Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre Warns of the Following Covid-19 Scams

Covid-19 seems to be everywhere and so are fraud attempts and scams that are related to it. It isn’t new that fraudsters typically take advantage of times when people are confused to create more mayhem and cash-in from fear. Creative fraudsters do not care about what happens tomorrow, they only care about benefitting themselves and will exploit any avenue to do so, even the outbreak of Covid-19.

Covid-19 Scams

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and local police departments are warning people about the rise of fraudulent activity, particularly those that are related to Covid-19 which are spreading faster than the virus itself. The warning talks about fraudsters profiteering from consumer’s uncertainties, misinformation, and fears. Below is a list of Covid-19 related scams to watch out for.

Quick Covid-19 Tests

Note that testing for Covid-19 is only done by hospitals because they are the only ones authorized to do so. Beware of fake kits and swabbing procedures that are being sold for a premium.

Essential Products Hoarding and Selling

This activity has many faces. Some consumers have hoarded essential products to sell later at a much-inflated cost. Some people are taking advantage of consumers who are stocking up by knowingly selling fraudulent or expired products at a bargain. There are people selling products that they claim can ward off the virus or provide a miracle cure. Even U.S. Federal agencies have warned the public about this and government agencies are clarifying that no such product exists yet.  And lastly, some scam artists create ads selling products that do not exist and they do not intend to send once payment has been made. It is best to be wary of products that are priced too high or too low or are promising results that are too good to be true.

Fake Anti-Covid-19 Filters and Cleaning Services

Believe it or not, some scheming heating and cleaning companies came up with fake services that offer Covid-19 filters and other similar claims just to drum up business.

Fake Calls About Hydro/Power Disconnection

Fraudulent individuals started making calls to people claiming their hydro or power could be disconnected if they do not pay them or agree to a special deal, claiming that the victim is behind with his/her bills.

Fraudulent CDC and WHO People

The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will never offer to sell access to a list of infected people nor offer tests for sale.

False Calls from Public Health Agency of Canada

Fraudsters are pretending to be from Public Health Agency of Canada and calling people to tell them that they’ve tested positive for Covid-19; and that to get access to a prescription and treatment, they will have to comply with providing their credit card and health card numbers.

Phishing Emails from Fake Government Agencies

Some scam artists are sending phishing emails that look like they are from government agencies. The emails are asking for personal details such as financial details and other sensitive data.

This list just contains some of the most common scams that are related to Covid-19. Know that anything that could be too good to be true and cannot be verified through reliable sources are likely to be scams or misinformation. If you’ve fallen victim to what you think may be a Covid-19 scam, be sure to report to the proper authorities. You may also contact us at Haywood Hunt to avail of our private investigation services. We can help you verify information and help you put up safeguards against scams, Covid-19 related or not.

 

Prevent Yourself from Falling Victim to Mortgage Fraud

Real estate fraud has been seeing an increase in incidences lately. Be it title fraud or mortgage fraud, it seems that more people are falling victim to real estate fraud and it’s about time people arm themselves with information for better awareness.

What is Mortgage Fraud?

Mortgage fraud is when a person intentionally provides incomplete or fake information to a lender to be granted a mortgage that the person may not otherwise qualify for. It can be committed by someone by falsifying appraisal of a property or by claiming to have higher income than what is the reality.

What is Title Fraud?

Title fraud is committed when someone else poses as the homeowner and tries to sell the home or to get a mortgage using a fake title. Basically, entering into any transaction using false identity and/or false title is title fraud.

Real Estate Fraud in Canada       

Mortgage fraud and title fraud are crimes that affect the banking industry, government, and law enforcement. Although there is no central organization that records or collects data nationally, real estate fraud in Canada is taken very seriously by the sectors involved. Note that the majority of the hundreds of billions of dollars in mortgage value across Canada are normal but still, this has taken the attention of involved sectors and measures are being taken to prevent real estate fraud as well as protect people from falling victim to it.

