Where has the money gone?

Where has the money gone? by Arthur S. Newman

It was a Friday my partner Ben Wise and I were investigating a missing persons case. The complaint was filed by the VP of this huge conglomerate. He says his long time employee and highly respected member of the community has gone missing.

We were following some credible leads which pointed to possible foul play.

When our paths crossed with a young lady, she had been following us for some time Ben and I noticed we picked up the tail a few blocks back.

She was frantic and disturbed, every third word of each sentence that she spewed out of her mouth was accompanied by weeping and sniffles. It appeared to be a serious complaint about her missing inheritance

“Until now I… lived a life… of financial independence… but now my… financial health my…

“Ma’am you need to calm down, catch your breath and speak slow.” I said to her with a calm demeanor.

The last statement and her first complete sentence was, “Can You Help Me.”

My partner introduced us, “My name is Ben Wise and this is Monty Smart, let’s start at the beginning.”

“When did you notice your inheritance was missing?” I inquired.

“It has been disappearing for the last two years, and that’s not all. Someone has been tapping into my savings, it is almost all gone and someone has been dipping into my retirement fund. I do not know where the money has gone to. I had plenty of money,” she replied.

“So let me get this straight, your inheritance is missing, your savings has been pilfered, and your retirement has been tampered with?” Ben recounted what the lady had said.

“Do you have any emergency cash at all? Miss…” I paused.

“Jane Broke is my name and I have just enough to take the bus home,” she replied.

“Are you currently employed, Miss Broke,” asked Ben

“No, not since receiving my inheritance a few years ago,” she spoke with an embarrassed look on her face.

“So you do not have any money to retain our services?” Ben asked.

“No, but I was referred to you by a friend. She said you boys could help me and then once I get my money back. I could compensate you for your time,” she had not calmed down, but her words contained a little less whimpering.

“Yes, we have helped a few people based on those terms, first we need some more information. Do you have a significant other, family or friends that may have had something to do with the missing inheritance?” I had now begun my investigation into her dilemma.

“I am currently single, I have a few friends, and one brother, but he seems to be doing fairly well with his share of the inheritance. My friends work everyday and it appears they are in the same boat that I am in no money left at the end of the billing cycle,” she answered.

“What have your financial institutions said about the missing money?” I have seen this scenario many times over as long as the financial gods get their money, they have little interest in protecting ours, but they have always kept good records.

“They just gave me a copy of my statements and said look them over. They said that there was no foul play, and if I looked through the statements I could see where the money went, they were no help at all,” she started to break down again.

“Where are these statements now, will you allow us to look through them with you?” Ben asked.

“They are at my home, but I doubt you will find anything in them, it seems like the money just evaporated,” the distraught lady was able to muster the hopeless statement.

“Miss Broke, my partner and I are following up on some leads in another case, can we meet you at your home to view the statements and other pertinent documents? They will be a good starting point to ascertain where your inheritance and your savings have gone.” I wished Jane Broke a good afternoon.

Later that evening we met Jane Broke at her home on Extravagant Way.

“How long have you lived here, Miss Broke?” I marveled at the elaborate and mammoth home.

“I bought it shortly after I received my inheritance, maybe about three years ago,” she answered.

“I notice you have a three car garage. Do you own any vehicles?” asked Ben.

“Nothing too fancy, just a BMW, a Mercedes, and a Rolls Royce, but I do not have any money for gas so they just sit in the garage collecting dust, besides the taxes on those vehicles are outrageous,” Jane Broke answered while looking down at the floor.

We stood in the massive great room, and marveled at the hundred and twenty-five inch tv perched over the see-through glass fire place. My mind was calculating the expense of the tv and furnishings in this room alone.

“I must compliment you on your choice of furniture. Your home is immaculate and very clean,” Ben was speaking with compliments but he was really investigating her expensive taste.

