Former FBI agent Jim Casey visits Fraud Busting. We talk about auto fraud, how he got primary evidence to solve who blew up PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the corporate asset protection he’s done, and the high end investigations he’s doing now including deaths and kidnappings These stories will amaze you.
Here’s the Transcript:
Traci Brown: Jim, thank you so much for coming on Fraud Busting. It’s a real honor to have you.
Jim Casey: Thanks so much for having me.
Traci Brown: Now you are a retired FBI agent, but you have a lot more going on. Why don’t you just tell us a little bit about yourself.
Jim Casey: Sure. I was a law enforcement office for 32 years. I was a police officer for about five years. I was a special agent in a smaller department that many people know, the federal department of the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service. I did that for a couple years and then I went to the FBI, and I was there for 25 years. I retired in 2012 as the special agent in charge of our Jacksonville field office in Jacksonville, Florida. Since 2012 I’ve had a variety of post bureau careers, as we call that. I’ve been a corporate VP for asset protection. I’ve worked for myself a couple of times doing private investigations. I’ve been with a local security company here in town that still does a lot of man guarding operations, and recently we spun off a completely separate company from that called FCS Global Advisors where we’re doing high level investigations, background investigations, due diligence for mergers and acquisitions, corporate work, litigation support, things like that.
Traci Brown: Oh wow. Okay. We have a lot we’re going to talk about, but let’s get to know you a little bit first. What is the most unusual thing you found yourself doing during lockdown? We’re coming out of in now, and I know you’re in an area of the country, because you’re in the Southeast I think, that’s a little more open right now than maybe where I am here in Colorado. What’s the craziest thing that you found yourself doing where you’re like, I can’t believe I just did that?
Jim Casey: Yea, it’s kind of a good news/bad news. I talked about how we spun off this company and we’ve talked about it for a couple years because of my background, and the owner of the big company, Firstco Security, FCS, the man guarding operation, he is a former NCIS agent and a fascinating guy himself. We’d always talked about, we really need to spin off and do investigations and not just man guarding, so we had decided probably around the first of the year to go ahead and do that, and we launched it on March 1st. That’s right in the middle of COVID hitting everything and law firms shut down, businesses that would ordinarily have you doing investigations and things like that, it just wasn’t happening. But it did leave us a little bit of time to do the licensing, get all of the requirements for the state backup, to do some marketing efforts, get together collateral, and things like that, so we’ve been doing a lot of that. I mean, I’ve done a lot of podcasts. I’ve written a number of articles for newspapers. I was on Fox News a couple weeks ago talking Antifa versus Neo-Nazis, and things like that, just getting the word out that the company is out there and what our specialties are.
Traci Brown: Oh wow. That’s the craziest thing you did? You didn’t like binge or hoard toilet paper or anything like that?
Jim Casey: There was no toilet paper to hoard. I did not watch Tiger King.
Traci Brown: You didn’t?! Well, I’m glad you had a calm and successful lockdown. That’s good. Most of the law enforcement guys that I’ve talked to do, because I think ya’ll are used to operating in emergency circumstances quite well. Good for you. Let’s jump in. We talked a little bit last week and you’ve had some pretty interesting cases that you’ve been involved in, and I imagine a few more have even bubbled up over the weekend since we chatted. Craziest case you’ve worked on involving fraud, what do you think that is?
Jim Casey: The craziest case with fraud would definitely be a long-term operation we did when I was assigned to the Detroit division. I was in Detroit for almost nine years when I first joined the bureau. We had a really successful and really fun case to work on. It’s probably the kind of thing that the FBI doesn’t do a lot of anymore just because the priorities of the day with counterterrorism and counterintelligence and cyber have really become the top efforts of the FBI. But at the time we worked on an undercover operation where we created our own import/export company and we professed to export high-end Mercedes Benz’s, BMWs, Jaguars, boats, and things like that. We were supposedly exporting those overseas and the method we did it, the price that we were willing to pay for these things, created the aura that you had to know that it was an illegal operation. Just to put a fine point on it, there were also a number of targets we were going after. They were people that we knew that were in this business that we couldn’t catch, and the only way to catch them was to entice them into sort of being a middle man that could give them a pretty good return on their investment. We did that operation, and it really lasted like 18 months. It was really crazy. One of the top targets we went after, we were very successful at getting him to do business with us, in fact, he sold us seven stolen Mercedes Benz’s. The guy was really top shelf. He went over the top to change the VIN numbers on these things to create false titles, to have keys made. It was really a good scheme by him, but we were so successful with him and we were bringing in other people that he didn’t know, that we had to kind of keep this thing going because we couldn’t shut it down to prosecute people. We ended up having to buy a lot more merchandise than we ever needed or wanted, and we had to get extra warehouses to move this stuff so when the bad guys came in they’d think it went off to Kuwait or something like that. That was probably the biggest fraud related thing. We recovered over – I don’t know – $1.8 million in cars and property and things like that, prosecuted I think 21 different people. It was a really fun project to work on.
