Joe enjoyed weight lifting and staying in good shape. So when Brian, a fraternity brother, approached Joe with a business opportunity, the chance to buy into a gym intrigued him. Brian had a degree in sports management and he pointed out that Joe’s business degree, coupled with his interest in fitness, would be exactly what the gym needed. Although Joe’s business education suggested it, he didn’t feel the need to conduct due diligence because after all, Brian was a close friend.
After a year of partnership, Joe started to feel uneasy. Brian refused to invest in newer equipment and Joe worried that memberships would continue a downward trend. Occasionally, Brian was late or didn’t show up at all. Joe worried that Brian’s lack of commitment was causing the business to get a bad name.
Then Joe started to see new guys show up. When he approached them, the men admitted they were not registered members. Then they said that Brian told them it was okay to work out a couple of times before they bought memberships. Joe could never pin Brian down long enough to discuss this. And then one day while Joe gathered dirty towels in the men’s shower room, he overheard two men talking about buying from Brian. Joe walked away thinking, “Buy what from Brian?”
When Joe got a chance to ask about it, Brian explained that the men were probably referring to a decision to buy kettle balls directly from him instead of a manufacturer. But Joe’s suspicion was on high alert. Even if he was selling sports equipment, that should be part of the business, not Brian’s alone on the side. Joe had a wife and a newborn daughter at home. He couldn’t afford to lose the money invested in Brian’s gym.
Joe came to with one statement, that he definitely “smelled a rat.”
With surveillance equipment available for both video and audio recording, the first step was to install cameras in the appropriate locations throughout the gym such as the weightlifting area and the snack/refreshment areas. Locker rooms and office areas were outfitted with listening devices as well.
An investigator posed as a new member and correlated his visits with the times that surveillance showed Brian would be in the facility. Personal electronic surveillance devices were used to record conversation between the investigator and Brian.
Joe also supplied the computer used in the office for a forensic computer analysis. Using sophisticated data mining software and data extraction software, the computer forensic specialist was able to find emails and files that revealed the business Brian was doing – it wasn’t gym memberships and it wasn’t kettle bells, either. He was selling steroids.
Although Joe was suspicious, he hadn’t expected news like this. But with the evidence provided to him, he was able to contact an attorney and come to a settlement with Brian to dissolve the partnership and become sole owner of the gym.
When you need the facts to see the truth, is available.
-Brenda McGinley, CEO, All in Investigations, All in Investigations