Retired FBI economic crimes agent Jerri Williams visits Fraud Busting. She’ll tell us the behind the scenes stories of her work on fraud cases including the ponzi scheme she helped bust that landed her on the CNBC TV show American Greed. She’ll debunk myths about the FBI and tell us all about her podcast where she gets the real story on FBI cases and the books she’s written. You don’t want to miss this one.
Traci Brown: Jerri, thank you so much for coming on Fraud Busting! I am so thrilled that you’re here!
Jerri Williams: Thanks for having me. You know, fraud, talking about fraud is one of my favorite things to do, so I’m excited to be here.
Traci Brown: You talk a lot about it because . . . not only talk but write. I don’t want to mess up your intro, so why don’t you tell us exactly what you do and we’ll go from there.
Jerri Williams: I actually have a tagline. I say that I’m Jerri Williams and that I am on a mission to show people who the FBI is and what the FBI does through my books, my blog, and my podcast, Case Reviews, with former colleagues.
Traci Brown: Oh, that’s a mouthful. Really, you do it all. Really, you do it all. Now, you’re retired FBI and you work mostly in economic crimes, like financial crimes. Let’s just start from the beginning. How did you end up with the FBI?
Jerri Williams: It was a fluke.
Traci Brown: Really?
Jerri Williams: When I interview the different retired agents, I always ask them why and when you joined the FBI, and so many of them say that they wanted to be FBI agents since they were little kids. That was not the case for me. I never thought about being an FBI agent. Even as a young adult, I only really thought about FBI agents as being white males, so I didn’t see myself in that role. This was back in the early 1980s.
Traci Brown: Okay. Okay.
Jerri Williams: I’m old.
Traci Brown: You don’t look old, so that’s okay.
Jerri Williams: I was working as a juvenile probation officer, and I saw this newsletter because, again, in the 1980s there were a lot of women networking, and it said that the FBI was actively looking for more women and more minorities to join the FBI. At the time, I looked at myself and I said, more women, check, more minorities, check, and so I thought, you know what, I’ll call and see what they have to say. The agent who answered that phone really recruited me. When he heard about my background and what I was doing, he thought that I would make the ideal candidate, and he really wouldn’t let me off that phone until he made sure that I was interested and that when he sent out the application, which at the time was like that thick, that I would complete it, and so he really, really took the time to make sure that I knew that this was a good opportunity for me. I applied and it was like a whirlwind. It usually takes up to a year to get in, and six months later I was walking into the FBI Academy saying to myself, what have I done?
Traci Brown: Oh, my goodness. Wow! Can you talk about what the Academy is like?
Jerri Williams: Yea. It’s still the same as it was back then, but instead of 16 weeks, it’s 21 weeks of training. It entails the academics, learning how to investigate, what legally can you do, how do you do an arrest warrant, the different types of investigations that the FBI handles, the violations, so you the academic, and then you had the physical fitness, and that’s all the running and the pushups and the pullups and agility runs and all of that, just trying to make sure that you are in the best condition that you have ever been in. That was kind of a breeze for me. I’ve always been kind of a non sports playing athlete.
Traci Brown: Okay. Okay.
Jerri Williams: At the time I was distance running and that’s a whole different story about me running the Marine Corp Marathon while I was at the training academy, 26.2 miles while I was at the training academy.
Traci Brown: Oh, that’s a lot. Marathons, it’s something I thought about doing because you know I have a background in cycling, and I thought when I retired, I’m like, maybe I’ll run a marathon. Then I was like, shew, maybe I won’t! (Laughing).
Jerri Williams: I’ve actually done it twice. I did the California International too, but that was a long, long time ago. My old knees won’t even let me run around the block anymore.
Traci Brown: Oh, yikes.
Jerri Williams: I’m a big power walker now.
Traci Brown: Okay.
Jerri Williams: What I have to do.
Traci Brown: Good. Okay.
Jerri Williams: Then the third part. I forgot the third part.