Traci Brown: Fun. Prosecution’s fun. Yea. (Laughing). Let’s talk about that. Is that kind of thing still going on? Were the cars from the states and then you had overseas buyers? Mercedes are from overseas anyway, so how did all this really stack up?
Jim Casey: In a nutshell, I’ll go over the scheme that this thief used. It was a good one. He would basically identify a Mercedes Benz that he wanted to steal. He’d see it on the street, right, and he could run the vehicle identification number. He could look at it, write it down, and then he would – now some of this you couldn’t even do today because computers and technology have made this difficult, but he would write down the vehicle identification number, and the he would literally call a Mercedes dealer and say, “You know, I lost both of my keys to my car” and what Mercedes would do was make a new key. They would make it off the vehicle identification number. He would know who owned this car, and he would have an associate of his go to a third state, like if this happened in Michigan, he would say he was in Pennsylvania and he lost the car key, and he would have the associate go to the dealer with a fake ID that they had made up, a driver’s license that looked really good, as the owner of the car, so they would just give him a key to the car. The associate would bring the key back to Michigan, and they would just go use the key to the start up the car in the middle of the night and drive it off.
Traci Brown: Oh man, that is gutsy.
Jim Casey: It is. Then they would take it a step further. They would bring it to a garage, and he would literally take out the VIN plate that’s up near the window. Every car has that little vehicle identification number. He had a bunch of blank VIN plates that he somehow acquired from a factory in Germany, and he would re-stamp the VIN plate with a different number than the original VIN number. Then he would create a fake certificate of origin, like the car was new. These cars would only be like a year or two old. He would have another associate go to a third state and re-register the car in the fake number. That’s the part you could never do today because when these DMVs in different states would start running the number that you bring them the certificate of title to, they would see that it’s a bogus number that doesn’t exist. But at the time you could do that. That would create a real title. It would have a fake VIN number on it, but it would be for that car you just put the VIN plate in, and then he would sell it.
Traci Brown: Wow. Was he selling it, like I don’t know, 50% off or what was the . . . ?
Jim Casey: You’re really onto it. That was part of the scheme. He would have other friends that were just as shady as him or at least of shady character, and he would call them and say, “I’ve got this $50,000 Mercedes Benz. I’ll sell it to you for $25,000, but here’s the deal. You can never take it in to a Mercedes dealer and have it serviced. The DMVs couldn’t run this number and figure out that it was a fake car, the Mercedes dealer could because they were keeping track of cars by the vehicle identification numbers. He would tell them, “If you ever needed service, you let me know. I got a guy.”
Traci Brown: Oh no.
Jim Casey: He had a mechanic that would literally fly around the country fixing the cars. This is how we caught the guy. The mechanic became a source. We knew kind of what the gig was. That was the way he did it. You what he would do to a couple people? He would call them up after a year or so and say, “Hey, you got this $25,000 car. It’s worth $50,000, that I sold you. Sell it back to me for $25,000, report it to your insurance company, and they’ll give you $50,000 for it, that it was stolen. Some of them did. Some of them would say, “No, no, no. I don’t want to do that. I’ll buy a car from you that I can claim I didn’t know was stolen but doing insurance fraud is kind of a bridge too far for me.” He would steal it back from them anyway because he had the key, and then do the whole scheme over again. It was amazing.
Traci Brown: Oh, wow. You guys had to set up a fake import/export business to buy some of these cars?
Jim Casey: Right.
Traci Brown: Okay. Then what ended up happening?
Jim Casey: Interestingly enough, once we had – I think we bought seven cars from him, but we didn’t need to. We could have bought two. We could have bought one really.
Traci Brown: Right. But as I mentioned, we got other people that were kind of in on different schemes, so we had to kind of keep this one going to finish up the other schemes. Eventually we arrested him, and he fled. After he was arrested, he fled out on bond, and he fled. He went overseas and we featured him on America’s Most Wanted. They actually made a really cool America’s Most Wanted case where they re-created the whole thing on America’s Most Wanted, and as a result of America’s Most Wanted, eventually we captured him again when he came back.
