Private Investigators In Virginia

PI Chatter Professional Investigators in Virginia

Former Investigative Reporter Is Now PI

Posted by Bill on December 31, 2007

reporter.jpg  The guest post today is by Scott Krischke of Dinolt Becnel Wells Investigative Group, LLC, Arlington, VA.   Scott is a former investigative reporter.  Scott works with PIAVA member Phil Becnel.  Phil is the managing parner of Dinolt Becnel Wells Investigative Group, LLC, see Phil’s Bio

This is all new to me, as I have recently arrived in the private investigation industry as a former investigative journalist. My work took me to Central America, Chicago and the metropolitan Washington, DC area. As a reporter, I found that I was most useful when I used my background in investigations to best complement my stories. It was my passion and excitement for this aspect of my career that ultimately led me to this profession.

In particular, I remember an investigation that I conducted into the operation of Costa Rica’s real estate notary industry in Fall 2005. I had been working in the country for several months at the time, and remember vividly picking up a daily newspaper outside of Costa Rica’s Supreme Court and seeing that a team of about a dozen real estate notaries had been arrested for stealing millions from would-be investors in sham real estate schemes.

It turns out that the notaries, who had all been registered with the state agency that handles real estate officials, had taken serious liberties with their power. In Costa Rica, a real estate notary is essentially the center of power for any real estate transaction. When two parties want to exchange property, the notary will draft the agreement and the deed, witness the signatures, and report that exchange to the country’s land management bureau. The problem in this case is that these notaries were pulling property information on owners at the country’s registry and selling their land by forging the agreement and deed as well as their signature.

The fraudulent notaries would then pocket the money from the transaction and leave the two property owners to handle the issue. The problem was further compounded by the fact that designated real estate ownership laws did not allow the real property owners a method for redress.

My investigation led me to Alicia Bogarin, who was the head of the country’s notary licensing organization. After several attempts, I was able to secure an interview with Bogarin, who revealed to me that the country’s notary system was inherently unstable.

There were virtually no restrictions for those seeking notary licenses, as even notaries with convictions for real estate fraud and other financial crimes were eligible for the licenses. There were no limits on how many notaries could be licensed – we counted more than 10,000, a large number for a country of only 3 million residents. The lack of legal checks on submitted real estate transactions further compounded this problem.

The results of my investigation were put on the front page, but it is unknown how much affect that they had on a licensing industry that is still run primarily through paper communication out of a small office tucked into a corner of the urban sprawl of the country’s capitol, San Jose.

It was in speaking with the people who were affected by this fraud that I really became interested in investigations as a career. The possibility of helping people who have been the victim of a crime or other offense is very attractive to me, and I wanted to become more involved from a proactive stance.

It is for this reason that my career led me to Dinolt Becnel & Wells Investigative Group LLC. After undergoing more than a month of intense training offered by their in-house investigation school, I have been involved in learning this active side of investigations. My work here will lead me to areas that I had once covered as a reporter, only this time as an active participant in the legal process. I will cover criminal, employment, corporate and fraud cases on behalf of our clients, and am incredibly interested in delving further into this area of the law.

It is my hope that I can take all of the skills and experiences I have developed as an investigative reporter to their fullest extent to my new career as a private investigator.

– Scott J. Krischke

Dinolt Becnel & Wells Investigative Group LLC

927 South Walter Reed Drive
Suite 23
Arlington, VA 22204
Office: 703-892-3700
Fax: 703-842-8041


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