Protection from Real Estate Fraud

Banks are constantly working to protect people against all types of fraud. Most banks have security teams that are working 24/7 enhancing security, upgrading technology, and implementing plans to prevent fraud from occurring. The security teams also keep a record of data to assist the police with investigations if ever criminal activity is detected. Aside from this, banks work together with the Canadian Bankers Association to combat real estate fraud across the country and have task forces cooperating with the government, real estate groups, the police, private investigators, lenders, and lawyers in order to find out how real estate fraud cases can be prevented so that Canadians can be more protected against it.

Protecting Yourself from Real Estate Fraud

The good news is that you can do so much to protect yourself against this type of fraud by implementing the following:

  • Guard your personal information and do not disclose them over the phone, email, or to people you do not know.
  • Check your billing information and mail. Be sure to follow up if certain mails stop arriving.
  • Make sure items that carry your personal information are kept safe or if needing to be disposed, destroyed to render your information not readable.
  • Check your credit report for discrepancies.
  • Ensure that your home is in your name by checking the registry.

Do not worry about how banks are protecting themselves because they have private investigators to help safeguard their processes and data. Focus on how you can protect yourself from fraud and the actions that you can do if you suspect that you’ve fallen victim for one. If you need help uncovering information, feel free to contact us to avail of our private investigation services. We can do more than just investigate at Haywood Hunt, we can also help you initiate practices and put up protective barriers so that you can prevent yourself from falling victim to mortgage fraud.

What Private Investigation Services Can Do for Business Owners and Businesses

There are a lot of private investigation services that business owners and businesses can make use of for protection and for the prevention of fraud and crime. Though the typical notion is that private investigators are only called in to investigate unsavoury activities, the fact is that this is an outdated concept of what private investigation services can do for businesses and business owners. Below are some of the other ways hiring a private investigator can help business owners promote a thriving business.

Help with Collections

It can be very difficult to locate people who do not want to pay debt or those who are hiding assets in order to get around having to pay debt. Private investigators can work with creditors to locate people in debt as well as identify possible hidden assets a person of interest may be covering up. Professional private investigators can get this done legally by using FCRA and GLBA compliant practices.

Perform Detailed Background Checks

Pre-employment detailed background checks is a necessity for some professions and positions, especially for those seeking work in a big company where a small mistake can equal huge losses. Although there are free websites that employers can use, they do not provide detailed and updated reports that professional private investigators can. This can also be done before a company merger or prior to a business deal to better safeguard company assets and reputation.

Employment Monitoring

It can be a problem if some employees work for two companies with conflicting interests. Employment monitoring can nip poaching in the bud as well as prevent company secrets from falling into the wrong hands.

Locate People

There are times when a person has to be located to serve as a witness, as a resource person, or to answer questions. A private investigator can locate missing persons using advanced searching techniques.

Perform Security Sweeps

It is very important for businesses to be able to identify security threats be they be in the form of digital threats or people with questionable motives. Private investigators can identify areas of weaknesses and devise plans to counter security problems before they arise.

Provide Surveillance Services

There are instances where some employees may try to work with rival companies, pretend to be sick or injured, or do things that can harm the business. Private investigators can provide surveillance services to uncover double dealings or scams before they happen or as they happen.

Assist with Termination

Terminating people can get ugly even when they did some wrongdoing. A private investigator can make this process easier as an unbiased third party particularly if the private eye can provide proof of an employee’s wrongdoing such as proof of stealing from the company or sharing information with competitors.

A Lot More!

There are so many ways that private investigation services can help business owners promote a thriving business. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or browse our list of private investigation services to find out which one you might need.

 

Private Investigator Tricks for Finding Information About A Person

A lot of people have the perception that private investigators just seem to know information without putting on an effort. The opposite is true. As much as private investigators would want to wish that they have special powers to simply know needed information, the fact is that it takes a lot of work to find information about a person of interest. Below are the top 10 places that private investigators usually use to find information about a person.

Court Records

Court records come in both current and historical form and can give private investigators access to a wealth of information. Plenty of information are available on cases whether they may be criminal or civil cases. A non-convicted criminal charge versus an array of civil charges can say a lot about a person’s character.

Investigative Database

Private Investigators have insider access to professional databases wherein telephone information, public records, social network data, credit header information, and more are compiled about people and businesses. Most of these databases can only be accessed by licensed private eyes.

