's always rewarding to us, as well as the client, when we're successful.

Frankly, some people can't afford our rates, but we have to charge what we charge to stay in business. I know that you can go online and find someone for forty bucks. Sometimes I check out these services to see if they can find me, a pretty public guy. The information they come back with is unbelievable. If I didn't know where I was, I would have a hard time finding myself with these cheap online services!

I've often wished that I could help everyone who needed help, but not being independently wealthy, I can't. But, here's what I can do, and what Sherlock Investigations can do.

Once a month, we'll take a case for free. We'll launch a search for a person, free, with no strings attached. We'll decide who we will help based on humanitarian grounds, the public good, or just because it's an interesting case.

So, if you're looking for someone, email us about it. Include all that you know about the person, including past locations. And, be sure to include the reason that you are looking for this person.

We'll take submissions for this free service by email only. Email Sherlock Investigations at, and write Free Locate in the Subject line.

If we choose your case, we'll let you know right away, and start working on it immediately.