The Case of the Filipino Basket—A TruView Investigation
By Tim Hendrickson
The single prop Beechcraft C23 touches down on the dirt track runway with a jolt. The isolated strip of hardpacked earth cut through the surrounding jungle is the closest the pilot is able to get to the suspected location. There will still be miles of hiking up precipitous hills and, even then, who knows if the Subject will even be there? Stepping out of the plane and back onto the surety of sound footing, the Investigator waves at the dust kicked up from the landing with his wide brimmed sable fedora. A quick consult of his map and compass, a swig from a canteen, and he proceeds into the jungle.
For hours the Investigator perseveres, carving his way through ensnaring vines, languishing under the stifling humidity under the canopy. At the end of his heading is a clearing. At the end of the clearing, a village. At the end of the village, a house. The Investigator sets up before the door, rubbing a hand over his three-day stubble while checking the number. Satisfied he’s found the right home, he knocks. After a moment, a diminutive woman answers. The Investigator removes his fedora and presses it to his chest.
“Good afternoon, Ma’am. I’m here on behalf of a United States municipality’s employee retirement system, and I believe you may be a beneficiary. May I come in?”
Okay, so our investigator wasn’t Indiana Jones trudging through the jungle in Raiders of the Lost Ark. If anything, TruView case number 01409SM-01 was more akin to the marketplace scene, where Indy was searching for a basket in a sea of baskets. Tasked by a U.S. municipality and TruView Client to find either their pensioner or the designated beneficiary, TruView embarked on a 10-month international investigation that ended in Tagbilaran City, Philippines. In this, our Indiana metaphor holds true to one thing: the lengths TruView goes to get results for our Clients.
Upon receiving the assignment, TruView implemented its Pre-Investigation Intelligence Collection, leveraging databases, publicly available social media postings, and open source intelligence to generate a profile of our Subject. Deriving information that provided not only a last known address but also a comprehensive list of family and associates, we launched our primary investigation phase. As the Subject was originally from the Philippines but most recently resided in Hawaii, a two-pronged approach followed our leads simultaneously.
Our analysts and investigators combed through the data, contacting those that might have last seen the Subject, while at the same time leveraging government records and connections. For example, we established contacts with the Office of Vital Records in Hawaii, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Manilla. To no avail, the Subject could not be positively located through those means.
After following our leads to two-, three-, and four-times-removed associates with still no result, we next turned to outside-the-box solutions. Using addresses of Subject family and friends, TruView investigators began contacting nearby senior living centers, police precincts, retirement communities, and funeral homes for information that would help build a picture of the Subject that would yield additional leads. At a certain point, we learned the Subject had an affinity for cats. Our team started visiting pet stores.
Our investigation also found that we could rule out Hawaii as a location of residence, and we uncovered another tidbit: a possible alternate married name for one of the Subject’s sisters. With this new information, we refocused on the Philippines. We revisited one of the international relationships we had developed at the outset and requested them to run the alternate married name. An address was returned, and an investigator was dispatched into the field.
In the Philippines, our investigator confirmed the sister’s relationship to the Subject. We learned that the Subject had resided in the Philippines but had passed away, and we were able to obtain a copy of the death certificate. Returning the proof to our Client municipality, the employee retirement system updated the information in their database and reinstituted payments to the proper beneficiary.
Our investigation traversed the globe, just like dashes during a map montage. Through every twist and destination, the TruView Investigative Team left no stone unturned, ultimately leading to our client’s desired result. You might say we had found the right “basket.” Or perhaps, as Indy would say, “X” marks the spot.
About the Author
Tim Hendrickson is Managing Director – Investigations for TruView BSI, LLC, responsible the company’s global investigative and risk-based intelligence operations. Tim is a former commissioned U.S. Army Officer with five years of active duty service, including two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he maintained a Top Secret Clearance as a Military Intelligence Officer and analyst, serving as a military advisor and liaison to the National Information and Investigation Agency, the Iraqi government’s equivalent of our own FBI.