Monthly Archive for June, 2011

Divorce files are a good source for information

Did you know that files created during a divorce proceeding are public information? That’s right, all the dirty secrets couples hurl at one another when they go through a divorce can be viewed by anyone.

If you know the man you are dating has gone through a divorce and you’d like to do some checking, first find out where the divorce took place. Most divorces are handled at the county level so you’ll need to know not only what state the divorce happened in, but the county as well. The files from the case are kept at the probate court (in most cases) and all you need to do is walk in with a name (the more information you have, the better, like the date of the divorce and wife’s name) and request the file. It’s yours to view and copy if you’d like.

There may be some restrictions on viewing, for example, I was not allowed to open certain envelopes in the file that contained financial information, but there was plenty of dirt to be had even without those documents.

Remarkably, social security numbers are often present in the documents. It’s not a bad idea to copy down your man’s social security number. If you want to do a more thorough check on the guy, and you’re willing to spend a little money, a private investigator can run several reports using the social security number. Their reports provide a history of addresses, assets owned by the individual including homes, cars and boats, names of relatives, and individuals living nearby. You may also receive a criminal history if it exists.

I viewed a divorce file after I’d broken up with the man, because I was curious. For three years I had heard his side of the story and he made his ex sound like a crazy woman. But after reviewing the file, I can tell you that they both were odd and each contributed to the demise of the relationship in equal fashion.

Most recently I have been researching an aunt (long ago deceased) who led a very secretive life with huge gaps missing when her family knew nothing of her whereabouts. One of the primary sources of information was her divorce file. I did not know exactly where to look for it, but through some leads, I finally found it in Ely, Nevada.

The file, dated 1948, was over 200 pages. It answered many questions her family had about her life in the 40s. The most interesting part of her divorce file was the exhibits. Her husband accused her of being an unfit mother because she had affairs. To prove that, he submitted dozens of love letters she received (through an accomplice who testified for the husband) from a man in another state. It was incredible to read these letters, written over 60 years ago, and to learn this new information. Without the divorce file, we never would have known what really happened.

GPS data in photos can help uncover romantic deception

We all know that lying on the Internet is prevalent. Anyone who’s tried on-line dating knows that people aren’t always who, and what, they claim to be. I’ve heard lots of stories – and experienced a few examples myself – of individuals who are much older, much heavier, and much less educated than their profiles portray.

When that deception pours over into everyday living inside a romantic relationship, then it’s a real issue. There is a fine line between embellishing on a profile to make oneself more attractive, and out right lying about every aspect of one’s life. As Dr. Caldwell, author of Romantic Deception: The Six Signs He’s Lying defines it, it is the “unrestrained misrepresentation of significant facts in the context of a intimate relationship.” In other words, someone who truly is an impostor.

Everyday I look for new ways to help victims uncover the truth about the romantic liars in their lives. Did you know that you can now determine exactly where a photograph was taken? There is a new technology built into all GPS enabled cameras and Smartphones that will give you the exact location, within 15 feet, of where the photo was snapped.

This technology can be very useful in determining whether your romantic partner is telling the truth – or not. To learn more, watch the video here.



Proceed with caution when hiring a private investigator

Much of what I needed to know about my ex I was able to dig up on my own through online databases, but there was one nagging piece that I needed an answer to. My ex told me he had never been married. The evidence supported that. I met many of his friends and his entire family. No one indicated that he’d been married before. We had planned to live together and he had brought several of his possessions to my home. But when he moved these items out the day the relationship ended, he left behind several pieces that raised suspicion.

These items were household goods, new, and still in the original boxes. He told me that he’d received one or more of the items as awards from golf tournaments. But these were household goods, not typical golf incentives: a cappuccino machine, hand mixer, juicer, dishes, glassware, about ten items in total. They looked a lot like wedding or shower gifts. I wondered if he had lied about his marital history. I had caught him in many lies about his financial situation so I wondered if this was just one more area he’d been untruthful about.

