Wednesday, May 3, 2017




Thursday, May 3, 2017


Hunting grifters and con men is a (mostly) thankless and quixotic art, supplanted by low probabilities of justice and an even lesser chance of financial reward.  Luckily, there are some very sharp investigators in the field who see the Con Problem as less of a risky paycheck, and more of a finite puzzle, a Rubik's cube with unaligned colors waiting to be turned.

Earlier this year, I attended a convention in Las Vegas with a few colleagues.  One recounted a story in which his business was hustled for roughly $6,000.  What immediately caught my interest was the description of this thief's behavior.  Further intriguing was my cursory Internet search, which was suspiciously devoid of anything useful.   There were no pictures of him online, the names, numbers and emails led to a series of dead ends.  It didn't take long to realize the scenario at hand.

The following is a true account of a professional grifter in Southern California.

Warm Leads.

Everything about my friend's recollection of the criminal seemed unique, and matched the stories given by other victims: 6'2, +/- 300 pound Samoan with a buzzed Mohawk, goatee, and "uniquely colored eyes".  He said his name was Keiko Vaimaona, aka Komodo Tamakoa, aka Keiko Tsukasa, a mixed-race Bodyguard-To-The-Stars with vast connections in Hollywood and professional sports.   He also claimed to run a concierge service in Vegas and CA, catering mainly to the high-end, black-card, private jet demographic.  He was said to be chatty, attentive, and very charismatic.   He showed many a photo of an extravagant home's gaping foyer, with a colorful Samoan scarf in the foreground draped casually over a winding, ornate banister.   His "clientele" list was a jaw-dropping trove of stars and athletes:

Jeff Winslow of Jet AMG 
Roger Goodell NFL Commisioner
Peter T. Paul Headlands Group
Mark Cuban Dallas Mavericks
Jerry Jones Dallas Cowboys
Bob Kraft New England Patriots
Dr.Jerry Buss Family Los Angeles Lakers
Ron Rivera Head Coach Carolina Panthers
Senator Manny Pacquiao
Dale Earnhardt Jr, Junior Motorsports
Rick Hendrick Hendrick Motorsports
Mark Mastrov Sacramento Kings, New Evolutions 
Joe Gibbs Racing
Tony Stewart Racing SHR
Gene Haase Racing SHR Indy
Jack Rousch Racing Ford Motor sports
Jeff Gordon Hendricks Motorsports
Jimmie Johnson Hendricks Motorsports 
Richard Petty Motorsports 
Brian France CEO NASCAR Motorsports

I set out in late March, starting with only the lead of a strip mall he was known to frequent in Carlsbad, CA.  I chatted with the restaurant manager, who knew right away who I was referring to.  A planned day of one informal interview multiplied into no less than 10 different establishments and 15 different victims of the same person.   All the victims were generally despondent, some were angry, some just curious to see what the truth was.  All of them wanted some form of recourse.  

He was slick enough to dodge getting his photo taken, and to have his true identity revealed.   His social media pages were mostly stock images pulled from the Internet.  As luck would have it, there was one known picture of his face, and a possible Internet handle/nickname.  These were the first few key puzzle pieces I needed to get some forward progress rolling on this case.


Nom de Guerre.

The next task was putting a real name to the face, a hugely critical step in hunting grifters. To have their true identity exposed is a fate worse than death, as their entire livelihood is based on deception.  

I started by researching Samoan islander culture, which is complex and culturally rich in it's own sense.  I then traced the Vaimaona family's general migration timeline to the U.S., locating a man in L.A. with a strikingly similar profile to that offered by Keiko, named Tai Vaimaona.  Tai Vaimaona is a former narcotics officer with LAPD, and actual Bodyguard-to-the-Stars.  He was not pleased to hear how his last name and resumé had basically been plagiarized.   Unfortunately, this turned out to be a dead end.  Luckily, a few alert victims had snapped pictures of his plates, which proved to be the tipping point in cracking this case wide open.

A license plate search on Keiko's 3 known vehicles came back with 5 different people, only one sounding anything vaguely resembling a Pacific Islander surname: Tammy Faagata.  I ran an open-source search, locating a Facebook page with several clues, side notes in red:

This was a strong indicator that I was on the right path, and the subsequent Google search nearly knocked me out of my chair.  A side-by side mugshot with the subject of interest:



I contacted the Carlsbad Police Department, Sonoma Sheriff, Sonoma Agricultural Crimes Unit, as well as local news stations in both Sonoma and San Diego.  Most were uninterested, and the case was brushed aside, considered a "civil" matter.  Check the caption above, there is nothing civil about it.  This is a career criminal working freely in SoCal, leaving customers and businesses disenfranchised.

In a rough estimate of damage done, I believe Averbuck may have conned at least 500-1000 people in California, at both ends of the state, which would have netted  +/- $75-100,000 over a lifetime of crime.  This estimate does not factor in identity theft, which I believe has also occurred on a large scale.  I feel it is a civic duty to keep consumers informed of situations like this.  If you have had a similar encounter with Averbuck, contact law enforcement immediately.  


Prevention of fraud-based crime is possible through consistent situational awareness.  Here are some common traits of con artist behavior to help you key in on a deal that doesn't feel right.

-Excessively charismatic/ high emotional intelligence.
-Digital footprint will exist, but will have many inconsistencies. 
-Lack of Written Contracts/ "Handshake" deals (i.e. Paypal).
-Pre-loaded excuse for not appearing in your photos (or social media).
-Closed off about family.  Details may include facts, but will be vague.
-Paranoid behavior.  You aren't the first person they've conned.  
-Erratic behavior.  Unusual sleep/health patterns.
-Mentions of a storage unit.  

Momentum is a small detective agency, and we are fiercely protective of good business practices and consumer treatment, especially Veteran Owned Small Businesses.  If you suspect fraud of this nature has occurred, contact us

Further Reading.

Legal disclaimer:  It should be stressed that indictments and arrests are only reflective of charges and are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial, at which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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