Traci Brown: Oh wow. Because America’s Most Wanted, they just do the unsolved cases, right, just to try to catch . . .
Jim Casey: They really wanted to do this one because a lot of the cases were sort of husband murders wife, husband disappears. There were a lot of cases that America’s Most Wanted did that were a lot alike, and this one had a different angle to it. It was kind of a unique case.
Traci Brown: Oh yea. Wow. That took you, what? 18 months to do?
Jim Casey: Yea. It was like 18 months that the project was ongoing and then it was another year by the time we got everybody prosecuted, so really almost three years to run the whole thing.
Traci Brown: Oh, wow. When you caught this guy, and you had him and you’re interviewing him, what did he say? How did he . . . ?
Jim Casey: He didn’t say anything. He was not the type of person to talk to us about anything. Basically, just talk to my attorney. I don’t have anything to say. He gave us nothing. Then, like I said, he got bonded out and then disappeared while he was on bond.
Traci Brown: Now, what did he look like? Did he look like one of these guys that you’d think was a criminal or was he in a starched shirt and looking no signs? What’s the . . . ?
Jim Casey: He was a lawyer.
Traci Brown: Really?
Jim Casey: I kid you not. Yea. He was a lawyer, had his law degree, just couldn’t stop himself from doing frauds. He was well known in law enforcement because despite the fact that he was a lawyer, he was always in trouble with the police like as a youngster, doing little things, like when he was young, breaking into parking meters or other insurance frauds. He was just somebody that just had a bent for being a criminal.
Traci Brown: Wow. He just got a thrill out of it. Oh my gosh. What’s going on like that now? Because certainly someone is doing something like that now. Have you heard?
Jim Casey: Yea. My guess is that especially on both coasts, the East Coast and the West Coast, that with shipping containers and things like that, and again with U.S. Customs, with the FBI, with the organizations that used to really chase this stuff, not that they’re not doing in now, but it’s just that the priorities have shifted so much to the national security arena, but I think that there are a lot of cases where vehicles are taken, put into shipping containers, shipped overseas, never to be seen again. I think that absolutely continues to go on.
Traci Brown: How can people protect themselves from this kind of . . . like buying the wrong car or most of the buyers knew it was stolen, but some of them might not have. What are the signs that people can look for when purchasing a vehicle? The reason I’m asking this is because my husband has this idea that he wants a sportscar, so he is looking, looking, looking, and he has been looking for a long time. He’s looking at pricing, whether it’s a BMW or Mercedes, or he’s even thinking about a Shelby. What’s the red flag that guys like him need to look for?
Jim Casey: Most reputable dealers now, they’re only dealing with reputable inventory. Another thing that’s really made this much more difficult is like Carfax, those companies that keep track of vehicle histories and maintenance and things like that, a lot of that has gone away and pushed it well underground so that people have no interest in buying cars like that are probably not going to get caught up in it. You can make sure that you can buy a car that hasn’t been totaled now or hasn’t had flood damage or been in a fire. Years ago, you couldn’t. There were many other schemes associated with vehicles back in the day. It’s not that they don’t exist now. They’ve been pushed down to a much lower level that a lot of innocent people probably can’t get caught up in it.
Traci Brown: Well, that’s good. Yea, Carfax, man, with all those flooded out cars with all the hurricanes and everything. Even the VW and all those cars that were, where they had the engine, where it would trip so that it would register differently when you went to test it. I saw a lot. We have a lot here. It’s down south of Colorado Springs where it must be where they take all these cars because there were just thousands of them just out there. Talk about a huge corporate fraud, man, that is one of them, for sure, with all that VW engine efficiency.
Jim Casey: Oh, that cost them billions probably.
Traci Brown: I’m surprised they’re still around. I don’t know how you could survive that.
Jim Casey: I don’t know either. I don’t know.
Traci Brown: Oh my gosh. Okay. Luckily, we won’t get caught up in auto fraud. Good folks won’t. We have given some other folks an idea or two about what to investigate to get a good car. You have worked on, and we have to get into this because you said you worked on diplomatic security for the State Department and you ended up with some evidence of a very important incident. Why don’t you talk about that for a little bit, from start to finish, because I think that’s just . . . talk about it because fraud really runs . . . it’s not just like consumer fraud. It is state run and really all governments I think are involved in fraud of some kind, even, sadly, the U.S., right, which we are taught to think isn’t, but we’re just as involved as anybody else. What did you do? This is so cool.