So I asked a local PI to conduct a background check just to be sure. Weeks passed and my curiosity grew. One day I received an email from the PI asking me to call him regarding the investigation. Our conversation was shrouded in mystery. He told me he could not tell me everything he had found out, or how he had found the information, but he declared – in no uncertain terms – that my ex was currently married! I can’t tell you what a shock that was to hear. We had ended the relationship just two months prior so I knew that the marriage was not a recent one. My mind raced with how he could possibly have hid a current marriage. I asked the PI for details but he refused to tell me more.

My mind reeled and my heart sank at the thought of this level of deception. I thought perhaps there had been a previous, brief marriage, but never did I imagine a current marriage. It took me about 24 hours to gain my composure and to put into action my own search for the truth. I emailed an associate of the PI who was involved in the initial search. I was able to pry a “possible” first name and age of the “wife” from the associate who relayed what he could remember. My next stop was the Registry of Vital Records where I met a sweet and helpful employee who performed a search of the marriage records for me. No marriage record turned up for the ex.

I spent innumerable hours online searching the name I was given. Nothing turned up that linked the guy to a potential wife. It took some time, and much angst, but I finally began to realize that the person the PI so adamantly claimed was his wife, was in fact his sister. This fact was later confirmed through another PI who, upon hearing my story, offered to conduct a database search for me.

The moral of this post is: Take every nugget you receive with a grain of salt. Not all information you, or a private investigator, pulls from a database is reliable. The PI who performed the initial search could have saved me much pain simply by qualifying his investigative results. Apparently he found a woman’s name linked to the address the ex currently resided at (his parents’ home). The woman’s age was around his age. The PI made a huge leap by assuming that it was a wife and not another relative.

Databases are subject to human error upon inputting data. Reports available on the Web from sources like and, among others, offer very basic information and cost money to view. Much of the information they provide is available for free if you know where to look for it. The information on these reports is also not always current and in many cases inaccurate or unavailable. It cannot be relied upon. Beware that what they offer may not be available in your state. For example, offers a “Comprehensive Background Check” for $39.95 that includes marriage and divorce records. What you don’t see is that in Massachusetts, marriage records are not available online, so you will not receive any marital information on someone you check in the state of Massachusetts (and numerous other states).

I also have been told that offers to provide a telephone number for $2.95. What they don’t tell you is that the number may not be for the individual you are seeking. It could be any individual by the same name in that state. They also have a no refund policy. Buyer beware.

Bottom line: Hire a reputable private investigator (see links to recommended investigators in my blogroll). Investigate the investigator. Make sure he or she has credentials and is licensed if licensing is required in your state. Check references as well. Ask to see certified copies of marriage licenses before believing that the individual you are checking is truly married. Take information obtained from databases with a bit of skepticism. deemed a scam

If you’ve been searching for information on someone via the Internet, you’ve no doubt run into many, many listings for that appear to have information about the person you are looking for. I’ve seen it over and over again in my searches and today I decided to check it out. I was ready to sign up, using fake information just as a test, and soon realized that my “free” account wouldn’t go through without accepting their terms. I decided to read on.

The terms spell out that there will be credit card charges. That was a red flag so I quickly cancelled out and did a Google search for “MyLife scam.” There were lots of hits. Apparently MyLife is the new version of, a site I know all too well.

Last year while planning a high school reunion, I signed up for’s Gold Membership. That was a mistake. My next credit card statement included fraudulent charges for a credit monitoring service that I’d never heard of. Nor had I ever received any information or confirmation that I’d been enrolled.

I immediately contacted and was told that I had indeed selected the service. Knowing that I had not, I promptly contacted my credit card company and had the charge removed. Apparently is operating the same scam and should be avoided.

There are two services for finding information about people that I can recommend. I have used both and without any issues. Both are useful tools. They do not always return the information I’d like or need, and the addresses are sometimes not current, but like I said, they are a tools in my arsenal that do help from time to time.

To learn more about the scam, click here.