“Yes, I have furnished the home with nothing but the best brands, and the maid does an excellent job in keeping it up. Although I will have to let her go soon. I would offer you boys a drink, but I am afraid the supplies are low. I have had to cut back on some of the essentials in life in order to live from week to week,” Jane spoke apologetically.

“That’s really quite ok Ma’am, besides we perform our jobs best when we are able to think clearly,” I spoke in a way to comfort her.

“Now where are those statements at? I am ready to unfold this mystery,” Ben was becoming impatient.

“They are in my office, just pass the library down the hall, follow me.” As she walked down the hall like a runway model, I could not help but notice she dressed the part also.

The library was a huge room that looked like it could take up its own city block. It seemed like we walked forever to get to the office. The size of the home rivaled a small hotel.

When we reached the office, we could not help but to notice her collection of electronic gadgetry that was displayed throughout the room like an electronic store that was going out of business. There where several models of smartphones and a couple of laptops. I counted three high end printers on the floor. There were three computers, two were not connected, no wires no peripherals. The third one had wires leading to a huge monitor, and right beside it was a pile of papers.

She began digging into the pile of papers, searching for the statements.

Ben was sifting through billing statements, receipts and shipping invoices that could use some type of filing system. The evidence had been accumulating for quite some time.

“Do you have electronic copies of these receipts and invoice’s backed up on your computer?” I asked.

“Yes, I make most of my purchases online and have the items shipped. So, each purchase is saved somewhere on the computer.” Jane answered.

“Do you have an accountant that handles your finances and oversee your banking accounts?” Ben asked.

“No, I fired him. His advice was so restrictive and calculating. If I had listened to him I would never have been able to spend my money. I had to draw the line somewhere, besides I saved a lot of money by not having to pay his fees. Oh, here is the statements from the bank.” She handed me the crucial documents.

As my eyes scanned the documents there were no deposits in the deposit column but there was plenty of transactions in the withdrawal column. The balance column spiraled downward. The clues had added up and come to a crescendo with these documents.

The savings account and the IRA statements did not look any better.

“Jane, it would appear that we have found the culprits. Do the names, Valentino, Versace, Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, Jean Patou, Annick Goutal Eau d’ Hadrien, Clive Christian, Chanel mean anything to you?” I asked.

“Why yes. They are my suppliers. I have quite a few business dealings with them, a girl has to look and smell good, right boys?” She seemed to perk up with that statement.

“It looks like you frequent some really expensive restaurants, also it looks as though you like to travel as well. I would say your main culprit is Oscar Spendwilde.” We had now sniffed out the swine that had hijacked her inheritance and savings and was now taken her for the retirement.

“Nothing but the best, but I do not know this Spendwilde fella,” she spoke with a puzzled look on her face.

“The bad news, we have found Oscar Spendwilde to be quite elusive, in all our years we have never caught this culprit. He is a smooth and cunning foe. He is like a thief in the night. There is no safe made to keep him out, no burglar alarm that can survey his moves, no bank that can stop him, and he has never spent the night in police custody. In fact, he has never been apprehended.” I spoke with a defeated countenance.

“The good news, we have a friend who can salvage some of your inheritance and savings and get you back on the road to financial health and maybe with a few life style changes, financial freedom once again,” Ben spoke assuredly.

“What’s the name, gentlemen?” Jane Broke asked, while smiling seductively.

Ben and I spoke at the same time, “Nick Liquidator.”

______

A year later I looked up Jane Broke at her new address on Modest Lane, it seemed she and Nick Liquidator had quite the time organizing and cleaning up her lifestyle and financial health, she had learned some new tricks. Nick had related to me that Oscar Spendwilde had exited her life shortly after their first rendezvous.

Oh and that missing persons case we where working on, turns out the person wasn’t missing after all, he was finally able to fire his boss after many years of being wise and money smart. Finn and his wife Nancy Freeman took an indefinite vacation to early retirement and are enjoying their life of financial freedom.

All names have been change to protect the financially free.

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