When Vladymir and Svetlana Petrovich
arrived in the US in 1991, part of a large group of Russians fleeing
religious persecution, they and their two accompanying children
settled in Denver, Colorado, and began new lives within the American
Dream. On the day that they crossed over the Russian border, they
were able to leave their old lives behind.
The story of Pablo Jorge Martinez-Perez and his assimilation in the
US began during the same month and year as the Petrovich family,
albeit in a different way. In his case he left his Mexican village,
traveled North to the border, found a low paying factory job in the
northern most region of his country and worked for the many months
it took him to save the money that would buy his passage into the
US. He, too, when running across the border, left his old life
By 1999, all were doing fine and were citizens of our great nation.
A nation of opportunity. Both good and bad. The Petrovich family
traveled through the INS system easily. Pablo took the pathway that
included nuptials, marrying Vanita Adele Jones, a 31-year old
never-been-married book-bindery worker who was born a US citizen. As
a legal spouse, he applied for and was granted US citizenship after
Fast forward 18 years. 2008.
The Petroviches, like so many Americans, were caught in the real
estate market downfall when Vladymir lost his job after the mortgage
lending firm that employed him collapsed. Svetlana's work as a
translator was enough to feed the family, however not enough to keep
up their house payments without dipping into their savings. Within
the next two years the savings were gone and Vladymir's income as an
on-again/off-again day laborer did little to alleviate their dire
Things had also changed for Martinez. He and his wife had parted
ways eight years and two children into the marriage, and he was
working as a janitor for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Vladymir and Svetlana, watching their two decades long "new world"
crashing around them, saw their misfortune increase when Vladymir
was hit by a car when crossing a Denver street. The driver of the
striking vehicle stopped at the scene, called the police and an
ambulance, and was fully cooperative. "It was raining. I didn't see
him until it was too late." Luckily he was well insured. His name
was Pablo Jorges Martinez-Perez and he'd traveled to Colorado to
visit a few family members.
And so the paths of these two naturalized US citizens collided. Both
literally and figuratively.
The economic ending of this chance meeting worked out well -- in a
financial sense -- for the Petrovich family. Vladymir suffered
soft-tissue injuries to his neck and lower back, had a hairline
fracture at L-1/L-2, and had tingling sensations in all four
extremities and that were claimed in a lawsuit to seriously affect
his enjoyment of life. He was unable to go camping with his son
Andrei or bicycle with his daughter Marina. At times he was short
with Svetlana and the marriage was challenged due to his ongoing
pain and discomfort. The proceeds of that lawsuit were enough pay
off the house, buy a new car, put both children through college and
still have a healthy cushion. Attorney Boris Yankovich had done a
good job; one for which he collected thirty five percent.
End of story?
Paul Harvey, a radio and television commentator, long did a piece
called "The Rest of the Story." In it he would tell a story, much
like that appearing above, and then at the crux of the tale he would
reveal what had really happened. At the end he would close with "and
now you know The Rest of the Story."
What did happen here?
Vladymir had grown up in one of the hundreds of thousands of Moscow
housing units that reach into the Russian skies and held extended
families in their 500 square feet of living space. Attorney Boris
lived, with his family, two units away on the same floor. A few
units farther up the hall resided Victor, now a Denver chiropractor,
and Antoly, who was the administrator of a medical clinic. The four
had been boyhood friends, closer than any brothers in a time when
friendships defined survival in emerging communist Russia. All four
had immigrated to the US and become citizens of our great country.
When Great Colorado Equity Insurers, the company holding the
million-dollar-liability-limit paper that insured the Martinez-Perez
rental vehicle, processed the claim and recognized the severity of
the injuries, they opted to pay limits Boris danced all the way to
the bank with his $350,000 share, Antoly did just fine, as did
Viktor. And Vladymir, who was by the way truly injured, was
And now the "Rest of the Story."
On a trip to Los Angeles, well prior to this pathway convergence,
Ramon Jose Baptista-Morales had run into his own boyhood buddy Pablo
Jorge Martinez-Perez. Ramon, deeply entrenched in the Denver staged
accident scene, was working as a runner for one of the larger
organizations. His job was to recruit Mexicans -- those who did not
fit a likely stereotype -- to be participants in well-scripted
accident scenarios. Recognizing Pablo, Ramon saw an opportunity to
enrich himself by another commission -- and Ramon knew how to get
the otherwise law-abiding Pablo to cooperate. Blackmail. "Amigo, do
you think you would have a job if the world knew that you murdered
your mother and your father and then fled Mexico?" Pablo had indeed,
after being beaten to within inches of his own life by
peyote-drugged mother and drunken father for what he swore would be
the last time, set fire to their home as a final act of defiance
before he headed north. He did not know that they were both passed
out inside, although his heart knew that he would have done it
either way. "What do you want?" he asked Ramon. The answer was "Your
secret will die if you do one thing for me. Come to Denver. I
promise you it will be easy."