Traci Brown: Yea, yea, yea.
Jerri Williams: Of the Academy is, of course, is firearms, learning how to shoot a gun. When I went through, it was a revolver, the rifle, and the shotgun. Now, of course, it’s the automatic pistol and the rifle. They really don’t much with the shotgun anymore, but those were the three aspects of training at the Academy.
Traci Brown: Wow. Then, where did you end up getting stationed?
Jerri Williams: Alright, so for the first six months, I went back to the office where I was recruited, so I really got to know that recruiter who had talked me into all of this. That was in Norfolk, Virginia. I was living in the Virginia area at the time, so I went back there for six months because at the time you had to establish yourself as a government employee so that they could transfer you. Then, transfer me they did. They sent me to Sacramento, California. Yay!
Traci Brown: Wow.
Jerri Williams: Yea. But I was only there for about a year and a half, and then they sent me to Philadelphia. I spent the majority, the rest of my career, the 24 out of 26 years in the Philadelphia area.
Traci Brown: Oh wow. So then, did you just wake up one day and say you know, financial crimes, that’s where I’m going to shine? How did you end up there?
Jerri Williams: They put me there. I mean, a big motto of the Bureau is the “needs of the Bureau.” When you first come in, unless you have some special, special skill, you are basically a body and they put you where they want you put. Initially in Sacramento . . . In Norfolk, I got to do a whole bunch of fun things, like bank robberies and things like that, but when I got to Sacramento, they put me on a Government Fraud Squad. Now, I wasn’t all that excited about. That year and a half I worked it, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t really love in. But when I got to Philly, when I got to an Economic Crime Squad, there is a big difference. Of course, in government fraud, your victim is the government. But in economy fraud, your victims are real people, and so you really get to feel as you’re working the case that you’re doing something that is going to have a big effect on somebody personally. You get to talk to the victim. You get to understand what the victim is going through. Even if it’s a business, it’s still more of personal level, and once I started working that type of fraud, I grew to love it, absolutely just found it fascinating, and as much as I enjoy talking to the victims, I really enjoyed meeting with the subjects and talking to them too.
Traci Brown: Oh my gosh. Okay. So, you smiled the biggest on meeting the subjects. You know I’m a body language expert, so that’s where we’ve got to dig in. So, what’s the craziest case you worked on, or maybe the craziest story someone told you? Let’s dig into that.
Jerri Williams: Oh, when you get to crazy . . .
Traci Brown: Or unbelievable, just something where you’re like, you tried that?! What on earth are you thinking?
Jerri Williams: Remember, for most of the cases, by the time I got them, they had been successful at least to a point.
Traci Brown: Yea.
Jerri Williams: That’s why it got to the FBI level, because the exposure or the dollar amount of the fraud reached our threshold, so most of the time it wasn’t like cra-cray because it had been successful and it had worked. I guess the strangest one would be the one that I ended up on American Greed, which for an investigator who worked fraud, having your case on American Greed is like reaching the pinnacel.
Traci Brown: I wanted to talk to you about that. I’m glad you brought it up. So tell us all about that. What was the case? How did they contact you? I want to know all the Hollywood stuff too.
Jerri Williams: (Laughing). Well, you know, I was still working for the FBI at the time and so I think American Greed must look at different cases that they see in the news, and then they find out what agency is working them and reach out to that agency, and then ask permission to interview the investigators and to get more information about the case, and so that’s what happened with me. My case was the Foundation for New Era Philanthropy. I have to remember it that way.
Traci Brown: New Era Philanthropy.
Jerri Williams: Yes. The head of the group was John Bennett, and he just was well loved in the charity and donation funding industry, especially when it came to Christian organizations, whether they were schools or churches, he helped them at a time when the government funding was being pulled away, learned how to go out into the community and talk to different people and get them to donate to your nonprofit. That’s what he did, and he did an excellent job, and he held seminars and community educational programs to teach these nonprofit organizations how to raise money, and then something happened.
Traci Brown: It always does. What happened?
