Corporate Investigations: Stolen Vehicle, Fraudulent Credit Card Scheme…Merry Christmas! E-newsletter Article
In December of 2019, the owner (Client) of a specialty car rental company called Texas Investigative Network, Inc. about a corporate investigation regarding a high-end Mercedes Benz sedan that had been stolen. Our client informed us that the customized Mercedes Benz was valued at $ 150,000.00.
The client stated his company had previously entered into an agreement with a customer to rent the vehicle; however, once the rental agreement expired, the customer claimed the vehicle had been stolen from his driveway. After several phone calls between our client and the customer, the customer told our client he didn’t know where the vehicle was and to leave him alone. The customer immediately became a suspect. This suspect further stated that he had tried to file a police report, but law enforcement would not accept the case since he was not the owner of the vehicle. Our client attempted to locate the vehicle by tracking the GPS unit, which had been installed on the vehicle, only to discover that this unit had been removed from the vehicle.
TIN promptly initiated a background investigation and covert, mobile surveillance of the suspect. TIN verified that the suspect was currently serving a probation sentence for Assault Causing Bodily Injury (family violence). This information made it clear that our suspect was no stranger to criminal activity.
The suspect was observed on each of the first three days of surveillance; however, the stolen Mercedes was nowhere to be found. Early on the fourth day of surveillance, a TIN Investigator arrived at the suspect’s residence and observed a vehicle (with dealer license plates) in the driveway that matched the stolen vehicle’s description. While updating the client, two additional TIN Investigators quickly arrived on-scene, along with a client rep to inspect the vehicle.
TIN Investigators noted that a small piece of paper had been strategically placed within the vehicle to obstruct the vehicle’s VIN number from being observed through the windshield. The highly customized interior and other unique marks on this vehicle allowed our client to confirm positively that this Mercedes Benz was in fact the stolen vehicle. At this time, the client contacted local law enforcement and informed the agency of our situation.
While waiting for a police officer to arrive, our suspect’s brother exited the residence. TIN Investigators questioned the brother and found him to be extremely uncooperative. The brother would not provide any information regarding the stolen vehicle, how it ended up at this residence, or about the suspect (his brother).
Later, another client rep arrived on-scene with a key fob for the stolen vehicle. The employee was able to remotely unlock the vehicle and verify that the VIN number for this vehicle matched the VIN number for the stolen Mercedes Benz. TIN Investigators conducted a quick search of the interior of the vehicle and found a high-end printer used for producing fraudulent credit cards and a stack of credit card blanks. TIN Investigators also located the original license plate for the vehicle, which had been placed in the trunk.
Corporate Investigation Results
Once the detective familiar with this case arrived on-scene, he attempted to question the suspect’s brother, who remained uncooperative. The detective quickly had the suspect’s brother placed in handcuffs and detained in the back of a police vehicle while he continued his investigation. The detective decided to have the stolen vehicle towed to the police department to be dusted for fingerprints. The detective also informed TIN investigators and our client that the suspect originally paid for the rental fees by virtue of a stolen credit card.
With the stolen Mercedes Benz now located and recovered, our client was able to breathe a sigh of relief. The information and evidence obtained through this corporate investigation positioned our client more favorably in order to pursue a civil lawsuit and/or criminal charges against this suspect.
About the Author:
Bill Pellerin is the founder and President of Texas Investigative Network, Inc., a Texas Corporation founded in 1994. The company employs licensed investigators in Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, and San Antonio, Texas, and conducts investigations for several major Texas corporations, law firms, insurance companies, and financial institutions. Learn more