Vladymir was not a knowing participant; he was merely walking the
three blocks to a local restaurant to have lunch with one of his
(also involved) old friends. The car came out of nowhere and the
impact threw him about fifteen feet. His injuries were real, always
a great thing for a stager who has no true regard for those injured
in a well-staged mishap.
Pablo kept his secret past uncovered, Vladymir was financially set,
Boris made a big pot of money, Ramon, Antoly and Viktor were well
compensated for their parts and everybody lived happily ever after.
Have we arrived at the final "Rest of the Story?"
Of this story: yes. No one will ever know. Of tomorrow's similar
story? Perhaps no.
This crack in the system, the one that allows such stories to be
written, is crumbling.
In the past two years, massive strides have been made in the
collection of International Intelligence. Leaving ones past behind
in a country of origin is no longer a guarantee. The real test is in
how long it will take industry to respond to the challenge of
routinely collecting such data.
The Petrovich-Martinez story, while loosely based on reality, is
fictional -- stated here to illustrate what can and will continue to
occur until industry catches up to this resource. When they do, here
is how it will play out:
The Russian Connection:
In cases of suspect immigrant cartels (industry currently faces
escalating "accident" activity emanating from cluster immigrant
neighborhoods), adjusters will routinely search Russian databases
with an eye toward link analysis. Why? Because unbeknownst to all
but the most astute investigators, such databases can be searched at
reasonable cost, and, in the case at hand, would have quickly
revealed that multiple of the "players" has direct childhood links
to one another. A further understanding of the family-like loyalties
that were produced by these living arrangements would assist in
cracking these rings of seemingly unrelated players.
Russian citizens carry, by law, multiple identifying documents.
Society does not move around in Russia; the vast majority of
Russians will spend their entire lives in only one of two apartments
-- that being just the way it is in that culture. Not only do
addresses get listed in the national databases, but
cross-referencing "neighbors" is also routine. Link analysis becomes
simple. Further, privacy concerns are miniscule compared to those
that we have in the US. Each Russian citizen has three major inputs
of data; the first at age 16. These records are government held, but
they are indeed searchable. Private vendors have access to compiled
records, much akin to how things work in the US. There is a private
vendor in San Antonio who works directly with a Moscow provider, yet
the insurance industry has heretofore not stumbled upon this
solution. There are surely others, too.
Culturally speaking, the boyhood friends were taking care of one of
their own. In the best way they knew how, while enriching
themselves, and ... it worked perfectly. A $99 search could have
served as an entrance point.
In the big picture, we have a case of situational ethics. At what
cost was the Petrovich's house saved? Who actually paid the $1
million proffered by the Colorado insurer? And is there ever a
situation where the little picture is wrong but the big picture is
The Mexican Connection:
Figures from 2009 state that more than 48 million Hispanics live in
the US and that the rate of border crossings is estimated at a
staggering 2 million per year. Many of these individuals,
situationally, are "ripe for picking" by organized criminal cartels.
Once again, technology is the answer. So is education. Mexico does
indeed have an 800 million piece database that covers 95% of all
those born in Mexico. A query through the American vendor that has
exclusive rights to US distribution of this data for insurance,
financial and human resources usage can confirm if a person who
states they are Mexican by birth (either now legally OR illegally in
the US) has a Mexican National Identifier Number issued by the
Federals. There are also six other forms of trackable identifying
information readily available, plus local, state and federal civil
and criminal records.
While numerous US insurers have recently become aware of the
existence of this information, there has been little or zero
cross-industry sharing of latest resources. This fact became readily
apparent at the recent SHRM (Society of Human Resources Management)
national conference held in San Diego, CA. With 11,000+ attendees
and a vendor floor that dwarfs that of IASIU or NHCAA (it looked
more like RIMS), we queried 15 major providers of Background Records
on if they had the ability to go back beyond the "cross the border"
date of a potential employee. In every case we learned that the HR
industry searches only US records except in fringe cases, generally
after the fact, and then it is done via private investigators, at
large cost, in individual Mexican states. Not one vendor was aware
that they could now confirm an identity of a potential employee for
less that $40.