Jerri Williams: He just got into some financial trouble, some personal financial trouble, and he started to . . . he figured his best way to get out of it, he had been hiding bank accounts, moving money from one account to another in order to manipulate the flow of the cash, and he got caught. The bank caught him, and so he needed to replenish those accounts, and he needed to do it immediately. What he did is he asked some of the people that he had gotten to know who were philanthropists and donors, he told them that he was going to start up his own funding, that he had met some – and this is going to be unbelievable, but he had met some anonymous donors, very rich people throughout the world, who were just way too busy to deal with who to fund, who not to give money to, and so they were going to put him in trust of this foundation. In order to make sure that there were people that were deserving of their funding, they wanted them to take their funding, he would hold onto it for six months, which grew to a year, which grew to a year and a half, and then they would match it, whether it’s $500,000 or $1 million, if that organization put the money with him so that they could prove that they didn’t need it for capital investment, that this was really just funding for special projects, the anonymous donor would match it. So, he started slow. He really did do it out of desperation.
Traci Brown: That’s a good story though. Like it sounds almost legit, you know.
Jerri Williams: Yes. And he did it out of desperation just to get him help out of his financial trouble, but once it started happening, other people heard about it, and they also wanted to have their donations matched by these anonymous donors. I guess people just loved the concept and they trusted him, and so the next thing he knows, he’s bringing in all this money to the tune of $450 million.
Traci Brown: Oh, my gosh.
Jerri Williams: And as you know, everybody who deals with fraud, there is no Ponzi scheme that at some point, it’s going to collapse.
Traci Brown: Oh, absolutely.
Jerri Williams: There is not enough money in the world to maintain a Ponzi scheme, and so it collapsed. He actually had borrowed some money from one of the investment firms that he was dealing with in order to try to keep the Ponzi scheme going, and they did a margin call, and he didn’t have any money and he had to declare bankruptcy. At that time, when the SEC went in, when he was declaring bankruptcy, they looked around and they said, you know what, we think this might have been a Ponzi scheme. That’s when I got called. It was an unbelievable case, unbelievable case.
Traci Brown: So, what do you do? Your phone rings in your office and like, what happens next? Because when we talk about, like yesterday, I just spoke for the ACFE and you know they’re all internal auditors and accountants, and ultimately, some are private investigators. Where do you fit in that? Really, it’s a lot of paperwork and a lot of math. Like it’s not super exciting probably in the middle of it, or is it? Where do the kicks come from? What really happens?
Jerri Williams: Well, you know, I gave you the shortcut version. But really the FBI didn’t know anything about this until they read it on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer. There was a front page headline on the top of the fold of the hard copy newspaper was that this foundation had declared bankruptcy and there was like a line or two in there that was a possibility of it being a Ponzi scheme. So, we weren’t directly contacted by the SEC. When we saw that, I saw the newspaper, and of course, it’s very competitive. People don’t know this, but it could be very competitive in the FBI. You are assigned cases, but you also bring in cases yourself through your own contacts and people that you know. I was lucky because I read the paper every morning, so I saw this and I ran into the supervisor’s office and said, “Look! Can I look into this? Can I see what’s going on? This might be . . . it says here potentially a Ponzi scheme. I’d love to look into this.” And he said, “Sure, go ahead.” I went over to the United States Attorney’s Office and met with one of the attorney’s there, and then we pulled in the SEC and then talked about it more and more. Eventually two other agents were brought onto the case. Very early on one of the agents in our office who has a CPA, Bryan Cosgriff, came into the case, and then somebody else on my squad, another female agent on my squad, Loretta Hart. It was a big enough case that we three worked it together and divided it up into sections for us to concentrate it. It was a fabulous case because throughout the case, my main role was to the victims, to talk to the victims and interview them. Probably one of the hardest parts of my job was convincing them that they had been defrauded, that this was not a true foundation, and there were no anonymous donors. That is how difficult it can be at times to work fraud.
