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Private Investigator Busts Catfish Scam Case Study

After communicating with a woman online for over a year, ICS was contacted to determine if our Client was actually speaking with the individual the Subject claimed to be; or to see if it was a different person entirely.


After communicating with a woman online for over a year, ICS was contacted to determine if our Client was actually speaking with the individual the Subject claimed to be; or to see if it was a different person entirely. Our Client had sent multiple gifts to the Subject, as well as provision of private financial information. Despite extended periods of communication, the Subject was hesitant to meet our Client in person and constantly made excuses not to do so.

ICS first suggested conducting a basic background check using the mailing address the Client mailed the aforementioned gifts to. After completion of the background check, a period of surveillance was recommended which focused on obtaining photographic evidence of the individuals residing at the residence. By doing so, ICS staff would be able to compare the photographs given to the Client, with photographs taken at the Subject's residence.


An investigator was sent to conduct surveillance at the conclusion of the background investigation. After watching the residence for a few hours and not seeing anyone come or go from the house, the Investigator decided to initiate contact with the Subject by simply knocking on the door. Immediately, an older woman (not matching the photographs provided to the Client) answered the door. Investigator used the excuse of being a delivery driver and asked for the Subject by name. The woman responded by saying there was no one there by that name, and that the only residents were her, her husband, and her son. The Investigator concluded surveillance for the day and reviewed the findings of the background investigation. Interestingly enough, while the first name didn't match that of the Subject's, the last name was in fact the same.

The following day a pretext phone call to the residence was made. The Investigator spoke directly to the owners of the house. Investigator also assumes that one of these individuals was the woman who answered the door during surveillance. They informed the Investigator that they had been living at the address for an extended period of time. It was also confirmed that their son (an underage minor), had the same birthday month and day as the Subject, and that the son's online gaming name was the same as the Subjects. Based on the aforementioned, it was concluded that the Client had unknowingly been talking to this young man all along.

ICS staff then contacted the parents of the Catfish and let them know of his activities. Our Client was thankful to ICS for uncovering the truth so that he did not waist anymore time conversing with someone who was lying about their identify. While the Client couldn't get back the time he lost, he said that he would be sure to use more care in the future when talking to someone he met online.

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