News Archives

News archives are available via some libraries and online through services like Proquest, Factiva, and LexisNexis for a fee. The information contained here are not available via regular search engines such as Yahoo and google.

Human Intelligence

A big chunk of information used by private Investigators come from people. Interviews with a person of interest’s relatives, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and former friends come with a wealth of surprises that can lead to more information than needed.

Motor Vehicle Registrations

Motor vehicle registrations are often publicly available and can inform private Investigators about what vehicles a person might be driving as well as shed further detail to some needed information such as investigations of hidden assets.

The Internet

Comments, links, web pages, resumes, and more that are put up on the internet under a person’s name can often still be accessed even after the original content was erased. This is especially true for businesses.

Public Records

Property transactions, corporation records, business deals, and various government records are often available on public records. These records are usually indexed and made easier to navigate by services such as WestLaw and LexisNexis.

Government Repositories

Securities and Exchange Commission Records, state government records, military records, lobbyists’ records, military records, and government contract information are just a few examples of government repositories of information. Information here can be requested if not already available online.

Social Networks

There are billions of people who use social networks on a daily basis. Both niche and popular social media networks offer a treasure trove of information especially for businesses and people who are not too careful with what they post.

Garbage

In a lot of places in the world, garbage that has been taken out for disposal is considered public property and people who sort through them are not violating any laws. Consider this when throwing out paper containing private information particularly phone bills, medical records, letters, journals, and credit card bills. Shredding paper with private details is a good practice to implement.

Don’t have time to sort through a lot of work to get the information you want? Why not avail of private investigation services? At Haywood Hunt, our private Investigators can help find people for you as well as gather information on your behalf using legal and professional means. Contact us today!

Where to Find Assets in Public Records?

Finding assets is not as easy as simply looking up a person’s bank details. There are so many different types of assets and not all are fluid money sitting in one’s bank account. What you typically need is an individual’s financial records, but then, a look would require a court order or authorization and may not even provide complete details as some people hide their assets for various reasons. Fortunately, some assets can be found by looking at public records. Below are the best types of public records to look at if you want to find assets.

Divorce Proceedings

Although not all places make divorce proceedings publicly available, there is a wealth of information to be had from those that allow it. You can look up priceless collections aside from bank details, retirement funds, and the like.

Small Business Retirement Funds

Small business owners have a habit of stashing some of their assets in the company’s retirement plan. You can access the data because these companies usually file an annual form with government agencies.

Real Property Records

Records of real property will usually let you know where a person lives as well as other properties the person may have, even if its on the middle of nowhere!

Probate Filings

Assets in the form of inheritance from relatives can be found in local probate filings.

Motor Vehicle Registrations

Motor vehicle registrations can uncover a collection of expensive vehicles as well as let you know what vehicle the person may use on a day to day basis.

Nonprofit Entities

Believe it or not, some crafty individuals use nonprofit organizations to divert funds or to get money via false expense payments and blown up salaries. If someone is employed by a nonprofit, that will be a good starting point to look for assets.

Watercraft Registrations and Aircraft Registrations

Both are required to be registered by law. You can look up the information you need by searching for the company’s name or individual’s name under registrations.

Corporate Filings

Owning a limited liability or limited partnership company as well as involvement in a corporation are ways that some individuals use to hide assets. They use the company name instead of their name when registering property.

Patents and Trademarks

Patents and trademarks can be worth millions. Some people do not register a business or company under their name so looking at patents and trademarks used for that person’s business can point you to the right direction.

Civil Litigation

Records of civil litigation can let you know about business settlements, stock holdings through details in a class-action lawsuit, and many more!

SEC Filings

Do you know that publicly traded companies are required by the law to make certain disclosures that private companies can get away from? You can find out about compensation agreements, stock holdings, stock options, and independent contractor agreements from SEC filings.

Do you need help finding assets for a court proceeding? Let us do the research for you! Our private investigation services will deliver what you need! Contact us today!