Traci Brown: Yea. No one wants to believe they’ve been taken.
Jerri Williams: No, no, no.
Traci Brown: Yea.
Jerri Williams: And that’s why, and I’m sure you’ve talked about this before, that’s why the amount of fraud that exists, there really is no true number because it’s assumed that the majority of people that have been defrauded never even report it.
Traci Brown: Oh, right.
Jerri Williams: They just talk themselves up as having done something stupid. It’s their fault. They’re embarrassed. They don’t want their family to know about it. They certainly don’t want their neighbors or business partners to know about it, and they just let it go. It’s the bigger ones where you can’t just let it go that show up. Yea. They were people that I was interviewing, business men who were known throughout the Philadelphia area as being so savvy and smart, who were crying as I interviewed them, as I talked with them, because they were humiliated because not only had they put money into the Ponzi scheme, but they had gotten so many of their friends and business associates and other nonprofit organizations who were looking for money to build their organizations. Many of these men, mostly men, had gotten so many people into it, and they were just humiliated.
Traci Brown: Oh yea. That’s kind of a tell tale of a lot of Ponzi schemes. A lot of them turn out as Ponzi schemes because your friends get you into it. It’s a limited opportunity, Jerri, it’s very limited.
Jerri Williams: You’ve got to do it now! You’ve got to do it now!
Traci Brown: (Laughing).
Jerri Williams: Don’t tell anybody.
Traci Brown: Yea, yea.
Jerri Williams: I can bring you into this deal. That’s exactly how it was. Unfortunately, many of the people who were defrauded were in the Christian community because the word buzzed through, the secret thing, this great possibility, was put out through that community, again, schools, churches, and organizations like that, but then as the Ponzi scheme, as he needed more and more money, of course, he opened it up to more nonprofits. Actually, this was the second crime novel I wrote. I wrote about this case, and I called it Greedy Givers because, and this is always hard to talk about because it sounds like victim blaming, but in many of these frauds the reason that the person who was the victim is embarrassed is because they know that they were trying to make money in an unconventional get-rich-quick kind of scheme. A lot of it had to do with – I hate to use the word, but – greed on both parts. That’s why I loved the title of the book, Greedy Givers because they were people who were giving. They weren’t greedy in the sense of trying to enrich themselves. They were donating, hoping to get the money matched to give it to another organization, but they certainly had dollar signs in their eyes as they looked at this special opportunity that was going to make them look even better to the organizations that they had been supporting.
Traci Brown: Wow. You do your interviews. The guy went to jail, right.
Jerri Williams: Yea, 25 years.
Traci Brown: Oh boy. Now, tell me this.
Jerri Williams: No, sorry. That’s not right. He got 12 years.
Traci Brown: Twelve, okay.
Jerri Williams: I was mixing it up with somebody else. Yea. He got 12 years.
Traci Brown: So when you go in a case, because I know a lot of what you do is debunking myths of the FBI, and so what I see in my mind is like a Wolf of Wall Street kind of like, FBI goes in, guns are out, and everybody’s surprised, and all of sudden you take all the computers, and that kind of thing. Is that really what happens? Tell us about that.
Jerri Williams: In this case, instead of going in and taking all the paperwork in the file cabinets, because they were in bankruptcy, we were able to work with the Bankruptcy Court and the SEC, and we just took over his offices. We would go there to work, to log in everything, instead of having to pack everything up and then try to remember, okay, what’s in box 1BC and what room did it come from? We had everything right where it was, still labeled, still categorized, but we were able to work with those documents right in his office space, very similar to what they did in the Madoff investigation, where months of that paperwork was left in the offices for the different agencies to work on, so that’s what we did. Yea. It’s amazing. Because we’re looking for, of course, the smoking gun, and in this particular case was the fact that we’re trying to prove a negative. We know that there are no anonymous donors, but we’ve got to be able to prove in some way that they don’t exist.
Traci Brown: Wow.
Jerri Williams: So we were looking for any type of listing of anonymous donors, then we could go talk to those people to see if they were anonymous donors.