Jim Casey: Okay. Some friends of mine still tell me, “You know, Jim, your credited with helping solve Pan Am 103. This was the flight from London to New York, 1988, December of 1988, right before Christmas and folks remember that plane took off from London Heathrow. It got over Lockerbie, Scotland, blew up and 257 people onboard were killed. That was 1988. Go back two years, almost two years to the day, or two years and two months.
Traci Brown: So 1986.
Jim Casey: 1986. I described that I was with the Diplomatic Security Service, DSS, and that’s an organization of about, I’d say today they’re probably 1,200 agents, and they’re all over the world. They’re the ones that are responsible for security at embassies and responsible for ambassador security. They’re responsible for passport fraud, visa fraud, a lot of visiting dignitaries to the U.S. that people think that the Secret Service protects. The Secret Service protects heads of state. If a lesser government official from any country that would have a threat came to the United States, they would be protected by the diplomatic security agents. In 1986 I was with DSS, and I was in a very small counterterrorism unit, three of us working in state headquarters. There was an incident in the country of Togo which is on the West Coast of Africa.
Traci Brown: Okay.
Jim Casey: Lome, Togo. Togo was a very friendly country to the United States. Many of their neighbors were not friendly. They were friendly with the USSR. Remember it was kind of a bipolar world then. You were with the United States or you with the USSR.
Traci Brown: It’s a little bit like that now. Then you got China. You got your three you can pick from.
Jim Casey: Right. Right. But at that time, it was pretty much one or the other.
Traci Brown: Okay. Okay.
Jim Casey: There was an invasion of the small country of Togo. The President of Togo, President Eyadema thought that it was Libyan backed. Now this was when we hated the Libyans because they had attacked our military base in Germany and folks remember that. There was a bombing there. An American service member was killed. President Reagan came on TV and told everybody that there were intercepts from the NSA that proved that it was the government of Libya that did that, and he launched attacks against Libya. This was in the throes of all that happening. The President of Togo says that these Libyans, these Libyan-backed terrorists from neighboring countries like Chad and Ghana, they have launched this attack into my country to try and take over because we’re friends of the United States. They wanted the United States government to come to investigate this and help prove that the Libyans did this. I went over there with a very small team, myself, two agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. There was a third office that was from, we like to say, an other government agency, OGA.
Traci Brown: Oh, what’s that? That sounds secret. (Laughing).
Jim Casey: It is. At the time he was an undercover officer, so I won’t reveal what agency he was with, probably not there anymore. He’s probably long retired, but I’ll still respect that he’s with the other government agency. The four of us went over to Togo to investigate this uprising from a border skirmish. We get there and there are all kinds of things that they had saved. The Togo forces had recovered weapons, plastic explosives, blasting caps, and so they gave us access to all this stuff. We photographed it and tried to do some analysis of it.
Traci Brown: Now wait. They got all this stuff from where?
Jim Casey: They got it from the terrorists. When these guys came across the border, there was a fire fight and they killed 30 or 40 bad guys and then took all their arms, things like that, and brought it to this building to show us.
Traci Brown: Like an evidence room kind of situation.
Jim Casey: Exactly.
Traci Brown: Okay. Alright.
Jim Casey: Calling it an evidence room would be kind. It was more like a thatched roof, open air, part of their army base, is what it really was.
Traci Brown: Okay. Alright. Every evidence room is different.
Jim Casey: Yea. Before we went over, I went over to, I guess somebody from the Pentagon came over to main state because we were going to try and bring whatever we could find back, like plastic explosives or blasting caps that we knew existed. I had this cylinder. It was probably a foot and a half, 18 inches long, and maybe 6 inches wide, and it had a screw cap on it. It was like really high-end aluminum. This guy was a Navy Seal. I remember him telling me, “Okay, this is what we use to transport explosives, so if you find some explosives there, just take the top off, shove some of that explosive down there and put the top back on.” I said, “This thing kind of looks like a pipe bomb.” He says, “It kind of is.” I literally brought this thing over in a diplomatic pouch, and I had a letter from the Secretary of State saying, “You can’t inspect this pouch. Whatever is in there is secret and classified.” We did find some of this plastic explosive. We put it in there. We found some plastic caps; we put it in there. Here is the critical piece of evidence that we found. There were two timing devices that were there. The Togolese let us have one of them, and they were fairly sophisticated. They really stuck out at the time in 1986 as being, you know, much more sophisticated than the rest of the things we were looking at. Everything was rusty. The plastic explosive looked like it had been buried underground and crystallized for a number of years. But the timing devices were kind of new.