 

5 Things That Private Investigators Can Learn from Children

Children are often very curious and ready to ‘investigate’ almost anything. Their minds seldom work with bias and limitations which humans learn later in life. The way they think is certainly an asset for private investigators! At Haywood Hunt, we’ve been a private investigator firm for a very long time; yet, we acknowledge that there are still plenty more to learn so that we can improve the execution of our private investigation services. A quick chat with the team brought up the following list of what private investigators can learn from children.

Indulge Curiosity

As private investigators, we must keep seeking answers and details as part of our jobs. It can become too routine to the point that we know which of our leads may be worth further digging or not. However, there are still instances when a key detail is uncovered without actively looking for it by simply leaving no stone unturned. This is why a curious mind is always a plus in this line of work!

Keep an Open Mind

It is easy to fall into routines and just listen to what usually makes sense. The thing is, not all the truth in the world will make sense. Sometimes there are things that do not seem like they are connected only to reveal how they are linked later. By keeping an open mind, all possibilities are considered. This is especially important when investigating cases.

Follow Logic

When keeping an open mind and trying to maintain curiosity, it can be a problem when private investigators follow a lead only to find out later that it makes no real impact to the overall investigation. By following logic like what children inherently do, it is easier to stick to facts and discard details that offer no value in the long run.

Welcome Creativity

Children are great problem solves because they aren’t stuck to a set of rules. A good private investigator must learn to think this way and be open to solutions that do not fit norms. Sometimes, answers are best uncovered when looking at things from another perspective.

Be Daring

Private investigators need to follow a lot of rules to make sure that information obtained are accessed through legal channels so that they remain admissible in court. As a result, most private eyes tend to settle into a comfort zone and that zone becomes their specialty. Specialization of services is mostly good, but it should be acknowledged that in some instances, taking on challenges can be great for professional growth too.

Overall, being a private investigator is a rewarding career that offers plenty of exciting opportunities for learning and growth. With this said, even private eyes with decades of experience can surely benefit from learning new tricks. At Haywood Hunt, we make sure that our private investigators are kept updated about the latest changes in technology and techniques so that we can do our job better and keep delivering exceptional results. Our wide array of private investigation services and happy clients are testament to this. If you want to know how we can help you, contact us today!

Two Oakville Men Accused of Take-Over Fraud

Two men from Oakville are currently facing charges of fraud and forging documents related to taking over ownership of an Etobicoke bakery. The two men allegedly did not pay but ended up getting ownership of the bakery through fraud.

What the Police Says

According to Toronto police, the two men approached the owners of the 36,000 square-foot bakery in Etobicoke and agreed to buy the building for a certain amount. The men, operators of Easton Pharmaceuticals, are alleged by the police to have no intention to pay and was found out to have altered attorney letters to make it look like they are truly buying the building. The men failed to transfer the payment after the ownership was transferred.

51-year-old Vincent DeMasi of Toronto and 49-year-old Evangelos Karayannopoulos of Oakville were arrested and charged in late October 2019 for fraud and forging documents. According to the police, Evangelos Karayannopoulos also goes by the name Evan Kerras.

Easton Pharmaceuticals is based in Toronto and describes itself as a specialty pharmaceutical company on its website. The company claims it developed and owned FDA-approved drugs for wound healing previously. Current stocks are traded on OTC Pink exchange. The company’s trading rights have been suspended by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on November 20, 2019.

Caught Off-Guard

Both DeMasi and Karayannopoulos claim to have been caught off-guard by the charges against them, according to an email addressed to the Star. Karayannopoulos claims that their legal counsel has no knowledge of any request for information by the Toronto Police and was equally appalled and shocked about the charges and allegations against DeMasi and Karayannopoulos. He further said that the true victims will be revealed after investigation and that those responsible will be held accountable for their actions.

How Events Unfolded

Easton Pharmaceuticals announced in April 2019 that they’ve acquired the bakery, Supreme Sweets Inc. and called it a strategic acquisition for Easton so that the company can enter the Cannabis Edibles market to create premium Cannabis Edibles for various needs. The property is located in Brockhouse Rd. in Etobicoke.