Traci Brown: Sure.
Jerri Williams: We were looking, of course, at the bank accounts to see where the money was coming from, when it was matched, and of course, we found that was very easy. We found out that the money that was being matched was coming from the same bank account where people actually made the deposits, and there was no other external source of money to match with those funds. And of course, we were looking for any type of phone records of conversations that he made or had with anonymous donors and things like that.
Traci Brown: Right.
Jerri Williams: It was a fascinating case. I loved working on that case. Like I said, that’s why I ended up writing a book to try, in my mind, try to figure out why he did it. Why was this man who had done . . . he had started his career as a drug counselor, counseling drug addicts and working in drug rehab centers, and then as he got good at raising money for his own center, then he expanded out and started helping other people raise money, so he was doing good work. He was a church going person that had friends in high communities and all religions, and then because of this financial problem that he got himself into, it just morphed into this Ponzi scheme that just got out of control. Talking about crazy, I guess that’s not politically correct words. I shouldn’t be using it.
Traci Brown: Well, we’re not always politically correct.
Jerri Williams: That’s true. His excuse at the end was that he had a car accident that had created an issue with his brain, so he blamed this brain and said that he really thought that the anonymous donors were real.
Traci Brown: How far did that get him?
Jerri Williams: He was having psychotic episodes and believed that they were real. Of course, one of the fun things during the . . . we didn’t have a trial because he did plead, but he didn’t plead guilty. He pled – oh God, what’s the word? Nolo contendere, that he’s guilty but doesn’t admit to anything. So, we did end up having a week-long sentencing. During the sentencing, I remember testifying. Did I testify or was that somebody . . . I can’t remember who, because we had the three of us. But we were talking about the fact that we had found his calendars where the meetings with the anonymous donors were scheduled as far as his administrative staff were concerned, and the point was made that you usually don’t schedule out your psychotic episodes.
Traci Brown: Right. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh, that is crazy! That is crazy, and it’s not politically correct. Okay. I know a lot of what you do is debunking the myths of the FBI, and we have brought up a couple of them. You have a whole book on that as well, don’t you?
Jerri Williams: Yes. It’s called FBI Myths and Misconceptions: A Manual for Armchair Detectives.
Traci Brown: Oh, wow! Because that’s kind of what I am. Well, I’m not really an armchair detective. But I do a lot of video review. (Laughing). What’s the #1 myth?
Jerri Williams: The #1 myth I think is that the FBI doesn’t play well with others. You see that myth in every movie, you know where the FBI agent comes in and –FBI! We’ll take it from here!
Traci Brown: Yea, yea.
Jerri Williams: That is just -ugh – it is so bad. It is so untrue. The FBI couldn’t do our job without our ability to work with our law enforcement partners. In every city all around the country, there are police officers and state troopers and other federal agencies working directly with the FBI, sitting in the FBI’s office space, being paid overtime by the FBI, on taskforces, because we want to be able to utilize their skills and resources and have them able to utilize our skills and resources. We know those people in the community, the law enforcement agencies in the community, and they would laugh us out of the room or the crime scene if we tried to come in and take over.
Traci Brown: (Laughing).
Jerri Williams: Everybody has their jurisdiction. At the end there may be a decision made at the higher level as to how this case is going to be prosecuted. Will it be prosecuted by the state? Will it be prosecuted federally? But we still are working many of those investigations together, especially when it comes to violent crime cases.
Traci Brown: Oh, wow. Well, yea. So, since we’re talking about myths, I’m going to share one from my angle. I know you’ve done probably a lot more interrogations, been involved in a lot more interviews than I have, because you know I’m a body language expert, and what you see on the movies is the cops, they start tipping over the tables, and they shine the light right in your eyes, and then they expect someone to confess and tell their deepest, darkest secrets. There is no worse way to get someone to talk that that!
Jerri Williams: Absolutely!
Traci Brown: You’ve got to make them as comfortable as you can.