Traci Brown: Like what did it look like? Was it like something you’d see in a movie?
Jim Casey: Yea. It was probably like as big as a small cell phone these days, and it had some digital numbers on it, a green keyboard type thing. It was, you know, for the time it was pretty sophisticated.
Traci Brown: Now, was it attached to anything or was it just a little clock?
Jim Casey: It was just like a little clock by itself, two of them, side by side.
Traci Brown: Okay.
Jim Casey: We kind of negotiated to let us have one of those, and we put all these things into that cylinder that I brought and we put it back into the diplomatic pouch, and we brought it back to the United States, back to DC, and wrote up a report of everything we found and brought the timing device to the FBI, because I wasn’t in the FBI at the time, had them take a look at it. They said, “Very interesting. Never seen anything like that.” It went over to the other government agency, the CIA, and they looked it. This part’s well known so I can talk about that.
Traci Brown: Okay, okay.
Jim Casey: They looked at the device, and they said, “No. We haven’t really seen this thing either, but it looks pretty interesting.” They literally, literally put it on a shelf in the basement of the CIA or something like that.
Traci Brown: Okay.
Jim Casey: That was in 1986. In 1988 Pan Am 103 blows up over Lockerbie, Scotland. About 1991, late 1990, early 1991, now I’m in the FBI. I get a phone call from somebody who would go on to become a friend of mine who was in Washington DC. I was in Detroit. He said, “Hey, are you the same Jim Casey that was in diplomatic security back in 1986?” I said, “Yea. I am.” He says, “You’re not going to believe this, but that timing device you brought back from Togo, we think that was one of only 20 devices that were ever made by a Swiss company called Mebo, and all of them were sold to the government of Libya.”
Traci Brown: Oh.
Jim Casey: That was critically important to show that the government of Libya was behind this because it took a while to kind of unravel the mystery of Pan Am 103. There were a lot of different theories as to how this happened. A lot of people thought that the PFLP-General Command, the Palestinian group did it. Other people thought the Iranians did it because people remember a summer before that the U.S. Navy accidentally shot down an Iranian plane over the Gulf and there were tensions there too, but the fact that this timing device came from Libya was critical to prove that the Libyans did it, so what they had me do was kind of re-create my reports and everything and write them in FBI language on FBI paperwork and things like that and kind of redo this. That was 1991. It took until literally the year 2000 for the prosecutions to take place. I kind of worked with the FBI agents that were handling Pan Am 103 and the Scottish National Police and helped put my part in the prosecution together and testified at the trial in the Netherlands of the two Libyan terrorists, who it went on to show, did it.
Traci Brown: Now, there’s a little piece you skipped there, at least for me as a layman on the street. Did they find one of those timing devices in the – because you said that plane exploded. It was like 11 miles of debris.
Jim Casey: Right. Yea.
Traci Brown: Did they find one of those in the junk pile or how did that happen?
Jim Casey: They literally were able to find a piece of the timing device, a similar one, one of 20, that was inside of a suitcase. It had been secreted, they believe, inside of a radio. Remember boomboxes?
Traci Brown: Yea, yea.
Jim Casey: We used to have boomboxes. They think it was kind of secreted inside of a boombox, put inside of a suitcase, and then just to firm up the evidence, there was some clothing, and the suitcase was identifiable, and they were able to track down where the clothing came from on Malta and the fact that there were Libyan intelligence officers who had traveled to Malta right about the same time as the clothing was purchased. There are a lot of good stories out there, a lot of good books that have been written, kind of tying this thing up, good stories on the web. People can read all of the evidence that kind of came together once it was determined this timing device was part of what brought down the plane.
Traci Brown: Oh, wow. That is fascinating. How is it when you’re in service and then something like comes together like this, are you just like over the moon ecstatic? Are you surprised? How does that really . . . like you solve something, but it’s like really a bad situation, so how does that emotional, mental, I guess, state work for you?