In a suspension order issued in November 19, 2019, The SEC found that there are questions regarding the adequacy and accuracy of the information about the company’s recent public announcements about the acquisition as well as about the company’s operations, specifically the press release dated April 24, 2019 which stated that Easton Pharmaceuticals completed its acquisition of Supreme Sweets Inc. In summary, there are a lot of data and claims that do not match up, including claims of operating fully functional video slot games for release to American Casinos in the near future.

High-Value Fraud

Police are worried that there might be more victims. Toronto Police’s Financial Crime Unit found out about the high-value fraud, with DeMasi and Karayannopoulos taking possession of a 36,000 square foot building along with about $9 million worth of industrial machinery without having a single cent exchanged on the closing date. Toronto Const. Victor Wong urges anyone with information to call the police at 416-808-7373.

Were you or anyone you know a victim of business fraud? Let our private investigation services help you! Contact us at Haywood Hunt and schedule an obligation-free consultation to find out what we can do for you.

 

 

 

How Private Investigators Can Find People for You

As private investigators, we often get asked the question “can a private investigator find someone?”. In fact, it is one of the most common questions we get on a daily basis! So, what is the deal? Can a private investigator find someone, indeed?

The short answer is a resounding YES. We can find almost anyone with our private investigation services although success rate as well as how soon a person can be found depend on various factors. There are many things to consider from a legal point of view as well as the available information on hand. Below are factors to consider before hiring a private investigator to find someone.

Reason for Finding the Person

Private investigators are bound by the federal and provincial laws to uphold certain standards. Ethics is also a reason why private investigators can’t just dole out powerful information for no reason at all. If you’ve been looking for someone, like a friend or family member that you’ve lost contact with, private investigators are more likely to take your case. If the person you are looking for is an old flame or an ex that you want to keep tabs on, then a private investigator might decline if your reasons don’t seem to be harmless.

In some cases, private investigators will also contact the persons you are looking for to inform them that you are looking for them and ask them if they are fine with sharing their information to you.

What Details You Can Share

It takes information to find someone else. If you can provide a name, estimated age, and location of the last contact, the private investigator is more likely to succeed in finding someone for you versus if you only want to find someone who was wearing a blue shirt at a bar a few years ago.

The less information you have, the longer the search will take because the private investigator may have to pursue multiple dead ends and wrong leads before finding the person you are looking for. It takes a lot of skills, legal workarounds, and tens if not hundreds of man-hours to find someone.

Is It Necessary to Physically Find the Person?

It is one thing to find someone online but a whole other level to find out where someone lives. If you need to find someone to serve papers or for some legal matter like for a court order, this will take time and cost more because you might also need surveillance services.

How Much Can You Spend on Finding Someone

As mentioned earlier, finding someone can take tens to hundreds of hours. That is going to cost you some serious cash more so if you can only provide very vague details. You can choose to DIY a bit by using consumer-based online databases but the main thing we want to emphasize here is to be reasonable with your expectations.

Remember, when you hire a private investigator, you are not only paying for his or her time but also for the years of experience that it took him or her to have the needed private investigator skills.

Are You Patient Enough?

The less information you can provide, the harder and longer the search will be. Imagine if you can only provide a common name like John Smith. There are thousands of John Smith in the world! Finding the right person will literally be like looking for a needle in a haystack, even for a seasoned private investigator!

Are you ready to find someone? Contact us at Haywood Hunt for a consultation on which of our private investigation services may be able to help you the most to find a missing person or locate a person of interest.

 

Canadians Lost $22.5M in Romance Fraud for 2019

The number one scam in Canada in 2019 was romance scam, with Canadians losing more than $22 million to it. The numbers for 2019 have not fully been tallied, so the number is likely larger than this.

Even Women Are Victims

When talking about online romance fraud, the common misconception is that it only happens between an older male victim from a richer country and a younger attractive girl from some other part of the world. The truth is that many women fall for romance scam fraudsters too. Michelle Boyer of Ottawa sent more than $3,000 in money transfers over the course of 10 months to a man she met online who used to send her romantic poems. The poems turned out to be from a poetry website.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or CAFC, romance scams currently surpass all other forms of fraud in Canada in terms of money lost. The numbers may look like a lot, but authorities believe that less than 5% of victims talk about getting scammed.