Jerri Williams: Yea. That is definitely one of the myths. I have a whole chapter on the myth of the FBI uses intimidation and coercion in order to get people to cooperate. What a myth.
Traci Brown: Oh yea. That doesn’t work.
Jerri Williams: Actually, it’s actually the opposite, you know. If we arrest somebody, we’re going to ask them if they want coffee, have you eaten yet?
Traci Brown: Well, yea.
Jerri Williams: Can I get you a meal?
Traci Brown: You know where that came from, and I’m sure you do, I believe his name was Hanns Scharff, in World War 2, and he had some American POWs, and he wanted to get them to talk, and his wife was in there baking like something, some kind of pastry, and he ends up giving the pastries to the POWs and they started talking. That’s how that whole thing got started. It’s like, wait a minute, you should be nice to people.
Jerri Williams: Yea. Absolutely.
Traci Brown: Yea.
Jerri Williams: For another reason too. First of all, you want them to cooperate. You want them to feel comfortable. You want them to feel heard. You want to develop that rapport. I’m here for you. I’m here to help.
Traci Brown: I’m here to help. (Laughing).
Jerri Williams: You’ve heard that line!
Traci Brown: Oh yea!
Jerri Williams: But the other thing is once you get that information, everything FBI agent is responsible for maintaining informants, cooperating witnesses, human intelligence sources. Once you get them to cooperate on that particular case, if you are nice to them and develop a rapport, maybe you can get them to cooperate on other cases and tell you other things. Yea. There is no way that the most scariest, meanest, nastiest criminal is going to spill his guts or spill her guts about a crime that they’ve committed just because you yelled at them and pointed at them in the face or threatened them.
Traci Brown: Yea.
Jerri Williams: Give them something they want. Don’t threaten to take away something or put them in jail.
Traci Brown: Oh yea. That never works. Let’s talk quickly about, because I feel like I could talk to you for hours and hours, read technique. Did you ever get trained in that at all?
Jerri Williams: What’s it called?
Traci Brown: Read. It’s an interrogation technique. It has some questionable . . .
Jerri Williams: No. I’ve never head about the read technique.
Traci Brown: I’ve never been trained in it. I have bits and pieces of it, and I thought you might have some intel, but basically, it gives you gives you some techniques where you can almost too chummy with your subject and end up with a lot of false confessions. It sounds like you weren’t working with that because I think the financial criminals are a little bit smarter.
Jerri Williams: Oh yea.
Traci Brown: Like, they’re super sharp people to be able to figure this out.
Jerri Williams: Oh, they are. Sure. They are absolutely convinced that they’re the smartest person in the room.
Traci Brown: Oh, yea.
Jerri Williams: You know, when I walked in, it’s like, she’s an agent? You know.
Traci Brown: (Laughing).
Jerri Williams: They figured out, well, then I don’t have anything to worry about, and then me being very kind and gentle, a lot of times people say, I didn’t notice I was doing this, but I’m very maternal. I have three kids. Just caring about them, and the next thing I know, they’re talking to me.
Traci Brown: Yea, yea. That’s the mark of someone who gets it. Now, let’s talk about what else you get because you have a podcast.
Jerri Williams: Yes.
Traci Brown: Which is fantastic. Is it Retired FBI Case File Review?
Jerri Williams: It’s FBI Retired Case File Review.
Traci Brown: Okay. Alright. Got it. Here is why I like it so much. We need to talk about how you’re doing this because I think it reveals your personality a little bit and your methodology. Like you seem to be super detail oriented, and you go through these cases in a way where you feel like, as a listener, you know everything about the case by the time the interview is over, and there is no stone left unturned. Right. Can you talk about some of your more interesting cases on that? Any more interesting guests? Or maybe even some of the interviewing skills that you use to get the information out in a way that’s not dry and a little more intriguing in detail than maybe like a regular true crime podcast?