Jim Casey: You know, I’d say the single thing I learned being an FBI agent for 25 years and being in law enforcement for 32 years is to always have an open mind. I saw it, I did it myself, we all do it. You know, you get tunnel vision, you get locked in on a theory. Oftentimes the way a case comes together is not the way you thought it was initially. The person you’re convinced did it, didn’t do it. How they did it is not the way it really happened. I saw so many cases, and frankly, we had some unsolved cases. Part of it can be attributed to having tunnel vision and going down a road where you think that this theory is exactly how something happened, and it didn’t. A case like Pan Am 103 is a classic example of competing theories. There were government agencies in foreign countries that all were really sticking with their theory as to how this thing happened, for good reason, they had some evidence that their theory was correct, but nobody had all the evidence until it came together, and that happens in investigations.
Traci Brown: Tell me this. How would that investigation have been helped or impeded in today’s internet world? Because has their conspiracy theories. How many of those actually have teeth? Do ya’ll pay attention to any of that? What’s your idea?
Jim Casey: The higher the profile of the case, the more you’re going to have controversy and conspiracy theory because people know about it.
Traci Brown: Right.
Jim Casey: As opposed to a local crime that happens in your city where people in the community know about it, but it doesn’t really make national news. The bigger the crime, the more theories you’re going to have. In a case like Pan Am 103 probably would be helped along today by more video because the two Libyan intelligence officers who were involved in this thing, we kind of know where they were, traveling between Libya, Malta, Germany. All of their travels we kind of know about, but we probably would really know about it if we had the video today that’s everywhere in modern airports and countries and things like that. You’d be able to go find hard evidence of where these guys were. That clearly would do it. Same thing with communication devices. There are so many crimes right now that are helped along by figuring out where somebody’s iPhone was at a certain time and place. The criminals know that now too, right. It’s almost like if you’re traveling somewhere without your iPhone, that’s evidence to cover your tracks, right.
Traci Brown: Yea.
Jim Casey: Who does that?
Traci Brown: If you’re still for too long.
Jim Casey: Right. That’s right. If you’re in Miami and your cell phone is in Jacksonville, and your ex-wife ends up dead in Miami and you’re in Jacksonville, you’ve got some explaining to do.
Traci Brown: Yea, yea. Oh my gosh. Okay. You have done . . . tell me a little bit about retail that you’ve done, because you were at Stein Mart for a while.
Jim Casey: Correct.
Traci Brown: What was that like? The reason I want to know that is because I want to know how can retailers apply what you learned during your time there now? Because we’re opening back up and more customer contact means more retail fraud, whether it’s just flat out theft or maybe it’s return fraud chargebacks, things like that. What did you learn then that we can apply now? Are you seeing trends in that area? Let’s talk about that.
Jim Casey: I was there for almost five years as the VP for Asset Protection. My advice to retailers is there is a lot more fraud than you want to know there is.
Traci Brown: Oh yea.
Jim Casey: Or admit there is. It is pretty rampant. A lot of it is because retailers want to be customer friendly. That’s the nature of the business, right, and so I think they willingly overlook a lot of fraud because they’re doing it in the name of being customer friendly. Return fraud is a classic example. People almost think there’s a constitutional right to return merchandise. There is no such constitutional right to return anything. It’s just that most retailers have very lenient return policies, especially during COVID. They really kind of have to. Somebody bought something expensive in the end of February and here it is June and they haven’t had a chance to go back to their retailer because something doesn’t work. I mean, I totally understand that. Don’t get me wrong. But there is an awful lot of fraud affiliated with returns. Some retailers are really on top of it and some of them are reluctantly on top of it. They can really drive their profits by staying on top of that. Because as I used to say with return fraud, or any type of fraud really from retail, you lose twice because not only did somebody walk something out the door, most of your inventory systems are not catching the fact that the item is now gone so you’re not replenishing it, so you can’t get the next sale. Yea. There is just a lot of fraud associated in retail and like I said, I think a lot of retailers are on top of it. Some of them get a bad name for being on top of it. Go to Reddit. Reddit, the website, they list like who’s the most friendly and unfriendly to shoplifting and fraud. They know how many asset protection agents are in different stores and things like that.
Traci Brown: Oh wow. There’s also a listing that I saw about the dollar amounts, about where they won’t confess fraud, return fraud or credit card fraud, however it is, it is a high number. Like Target was about $20,000, and that means you could buy 20 TVs at Target and get all the money back if you were smart to work the system. They weren’t the only one.
Jim Casey: I think Chip and Dennis solved a lot of this because it’s very hard now to buy something with a swiped credit card. Those were tailor made for fraud with those magnetic strips because they were so easy to copy. With a chip, you can’t copy it. The banks had to be dragged into this reluctantly. I was there at the time we were going through that conversion from magnetic credit cards to chip. Those magnetic credit cards cost the banks, because they’re the ones that are putting out those credit cards, right, Bank of America, Wells Fargo. It costs them about 50 cents to send you a credit card. It cost about $5.00 for that chip and pin.
