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How A Risk Consultant Foiled An Extortion Racket

December 22, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

Underneath the thriving economies and gorgeous vacation spots, Asia can be a pretty horrible corner of the world. This is why businesses who don’t establish contingency plans for an emerging market are just inviting trouble. A level-headed approach is getting a risk consultant aboard to troubleshoot day-to-day headaches. But sometimes, having a trained security specialist at hand is the best way to save a person’s life. Professionals in leadership roles are always juicy targets for shady characters.

For John Walker, a US Air Force veteran and licensed risk consultant, cracking a bizarre case involving a VIP led him a down a strange, strange rabbit hole.

When hired to investigate a suspected social media scammer, John became acquainted with a slippery mastermind whom he believed led a catfishing syndicate that targeted vulnerable members of wealthy families. At first, the mastermind played coy. They weren’t running a charade and the money squeezed from one victim was to help those in need. Besides, the victim was just trying to help.

But John persisted. A simple background check revealed the “syndicate” was a trans-national scam spread over the Asia-Pacific. Its members were found in Japan, the Philippines, and the US. John managed to track the primary suspect orchestrating the scam. When he finally met the suspect, in circumstances that were 100% above board, he wore down the excuses and found out the truth.

Apparently, the victim had sent money to a”friend” with brain cancer. Other sums were just financial support. But the shocker was the suspect finally admitted that the “friends” never existed. In fact, they were all the same person. Over a period of time the suspect managed to impersonate individuals from both genders and fabricated a hospital death. The manipulative savvy involved was breathtaking, since the entire scam took place on social media and was never found out until the victim’s family intervened.

This episode is just one of many cases where naive and vulnerable individuals fall prey to social media scams perpetrated by savvy confience artists. If it can happen to the hapless, it can happen to the rich and powerful too. Large organizations aren’t immune either and face their own set of white collar crimes. Each of these cases aren’t always up to lawyers and managers to crack. More often than not, a risk consultant with either a law enforcement or legal background is better fit for the job.

John Walker currently leads Adsum Risk Consulting (ARC), a boutique security practice with decades of experience in Asia. For private sector clients looking to outsource sensitive activities to a trusted firm, ARC is qualified for background checks and employee screening; due-diligence on M&A and potential fraud cases; vendor integrity assessments; investigations for fraud, theft, and IP infringement; business continuity and recovery planning. If your organization needs a risk consultant ARC can be reached here or email them at

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