Jerri Williams: Yea. Definitely. First of all, I learn as much as I can about the case before my guests come, not because I’m going to ask a lot of questions. If you noticed, and anybody who listens to my podcast, I don’t say much. If I can get my guest to keep rolling and do almost a case presentation, then that’s my goal. I’m only going to interrupt to clarify something or to have them expand on something that I think the audience may need to know about, but otherwise my guest can go on for five or 10 minutes before I say anything.
Traci Brown: Oh, yea.
Jerri Williams: But I’d like to know the case anyway because I want to know if I’m missing anything or they’re skipping anything that I can bring to their attention. Another thing that I do, as a behavioralist you’ll be interested in this, is I don’t use the camera. We’re talking now and we’re doing a podcast. It’s going to be video and it’s going to be audio, but I turn the camera off. I’ve done 231 episodes.
Traci Brown: Yea. There’s a lot. Anything you want to know about the FBI is on your podcast, for sure.
Jerri Williams: Right. And of those, maybe three, I actually had the video on, because I really felt from the very beginning that if this is going to be a presentation and I’m asking these people to provide all of this information, remember, my podcast, I probably don’t have one episode that is less than an hour.
Traci Brown: Yea. They’re long.
Jerri Williams: An hour to an hour and a half. Well, I can’t expect my guest to be able to remember all of that, and so I let them know from the very beginning, bring your notes, bring everything that you need, and put it out in front of you. I think when it’s a video and you’re doing that, it’s hard because they want to look down, they want to look up, they want to move this paper and shift that, and I don’t know what made me realize this, but from the very beginning, I thought, no, if I’m going to ask them to really do this, I want them to know that they can move papers, they can look down, they can pull something from there because no one’s going to see that. They’re just going to be hearing what they have to say. I think that ended up being something that allowed them to be more intimate.
Traci Brown: Oh, okay. Okay. Okay.
Jerri Williams: Because they’re not worried about looking at me and how they’re going to look. They can get back in their seat and just kind of talk and look at their stuff and just kind of remember what was going on and how they felt at the time. When you talk about episodes that really stick out, all of them do, and I’m not just saying that, but there was one. I interviewed – oh, and I’m going to forget his name. After 231, it’s kind of hard.
Traci Brown: Yea, yea.
Jerri Williams: I interviewed the case agent – his name is going to come back to me – of the Polly Klaas abduction case. For everyone, that was the 12-year-old girl who was kidnapped from her bedroom with her mother home and two friends over at her house for a sleepover, and somebody came in and kidnapped her, abducted her. It was the case agent of that case. We talked for maybe four or five hours as he went through the entire investigation, and sometimes breaking down when he talked about how it meant so much to him to try to get to her before something happened to her, and how he had basically a breakdown.
Traci Brown: Really?
Jerri Williams: Where he lost control. He was shivering. By the time they found him, he had to be hospitalized. I don’t remember for how long, a day or two, because his body, he had taxed his body so much trying to investigate this case. As he’s reliving this, I could hear him crying. I cut some of that out. I leave a little bit in there so you know that he’s crying, but I don’t leave all of the sobs and stuff in the audio, but that’s when I realized this is more than just, as a friend of mine would say, a fancy book report. These are the case agents who are reliving the moment and really sharing with me and listeners what it was like to investigate their cases. I’m just so proud. I mean, I know it sounds kind of conceited. I’m patting myself on the back.
Traci Brown: Well, you should! It’s really fantastic.
Jerri Williams: But I’m just proud of it.
Traci Brown: It really is! It’s that rare info that doesn’t come out all that much. Right. And it’s not sensationalized and it’s just straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
Jerri Williams: I think I’m able to . . . what I try to do . . . because some of the cases are cases that are very famous that have been on everybody’s podcast, and I try to bring in the fact that I am a retired FBI agent and to go places that other interviewers may not even know where to go, you know talking about what management was doing at the time, what kind of feedback or setback was occurring during it, and some of the people, of course, I know personally.
Traci Brown: Yea.