Traci Brown: Oh, really?
Jim Casey: So $5.00 times every credit card out there, and to your point, the banks are saying, we’ll just pay it. We’re not going to just willy-nilly just start giving out $5.00 credit cards to every credit card holder in the country. By the way, everybody has more than one.
Traci Brown: Oh yea. I’ve probably got three or four.
Jim Casey: Yea, multiply that times 350 million Americans, and that’s a lot of credit cards. It was a struggle to get the banks to go along with this, but that has stopped a lot of that fraud associated with credit cards.
Traci Brown: Except, maybe you can comment on this, the card not present. Whether that’s Amazon or Best Buy, whatever, if you’re ordering at home, all bets are off, aren’t they?
Jim Casey: Yea, I mean the way they’re tracking that is, and you’ve probably seen it if you’re trying to use an address that doesn’t marry up or a zip code or something like that, that’s where it becomes hard. You’re a bad guy trying to get something delivered off a stolen credit card to where you want it delivered, unless you’re right there to get it when the Amazon truck rolls up, and that happens.
Traci Brown: Oh yea. They stop those trucks and they know their patterns. Oh yea. It’s not a small commitment.
Jim Casey: Right. But we all still get that call from AMEX or Visa saying, “Hey, did you just order plane tickets to Switzerland? or a wide screen TV?” “Nope. It wasn’t me.” The know it because somebody tried to change the address or something like that.
Traci Brown: Um-hum. Yesterday we got a package and we were out, and porch pirating isn’t too bad in our neighborhood, but I noticed that they send a picture of the package on our package, like we for sure delivered it. Anything else that happens is on you now, folks. I think that’s good, a super simple solution to a lot of that fraud. Okay, okay. I want to talk about what you’re doing now because you have a lot of neat stuff going on. How are you helping people? What’s your specialty? This is your chance. You can toot your own horn. It’s all you.
Jim Casey: Okay. Here’s what I’ll say. We have a couple case studies on our web page, so I’d say if people are real interested, go to that web page which is FCSGlobalAdvisors.us. That’s FCSGlobalAdvisors.us. We have an intel page there. It’s just a tab called intel. On that intel page are some of the investigations that we’ve done that kind of highlight the things we can do. I would say some of the most interesting cases I’ve done as a private investigator are death investigations. There are a number of investigations that happen surrounding deaths where either the family doesn’t accept the police version or there is some controversy about it.
Traci Brown: Oh yea. You had one that you told me about. Can you get into that for a minute? That one, I read about it on FCSGlobalAdvisors.us, but you’ve got to talk about it a little bit because it’s so fascinating.
Jim Casey: Sure. This one, you’ve got to be careful with privacy on all of these things, because there are families involved. But I was approached by an estate attorney who knew of me and knew what we could do. His interest was that an estate existed for an individual who was at the time probably about 30 years old. He had literally disappeared when he was about 20 years old. He knew when he disappeared at about age 20 that at about age 25, he would have access to this estate and it was more than $10 million, not something that most people would just walk away from. The individual who disappeared had siblings, and the siblings were being told by the bank and the estate, we haven’t seen this guy for 10 years, he’s not coming in to try to access the money, we can’t get a hold of him, we’re going to distribute the estate to you. The siblings were like, we don’t really want to do that. If he’s still around, we don’t want him to think we took his money or that he’s mad at us or anything like that. They wanted us to prove to the extent we could that he was not alive. This is a hard one. It’s like trying to prove a negative, right.
Traci Brown: Yea, yea.
