Since the Troubleshooter Judd McIlvain is always leading the battle in exposing Scams and Rip-offs on TV or radio it is unusual that a crook would use the Troubleshooter name and image to run a blackmail operation. However, that’s exactly what one Texas crook did in Houston.
Judd had a segment on Houston’s KHOU TV similar to the one he had on KCBS-2 in Los Angeles where he would expose scams and consumer rip offs. In Texas the Segment was called the McIlvain Files, in LA it is called the Troubleshooter. In Houston like in LA Judd has exposed rat invested slum apartment buildings and the city has forced the owners to clean them up or close them down.
Here is how this crook (con artist) operated. He would go to a landlord of slum apartments and tell him that if he did not pay him $400 a month he would expose the slum apartment on the TV news. The crook claimed to be Judd’s Chief Investigator and would have Judd expose the slum landlord in a TV news segment and the city health department would close down his apartment units for code violations. Apparently it was a working scam that was making the crook money.
The con artist would return to the apartment owners each month and say: “well you were not exposed in the McIlvain Files Segment on TV this month because you paid off, now pay me $400 again and I will see to it that you will not be exposed next month.
He told the landlord-owners as Judd’s Chief Investigator he split the money with Judd 60/40%. This crook even gave the owners a business card that said: McIlvain Files, CBS TV News, and an office phone number.
Judd does not know how long this scam was going on in Houston before this con artist pushed too hard and wanted to raise his monthly blackmail charges. Greed normally is the downfall of 80% of criminals. This conman who called himself David Brown also took the Greed tumble to jail. Here is how Judd tells the rest of the story.
One morning at KHOU TV, CBS-11, I was listening to my phone messages and there was one man who was so angry that it was hard to understand what he was talking about. He said he was not going to pay me any more money and that I could go to Hell and he was going to report me to the authorities for fraud. That got my attention. So I called him back. He was a landlord of an old apartment building in East Houston. He finally calmed down and explained the total blackmail scheme that he thought I was running. He said of course I thought it was you because each time I paid your Chief Investigator $400 you did not do a story on my apartment building.
I explained that I did not have a Chief Investigator named David Brown, and I didn’t even have a Chief Investigator. I did all my own investigations with my interns. I asked how he got in touch with Mr. Brown and he told me he would call my office in downtown Houston. I told him I did not have an office in downtown Houston. I asked where he got the phone number for my “so called downtown office?” He said it was on the business card that Mr. Brown gave him. So I called the number and it answered: “McIlvain Files Investigations, Chief Investigator David Brown speaking. I was stunned. I was speaking to my downtown office and my Chief Investigator and I didn’t have either one. For a moment I was at a loss of words, and if you know me that is unusual. Then I said could I speak to Judd McIlvain. He said I was out investigating a scam and would not be back today. Well this con artist was partly right for a change, I was on an investigation into who in the Heck this was running a blackmail operation out of a phony office using my name and TV segment. I had my producer call the same number to make sure I was not in the land of make-believe. It was real, a total blackmail fraud being conducted with my name.
I contacted some HPD detectives I knew and we set up a sting operation. We traced the number to a backroom of a men’s formal tuxedo rental store. We had the landlord call the “so called Chief Investigator Mr. Brown” and talked to him about the increase in the blackmail payment. As he talked to the con artist, detectives and I walked into the backroom of the tuxedo store and caught Mr. Brown (not his real name) talking to the landlord on the phone. I took the phone from him and thanked the landlord for his help in catching this crook. Mr. Brown said to me, “you can’t do that I work for Judd McIlvain of the McIlvain Files on CBS TV,” and I said, “yes I can I am the real Judd McIlvain and you are going to jail.” His face dropped to his chin. The cops took him away. By the way the owner of the Tuxedo rental store had no idea of what was going on in his backroom on the phone. This is not the first time someone has set up a fraud using my name and my TV segment.
Someone posing as me sent letters on what appeared to be KHOU TV CBS stationary. It had a letterhead that read “McIlvain Files Investigations, KHOU TV CBS Houston.” The letter was sent to a storeowner at the Houston Galleria Mall and informed him that I knew about his illegal trafficking and the use of the store as a front for illegal operations. Of course I knew nothing of the two letters sent to this store that was an upscale gift shop. The owners of the shop never called me.
The scammers sent another letter posing as me to the mall security saying that the shop was a front for illegal operations. The letters never said what the illegal operations were.
The mall security called me at the station and asked what the illegal operation was and when I was going to do a TV investigative report on it. I explained I had no idea what they were talking about. They showed me the letter on so called KHOU CBS stationary they had received. There was my signature as big as life on the letter. But it was not even close to my real signature, plus they misspelled my last name. (Not too bright!) The storeowner said he did not know who would do this and the mall security did not have a clue. So we waited to see if there was any other action taken. There was none. The gift shop went out of business the next year. I still don’t understand how this scam was supposed to work. No money was paid to anyone, and the shop owner was not forced to move. But someone went to a lot of trouble forging the stationary and my signature. If a competitor was trying to get the mall to kick out the storeowner why didn’t they say what illegal activity was supposed to be gone on in the store. What do you think, what was this con artist trying to do?
Or, perhaps this is exactly what the con artists had planned. He knew what the illegal operations were, and by bringing me and Mall security into the mix the store owner had to stop his illegal operations. The store only lasted about a year after this scam.
Perhaps I have missed something obvious?