Skip

Catch Me If You Can: Real Estate Edition
December 29, 2013 4:59 PM   Subscribe

Ryan Mullen was on the run for over 14 years. Then, a professional skip tracer named Michelle Gomez got on the case.
posted by reenum (20 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
I always cry at a happy ending. Great read...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 5:51 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Happy ending? The guy got caught.
posted by codswallop at 6:13 PM on December 29, 2013


Happy ending? The guy got caught.

Yes and it's wonderful...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 6:33 PM on December 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


The most troubling lesson she learned from Mullen, Gomez says, is how readily misleading information can migrate from a posting on an Internet forum to official status. “In a second, what’s false becomes true,”

Now where have we heard that before? Just who is this mathowie?


(big long line of :-)'s
posted by sammyo at 6:36 PM on December 29, 2013


None of the things he did even seem that complicated. I'm unimpressed that the initial investigators couldn't do the job (even setting aside the utter negligence of not bothering to check if the $2m theft was real).
posted by jaduncan at 6:39 PM on December 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am sort of frustrated. I amtrying to read the article, the page does a mini-crash. Then I pull it back up. It crashes again. I hate that. I am using an iPod touch. Off to try again since this looks interesting.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:48 PM on December 29, 2013


Good story, the guy is a total degenerate but these types of things always seem so romantic to me. Also, I'm glad for the included photograph of a couple parking spaces in a Hooter's parking lot.
posted by Literaryhero at 7:03 PM on December 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you invent a crime that you committed, can you still be found guilty?
posted by bluefly at 7:11 PM on December 29, 2013


With all of the databases and lists the various TLA orgs are supposed to have, and all of the connection mapping and social graph building that's going on, you'd suppose that this type of fraud would get caught sooner.
posted by tomierna at 7:19 PM on December 29, 2013


Yes, I don't know whether to be relieved or concerned that one private investigator was able to find someone wanted by the FBI and Secret Service through online searches, phone calls, interviews, database searches, and careful reasoning... basically what McNulty would call "police work". Maybe they're getting too dependent on computer flagging and this is becoming a lost art.
posted by ceribus peribus at 7:30 PM on December 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


MeTa
posted by TedW at 8:07 PM on December 29, 2013


Also, I'm glad for the included photograph of a couple parking spaces in a Hooter's parking lot.

I once had a heroin dealer that dealt out of a Hooter's like half the time. It's only anecdotal, of course, but I think the wholesome, family-friendly atmosphere the chain projects might actually be a front.
posted by item at 8:19 PM on December 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


To track down the fleet of Caterpillar wheel loaders taken by the Peruvians, Gomez reached out to the estranged wife of the family’s patriarch, telling the woman that she was pregnant with her husband’s child. The ruse worked: Eventually the wife told Gomez that the heavy equipment was on its way to a construction site in South America.

Totally something Veronica Mars would do.
posted by jcreigh at 8:43 PM on December 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


I, for one, am totally fascinated to know that Rolls Royce has a database of where every car they ever made is.
posted by mollymayhem at 11:33 PM on December 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think it's just the Rolls Royce Owners' Club. It's probably important for collectors to know where other owners are. And I'm not sure how rigorous their verification procedures are, despite the cachet. But then, we didn't find out what happened with the 14 Rollses in this story, either. Fake checks were no doubt involved, possibly even ownership sitches even hinkier than the boat's.

one private investigator was able to find someone wanted by the FBI and Secret Service

First of all, it seems he was not actually on the FBI's radar, despite the cybercrime story, because that was just a ruse. The US deputy marshal knew about him (the ruse, that is) but he wasn't an actual US Marshals case, either, referred to them by a federal agency. And finally, it was only after his apprehension that the Secret Service got involved. The whole time the only people on his tail were the private dicks, and he had a warrant out for contempt of court, which is notoriously a "slow day in hell" priority (most warrant pickups are when someone is arrested for something else or turned up in a traffic stop). So really, there were no Feds on his tail.

With all of the databases and lists the various TLA orgs are supposed to have, and all of the connection mapping and social graph building that's going on, you'd suppose that this type of fraud would get caught sooner.

Yeah, but you see, it actually isn't available to ordinary crime investigators. But really the contradiction here for me is, as noted, how easy it is to GIGO all those systems with bogus identities propped up by the thinnest of supports, like one DBA registration. It's like a zebra camouflage approach to the Big Brother age. At the same time, as pointed out in the Dorner article, most fugitives don't last all that long because people are creatures of habit, and stick with the places and connections they already know.

I was also thinknig about the woman with the secret identity who lived an entire new life in Texas as a counterexample -- she was the exception that proves the rule, because she was able to jettison all those old connections.
posted by dhartung at 12:19 AM on December 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


How effective to inject all that fake information noise into the data stream! Dude.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:05 AM on December 30, 2013


First of all, it seems he was not actually on the FBI's radar, despite the cybercrime story, because that was just a ruse.

I really don't understand the point of purposely planting a fake story about yourself being wanted by the FBI for a fake crime. It seems like that notoriety directly led to the skip-tracer spending time tracking Mullen, and probably also helped her get her contacts to work with her on the case. The article suggests that all of the fake online info helped him evade tracking, but for the most part it seems like he committed a bunch check fraud in the same region using the same name for years and it finally caught up with him.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:43 AM on December 30, 2013


Actually the really impressively stupid thing is that all of the aliases had similar names. That really was a handy red flag over all of them once one was suspected.
posted by jaduncan at 2:14 PM on December 30, 2013


I'm unimpressed that the initial investigators couldn't do the job

One fraudster I chased through the court system had an eviction. On the base contract the fraudster signed he claimed he was an agent for a company that did not yet exist.

The eviction lawyer didn't catch that.

all of the connection mapping and social graph building that's going on

Maltego

Yes, I don't know whether to be relieved or concerned that one private investigator was able to find someone wanted by the FBI and Secret Service through online searches, phone calls, interviews, database searches, and careful reasoning

At the core - FBI/SS/et al are human beings. And if one goes with most are lazy then of course they will do very little.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:37 PM on December 30, 2013


I really don't understand the point of purposely planting a fake story about yourself being wanted by the FBI for a fake crime.

Local law enforcement doesn't want to deal with something if they don't have to. (see upthread lazy)

The Fed has more resources then the local boys in Blue *AND* they have so many laws to charge you under that when Congress asked for the laws to be tallied the office in charge ran outta money before they ran out of laws.

So if the locals look the lad up and see a claim the Feds are on the case what are they gonna do? Call the Feds and ask and get the standard blow-off the locals give "we don't comment on ongoing investigations"?

Now if a Federal form was forged or there is a "lie" on a fed-form that sets one up for perjury. But as E. Micheal McCann said in 1995 - "Outside of income tax evasion, perjury is…probably the most underprosecuted crime in America."

Lie big, lie often or go home.
Metafilter - the least untruthful thing one can say?
posted by rough ashlar at 2:49 PM on December 30, 2013


« Older Project Lucidity   |   One Weird Old Trick to Undermine the Patriarchy Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post