What Are Romance Scams?

Romance scams are when some bad people with false romantic intentions attempt to make someone else trust and confide to them in order to get access to the victim’s money, bank accounts, or credit cards. The fraudsters usually find their victims on online dating sites or social media.

A Huge Emotional Blow

Part of the reason why victims do not file complaints is that they are busy trying to deal with the emotional impact of finding that that someone they have feelings for was a complete fraud. The emotional loss is far more significant than the financial loss in most cases. Some feel ashamed that they’ve fallen for such a scheme and some may simply not know who they can talk to without being judged. They also know that since most of the scammers are based overseas, reporting their loses will not mean that they will be able to get it back.

Quebec and Ontario Beware

More than 66% of romance scam victims are from Quebec and Ontario, with one victim reportedly shelling out more than $72,000. To this day, there are no public data about romance scams or online dating scams so finding out where most of the money gets sent and where the fraudsters are based is not going to be easy.

Prevention is the Key

The only way to fight online dating fraud and romance scams is through prevention via proper education. Warning signs to watch out for include:

  • The scammer claiming to be from somewhere nearby but working overseas
  • The scammer claiming to be in need of financial help despite having a lucrative business or job
  • The scammer wanting to develop a long-distance relationship despite not meeting or only communicating online for a few days or weeks
  • The scammer wanting intimate photos or very personal details (which can be used for extorting money later or for identity theft)

Authorities say that there is no harm in using dating sites and talking to strangers online as long as someone is aware of the risks and watches out for red flags. Some romance scammers use the promise of love to turn another person into a money mule for money laundering.  Fraud experts say to simply stay away from things that seem too good to be true or quick professions of love from someone online. If you suspect that someone might be scamming you, contact us and let our private investigation services uncover the truth. More than love, you deserve peace of mind. Leave the internet dating investigations to us.

 

Holiday Scams to Watch Out for in 2019 and into 2020

The full swing of the holidays is just a few days away, but the scam artists are just getting started. It is time to be extra vigilant to avoid getting scammed especially when holiday shopping. Below are some of the most common holiday scams to watch out for in 2019.

Loan Scams

Holidays usually means spending a lot of money. Loan scams prey on people who need extra cash during the holidays. These fraudsters offer loans to people who need cash and then they used the personal information provided to demand payments. This is why authorities are urging people to only seek loans from established providers.

Online Shopping Scams

Online deals are usually offered by brands and stores around this time of the year but scammers have found a way to take advantage of the holiday online shopping rush as well. They usually offer once-in-a-lifetime deals that later turn out to be for counterfeits or for an item that does not exist. No matter what the rush is, it is still better to buy from trusted stores that use credit card protection and payment protection. More so, stay away from deals that sound too good to be true.

Sim Swapping

Incidences of identity theft are becoming more sophisticated with fraudsters now sending phishing emails that look like they are from valid network providers which tell the victim that they’ve won some holiday contest. The victim will then be asked to provide personal details to claim the nonexistent prize which the fraudsters will use to take over the victim’s mobile account. Once the mobile account has been taken over, it is only a matter of time to gain access to emails, social media accounts, as well as bank accounts via the hacked mobile number. Sometimes the initial message can come as a text or email from the service provider so it is best to call the service provider using another phone to verify if the message or email is real.

More Phone Scams

Phone scams are forever evolving and becoming more sinister. The CRA Scam is one example, with the fraudsters claiming to be from Canada Revenue Agency and threatening the victim with an arrest for supposedly delayed payments or back taxes. A new scam claims that the call is from Service Canada and asks the victims for the victim’s social security number or SIN. Once compromised, this is a scam that is very challenging to recover from. The fraudster gains access to very personal information such as the person’s name, date of birth, and more. Later they will demand cash and ask the victim to deposit in a safe account. It should be noted that Service Canada won’t call people to ask for personal details same as Canada Revenue Agency.

Do you need help uncovering a scam or want to protect your personal data online? We can help with both! Our private investigation services are constantly evolving and now include fraud prevention and protection. Contact us at Haywood Hunt to find out what we can do for you!