In the fabricated case of Pablo Jorge Martinez-Perez, this same $40
would not only confirm his identity as a real one (not one that was
produced in a back room fake identity mill on Figueroa Avenue), but
could extend to a revelation of a criminal trail. The US Courts
heavily rely on the doctrine of "knew or should have known." How
this will surface on a future hiring arena case is both imaginable
As technology sharing capabilities increase, industries must learn
to take advantage of this new tool against fraud and/or identity
misrepresentation. British records are as well maintained as are US
records. Australian records are available as well as records for
most nations. At this writing we are doing cross-industry searches
in order to ascertain what other countries maintain databases, what
those databases include, how accessible they are and through whom or
what entities, and the reliability levels of the information itself.
In a recent case opened by
, British records were accessed
that allowed the Costa Rican Supreme Court to stop the
fraudulent resolution of a multi-million dollar investment scam
and get in the way of thousands of American investors losing
huge sums of money.
This is a prime example of the good that can happen when
international databases are both accessed and used within the
routine investigation process.
First Milanes proposal included Citi
letter that was fake
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Savings Unlimited investors today are trying to put the finishing
touches on a second conciliation agreement that will keep casino
operator Luis Milanes out of jail. What many do not know is that the
first proposal was suspected of being rife with fraud and identity
Savings Unlimited, operated by Milanes, was a high-interest
investment scheme that collapsed in 2002 when Milanes fled the
The initial proposal is relevant because that and the current
proposal both offered the downtown Hotel Europa to the estimated 500
victims who chose to pursue a case against Milanes and associates.
The second proposal includes a long-term payout to the victims, so
it is dependent on Milanes' good faith. How much Milanes had to do
with constructing the first proposal, if anything, is not known.
What is known is that the proposal identified Pedro Borges Fiol as
executive director of the Savings Unlimited Recovery Fund, and he
invited contact from former investors via ads published in a weekly
newspaper. The proposal presented to the court included a letter
purportedly from Citibank. That letter was a verification that a
company seeking to purchase the Hotel Europa had $10 million in its
A Savings Unlimited investor in the United States asked a public
service firm called Fight Fraud America to check out the proposal.
The company filed a report in February that cast doubt on the
Leslie Kim, who heads Fight Fraud America, said that Citibank denied
the letter came from its Fresh Meadows, New York, office. The bank
said that no one with the name Michael Harripersaud, worked for the
company anywhere in the world, she said. That was the name at the
bottom of the letter. The financial giant launched its own
investigation, said Ms. Kim.
Fight Fraud America also checked out the purported purchaser of the
hotel, DFS International Limited that was being represented by
Incite International Holdings, according to the proposal. Ms. Kim
reported that Incite was a new British corporation with a mail drop
as an address.
The company had no supporting documents filed with the British
Registry, its Web page was new and no one at its listed Las Vegas,
Nevada, location had heard of the firm when an investigator paid a
call, said Ms. Kim. She deemed the firm a shelf corporation.
Eventually Fight Fraud America said it came in contact
with Teresa Collo, identified as the owner of DFS International
Limited. The report said that the woman had no knowledge of Borges
or Incite and did not know where Costa Rica was located.
That proposal is no longer valid, and Borges could not be located to
comment on who set up the purchase offer.
The second proposal is the topic of a meeting of lawyers and
investors today. Milanes wants to put up 11 properties including the
Hotel Europa downtown and will continue to pay $100,000 a month for
eight months with a much larger final payment, according to the
proposal. Two firms seek to be trustees of the arrangement. They
would have to sell the properties and remit the proceeds to Saving
Unlimited victims at a percentage of what they had on deposit with
Milanes. When the company failed, Milanes was believed to have had
$200 million on deposit. The current proposal is estimated to be
worth about $10 million.
The Hotel Europa is a key element of the deal, and the principal
occupants there now is Milanes himself in the penthouse and one of
his casinos on the first floor. A court-appointed appraiser never
got a financial statement from the hotel, so no one among the
investors and court officials knows if the business is making money
or throwing off large losses. Most downtown hotels are facing hard
The U.S. investor who sought help from Fight Fraud America also paid
to have the final report translated into Spanish. Both copies were
turned over to the Judicial Investigating Organization, but it does
not appear that agents followed up on the extensive information in
the report. At the end of April, judicial agents completed a
detailed report on the extensive business interests of Milanes in
other countries, but that document is not available and,
inexplicably, not part of the court file.
The negotiations between investors and their lawyers and Milanes and
his lawyers are not open to the public or press. But some investors
have reported that prosecutors, the majority of lawyers, the public
defender representing some investors and maybe even the judge are
pushing for approval of the second proposal.
Some investors said they wanted to see the deal in writing before
making a decision. If the investors accept the deal, there will be
no trial, and Milanes will not face the possibility of jail.
Prosecutors are reported to be anxious to avoid a trial. Lawyers
probably will be paid off first, if the deal goes through.
Unclear is if anyone has done a title search on the properties that
Milanes is offering as part of the settlement.