Imagine applying best-in-class methodologies of investigative journalism to your business, government, or political challenge – but discreetly.
That’s what Vander Weele Group Investigative Intelligence provides. We equip you with essential information to make high-stakes decisions wisely.
We begin with online research and, when necessary, take the next step by culling through off-line public records or conducting interviews. We equip you with facts derived from research of public, and often obscure, sources. We uncover legal, financial, reputational, and operational risks that threaten your business relationships. Our online investigative expertise assists litigators in complex disputes, organizations in identifying red flags of high-profile vendors, and companies embarking upon major business transactions – before – the full due diligence team is engaged.
A company claimed its revenues grew from $19.4 million to $155 million in three years. Using open source analysis, VWG found a revolving door of executives, unexecuted initiatives, disputes with customers, disputes with vendors, and nearly 80 civil actions—most of which were breach of contract—against the principals. VWG expressed skepticism that a company with such a rocky history and operational problems could have achieved its stated revenue growth. After the company was later shut down for fraud, its principals were convicted in a scheme to inflate revenues by $250 million to obtain hundreds of millions of investment dollars. Its liabilities totaled $800 million. Our client escaped the losses.
A client was about to invest $150,000 into an entity that promised to raise tens of millions in capital. Our investigation detected inconsistencies in open source records, noting that the entity incorporated with the stated purpose of providing training and education based on the teachings of a controversial overseas cult leader who claimed divine powers. In fact, the leader was accused of sexually molesting boys and his organization was accused of trading in kidney parts. Former followers had launched an organization to foster healing among ex-converts, which included alleged child sexual abuse victims who launched an online discussion group.
A former employee of a manufacturer was rumored to be pitching the company’s signature patented product to a national chain. Using open source data analysis, VWG documented what amounted to a confession of the scheme online when the former employee advertised for new employees, stating she and a colleague started the company to “take advantage of opportunities unrealized by our former employer.”
A customer of an art gallery stole more than $100,000 of artwork. With only a name and no permanent address, VWG used open source analysis to locate her family in a country home fueled only by a wood burning stove.
A client engaging an individual for a major sales initiative with a South American government requested background information. Within two days, our team informed the client the individual had been convicted of a 22-year-old military crime in which he disposed of five bodies out of a helicopter during the regime of a notorious dictator. Our research showed that his company was also embroiled in allegations of steering bids, a factor critical in our client’s consideration whether to continue the relationship.
VWG has conducted dozens of open source analyses of small businesses to detect certification and pass-through fraud. For example, one small business was described online as a division of another company that our research indicated received nearly $78.2 million in U.S. defense contracts from 2000 to 2009. Another company was listed as woman-owned, but its address was that of the headquarters of a $114 million company. The small business owner shared a last name with that of an executive at the larger company, which reported the smaller entity as a “sister company.”
On behalf of the Bureau of Indian Education, VWG performed extensive research into best practices in safety/security approaches and substance abuse prevention. The goal was to ensure that safety and security programming is comprehensive and aligned with federal, state laws, regulations, and other requirements.
The Vander Weele Group identifies the sources of the information it reports. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of online information or be responsible for errors in online documents or inaccessibility of public documents that should be – but are not – in the public domain. Furthermore, because many court systems do not keep their records online, there is no central clearinghouse for all criminal and court records. Therefore, no investigative company, including ours, can guarantee the comprehensiveness of criminal background or court checks. However, we diligently work to identify as many court records as possible through our fine-tuned methodologies, using multiple proprietary databases. Finally, the Internet contains many millions of records, but our searches are constrained by time and budgets. Although we are skilled in efficiently finding red flags among many thousands of online “hits” relating to a subject, we cannot guarantee that all adverse findings will be found. We appreciate your understanding.