Jerri Williams: I know the inside story. I know the behind-the-scenes story and I can bring that up. I know I recently did an interview with Jack Garcia, who was . . . a lot of people know Donnie Barasco, Joe Pistone, because of the movie. Well, Jack Garcia needs to get a movie too. He was on 60 Minutes, and he has a movie deal. It just hasn’t happened yet. But I interviewed him, and he’s been on everybody’s podcast. He was on . . . But nobody . . . and one of the things about him is during his FBI career, he ended up weighing around 400 pounds, and so of course, as an undercover agent, nobody suspected he was an agent because of his weight.
Traci Brown: Oh really?!
Jerri Williams: But nobody asked him about his weight because it’s a sensitive topic.
Traci Brown: Oh, yea.
Jerri Williams: But I know Jack Garcia. He came to my wedding.
Traci Brown: Oh! Yea.
Jerri Williams: I didn’t ambush him. I asked him ahead of time if we could talk about it and what was going on and what that meant, and the pressure that he was getting from management. He is out there doing all of this fantastic work, you know risking his life, but when he gets back to the office, they’re giving him censure letters and yelling at him because he weighs too much. We talked about that. That’s just an example of what I hopefully can bring different to a story that somebody has heard about, and then I also get stories and get people to talk about stories that no one’s ever heard about.
Traci Brown: Those can be just as interesting, because if everybody knows, they kind of tune out a little bit, you know, but it’s the ones that you don’t hear about. There are so many that are so fascinating. Okay, so that’s Retired FBI Case File Review.
Jerri Williams: No. The other way around.
Traci Brown: Oh shoot. I got it wrong. Sorry!
Jerri Williams: FBI Retired Case File Review.
Traci Brown: I have that written down right here. I don’t know why I said it wrong! That’s anywhere you get your podcast.
Jerri Williams: Anywhere you listen to audio.
Traci Brown: And where can people get your books?
Jerri Williams: Yes. Of course, they can get them anywhere you buy books. They’re everywhere, and they’re available as ebooks, print books, and audiobooks.
Traci Brown: Oh, oh cool!
Jerri Williams: Oh yes. All of my books are available as audiobooks too. Again, I have two crime novels: Pay to Play and Greedy Givers. They feature my flawed female FBI agent protagonist, Kari Wheeler. They’re all about frauds. Pay to Play are corruption. Pay to Play. Greedy Givers. I’m working on a new one now, which is Spoiled Sport. Then, of course, you have my nonfiction, FBI Myths and Misconceptions, and I have this fun, fun, fun book that I did with my son, who’s now 31. We did that a couple of years ago, and it’s the FBI Word Search book.
Traci Brown: Oh, so what’s that all about?
Jerri Williams: It’s about the FBI. It’s called FBI Word Search: Fun for Armchair Detectives. It is not your grandmother’s word search book, although I always say she would love it too. It is packed with FBI terms, terminology, advanced things. I might have one on transnational gangs, you’re searching for the words like the Bloods, or MS13. I have one on frauds, economic crime, corruption, and so I love that book, and I’m just trying to get more people to know about it because it’s just fun, and of course, also the proceeds go towards my granddaughter’s college fund.
Traci Brown: Oh yea. We need that. College is no joke these days, how expensive it is!
Jerri Williams: I love for people to visit me on my website, which is JerriWilliams.com and you can learn more about my books and my blog, which is about the FBI in books, TV, and movies, and of course, my podcast interviews, FBI Retired Case File Review.
Traci Brown: Oh, I love it! Okay, so if you could leave people with one tip so that they don’t become a victim of fraud, because you’ve seen thousands of frauds by now, what is the one tip?
Jerri Williams: You know, the tried and true one that we’ve always heard about, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Traci Brown: There you go. Easy enough. Straight from the FBI. You heard it here first people! Jerri, thank you so much for coming on Fraud Busting!
Jerri Williams: Thank you for having me. This was fun! It went by so quickly. Are we done already?
Traci Brown: We’re done!