Jim Casey: What we did was looked and did a deep dive on the guy’s background. Between the ages of 14 and 20, he had been arrested 26 times, serious drug problems, in and out of prison, robberies, stolen cars, I mean, he just got in a lot of trouble. The first clue that he’s really not around is all of a sudden, he stops getting arrested. When you’ve been arrested 26 times between age 14 and age 20 it’s unlikely in the ensuing 10 years you just stop doing these things. He also during the last arrest, when he’d been arrested for the final time and bonded out, he told one of his siblings, I’m not going back. I’m not going back to prison. I’m going to find another path. Shortly after that he took his car and he went from Florida to Arizona and we found out that he sold the car in Arizona close to the border. He sold it for cash and probably had several thousand dollars in his pocket and had disappeared probably literally across the border into Mexico. I talked to a couple agents who were subject matter experts and could testify as expert witnesses on being a fugitive. I talked to DEA agents who could testify as expert witnesses on what would happen to somebody who walks across the Mexican border with several thousand dollars in their pocket and had a drug habit, what would happen to them, and then I was able to engage some of my former FBI colleagues in other cities who had literally worked in South America, Mexico. He had left other clues too. This young man had said that he might go to Costa Rica. He said that he knew his natural father. He was adopted. He knew his natural father was Bolivian. He wanted to go back and see his natural father. We were able to literally go to all these countries through other investigators and have records, like death records and police records, and things like that checked. By putting all of this together, it created a pretty compelling report that this young man was not around anymore and had probably passed away within the last 10 years.
Traci Brown: Wow. Did they distribute the money?
Jim Casey: They did. In fact, the judge actually wanted, the family judge that was hearing this case in Ft. Lauderdale, from Jacksonville, he actually made me come down to Ft. Lauderdale and come in his courtroom and explain to him exactly what my theory was and how everything that I had done because he wanted to assure himself or the rest of the family that the right thing was done.
Traci Brown: Oh, wow. Now, how long did all that take?
Jim Casey: I would say it was a couple months of investigation and then there was a period of time where the report . . . I did pretty comprehensive report and it made its way around between the state attorney, the bank, the family members, eventually to the court, and then I would say another six months or so that the judge summoned me down to tell him what my findings were in person.
Traci Brown: Wow. Okay. What I get from that story is that you’ve got a global network of really experienced, top-notch law enforcement that’s going to help you out when you get engaged with a client. Who else are you working with? How else can you help people? Let’s give people some ideas, right, so that they know who to call when something like this goes on.
Jim Casey: Sure. I would tell people, obviously, I’m biased toward the FBI and our ability to investigate things, but to your point, you’re absolutely right, I mean, we do have this network of hundreds and hundreds of former agents that are sort of in the same space, and I like to say it’s almost like a 500 person or more investigative firm because I literally have a hard copy book. We don’t put it online because we don’t want it to be moved around or anything else. It only exists in hard copy, and we can call each other and say, “Hey, I know you’re in Denver. I’m in Jacksonville.” We’ve never met. I might know you, but I might not either. “But here’s what I need. What are your parameters? What are your costs and things like that?” I know what his work product is going to look like. I know what his writing is going to look like. I know what his training is. He knows he’s going to get paid because anther former agent is not going to screw him out of going and working on a case. We really collaborate with each other like that.
Traci Brown: Oh, I love that. Okay. What’s your favorite kind of client? We know you do death investigations, hopefully not a lot of those, but who are you working with? How can we give people ideas of some of the things that you are specializing in?
Jim Casey: Litigation support, high-end litigation, expensive litigation where lawyers really need to have a thorough investigation or a re-investigation done. We also have the ability to engage a lot of subject matter experts, so somebody that needs to do a survey of a facility or I even have people that are psychologists who can do behavioral assessments and things like that.
Traci Brown: Or a body language expert, you might need sometime.
Jim Casey: Correct. There you go.
Traci Brown: (Laughing).
Jim Casey: Things like that. Exactly. Exactly. Attorneys always have a lot of needs. That’s certainly a clientele. We’ve done mergers and acquisitions. A company is either thinking about being acquired or going and acquiring a company, they know that they can read about them if they’re publicly traded, but what if they’re not? What if it’s a smaller operation? I did that sort of thing for law firms, and we’re thinking of coalescing. What can we find out about the firm, the principals, and things like that? Things you’re not going to find everywhere.
Traci Brown: Oh, wow, so there’s nothing you can’t find out? That’s what I’m getting out of this little segment.
Jim Casey: There’s nothing we can’t try and find. That’s for sure.
Traci Brown: Okay, okay. People can find you at FCSGlobalAdvisors.us. It’s dot us, right?
Jim Casey: Dot us, correct.
Traci Brown: Okay. Good deal. What else do people need to know about you? Any last parting advice about yourself, about how to protect themselves? What do you think?
Jim Casey: I think people just be smart. The old saying about if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t try and be cheap about major decisions. Use your common sense. Your mom is smart. She told you good things. Listen to it.
Traci Brown: Got it. Got it. Alright, cool. Jim, thank you so much for coming on Fraud Busting. You’ve got to come back sometime.
Jim Casey: Absolutely. Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Traci Brown: Oh yea. You bet.