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Private Investigators Indicted for Pretext Fraud–Lawyers Probed in Pretext Theft

Posted by Bill on December 7, 2007

Ten private investigators were indicted on December 5, 2007,in Seattle, WA, by the U.S. Attorney’s office.  The ten are:

Emilio A. Torrella, Brandy Torrella, both from Belfair, WA. BNT Investigations, Steven W. Berwik, Belfair, WA, BNT Investigations, Victoria J. Tade, C.I. Inc., San Diego, CA,  Megan M. Ososke, P.I. & Information Services, Beaverton, OR, Robert Grieve and Ziad N. Sakhleh, Robert Grieve International, Houston, TX,  Patrick A. Bombino and Esaun G. Pinto , AAA Allstate Investigations, Brooklyn, NY, and Darci P. Templeton, Houston, TX.  They were charged with Conspiracy to Defraud, Wire Fraud, Fraudulent Elicitation of Social Security Administration Information, Solicitation of Federal Tax Information, and Aggravated Identity Theft–see the Pretext Indictment Dec. 2007.

The ABA Journal Law News reports that the investigation may involve lawyers across the country as many businesses and lawyers hired BNT Investigations to obtain confidential information by pretext.  BNT Investigations obtain confidential information for as many as 12,000 individuals involved in bankruptcies, law suits, divorces and collection efforts.  BNT services were utilized by attorneys, insurance companies and collection companies to investigate the backgrounds of opposing parties and witnesses, and to uncover assets or income for satisfaction of debts, according to the indictment. See Aba Journal. See other stories Seattle Times

The alleged defendants collected information via pretext from the I.R.S., Social Security Administration, various State Unemployment Insurance Departments, private financial institutions, banks, pharmacies and hospitals.  The alleged defendants fraudulently posed as the individuals about who information was sought. 

Particularly disturbing to me is the pretexting of the I.R.S., Social Security Administration and medical facilities.  Clearly obtaining confidential information from the entities is protected by specific laws.  I advise that readers look over the indictment carefully.  Professional investigators do not violate the law to obtain information, and that should be clearly explained to every potential client.  The alleged defendants, the indictment reads, collected federal tax return information (clearly confidential), Federal employment tax records, bank account information, employment earnings from Social Security, prescription and medical information.

If attorneys or other professional investigators used such pretexting methods to collect such information for their cases, there may be serious criminal, professional and ethical implications.  Gathering such information is not worth your license to practice your profession whether you are a professional investigator or an attorney in private practice.

Keep your professions legal and honorable.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

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2 Responses to “Private Investigators Indicted for Pretext Fraud–Lawyers Probed in Pretext Theft”

  1. […] Ten private investigators were indicted on December 5, 2007,in Seattle, WA, by the U.S. Attorney’s office. The alleged defendants collected information via pretext from the I.R.S., Social Security Administration, various State Unemployment Insurance Departments, private financial institutions, banks, pharmacies and hospitals. The alleged defendants fraudulently posed as the individuals about who information was sought. […]

  2. sandrar said

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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