Episode 40

Published on:

12th Apr 2023

The Life and Mysterious Death of Laura Kowal; A Romance/Investment Scheme Victim Part 1: The Call

It's a call that no child ever wants to receive; For Kelly Gowe, it would be the call that changed her entire life and that of her family. On August 7, 2020, Kelly was notified by law enforcement that her Mother, Laura Kowal, was believed to be a victim of a romance/investment scheme which would later uncover that $1.5 million had been stolen from Laura by fraudsters.

Laura Kowal disappeared that day and would never be seen alive again. Tragically, two days later, Laura's body was found floating in the Mississippi River. The fraud scheme and her unexplained death will leave listeners with more questions than answers. 

In part one of this two-part podcast, Mike and Mark welcome with a heavy heart, Kelly Gowe, as she shares one of the most tragic stories ever heard concerning the impact that a fraud scheme can have on a victim. Laura's life savings, but most importantly, her life was taken from her family and friends at the early age of 57.  

Kelly will share this heartbreaking story with The Protectors podcast listeners and the public so she can educate others who might be tricked by fraudsters and family members who suspect their loved ones are being targeted. 

In part one of this story, Kelly will share some early warning signs of the scheme until her Mother's disappearance.  

In part two, Kelly will return to the podcast to discuss the mysterious circumstances of her Mother's body being recovered in the Mississippi River and the suspicious circumstances surrounding the case that has law enforcement taking a second look into her death. It may just take one listener to help police uncover what happened to Laura Kowal.   

This devastating incident brings to light the serious risks associated with fraud, in which people can not only lose their money but also their lives. We hope our listeners stand behind Kelly in her fight for answers, justice, and her mission to help others.


Kelly Gowe LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-gowe/

Kelly Gowe Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kelly_gowe/

If you have any information regarding this case, contact the Jo Daviess County Sheriff’s Department at (815) 777-2141.

Kelly Gowe is the daughter of Laura Kowal, a romance scam victim who disappeared from her home in Galena, IL on August 7, 2020. Laura was tragically found dead on August 9, 2020 in The Mississippi River near Canton, MO nearly 4 hours away from her home. While this case is still under investigation, Kelly is now ready to share her mom’s story. Her goal is to provide awareness around this crime in order to help others from falling victim to this tragedy. She is also focused on educating, advocating, and providing hope to other victims and their families. Kelly is extremely hopeful that through advocating work and sharing intimate details of the case, it will one day bring this open investigation to a close, bringing justice to those involved in this horrific crime. 

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About the Podcast

IAFCI Presents... The Protectors
Presented by the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators
From ATM Skimming to Human Trafficking, The Protectors Podcast takes you inside the minds of criminals from around the world with leading experts and the investigators who put them behind bars.  Presented by the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators (IAFCI), and hosted by International President Mark Solomon and Chairman of the Board Michael Carroll. The Protectors is a bi-weekly podcast that aims to educate consumers on the fraud, financial, and cybercriminal activities that are happening every second of every day.  Don’t become the next victim. The host's and guest's opinions are their own and do not reflect those of management, employers, or sponsors. Listeners are encouraged to contact local or state law enforcement if they suspect being a victim of a crime.

About your hosts

Michael Carroll

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Michael Carroll is a retired Postal Inspector after serving 29 years with the US Postal Inspection Service. Mike spent most of his career investigating financial crimes including identity theft, mail theft, credit card fraud, and scams involving the US Mail. Mike is proud to say he has returned to the Inspection Service as a Contractor/Analyst with the Chicago Division. Mike has been a long-time member of the IAFCI and held past positions as Illinois Chapter President, International Secretary, and International Vice President. Mike is currently the International President and co-chair of the Identity Crimes/Scams and Elder Exploitation and Webinar committee. Mike is also an instructor on Financial Crimes Investigations and Elder Exploitation at the Homeland Training Security Institute at College of DuPage. Mike is also a Certified Financial Crimes Investigator (CFCI)


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Mark Solomon is a Vice President for Fraud Investigations at a Financial Institution in Connecticut. Previously, he spent 26 years in law enforcement with 19 years in the Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division, with 11 of those years assigned to a Federal Law Enforcement Task Force working large scale fraud, financial and cybercrime investigations.

Mark is a recognized expert in financial and cyber-crime investigations and has spoken throughout the U.S. and Internationally on skimming, access device fraud, identity theft, elder exploitation and other financially related crimes.

In 2010, Mark was selected as the MasterCard/IAFCI International “Law Enforcement Officer of the Year” recipient. In 2014 Mark was a co-recipient of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Luminary Award for Intelligence Sharing. In 2015, Mark received the Dr. John Clarke Law Enforcement of the Year Award for the Greenwich Police Department and in 2016 was awarded the Financial Crime Investigator of the Year Award from the Henry C. Lee College at the University of New Haven.
In 2011, Mark became the IAFCI CT Chapter President and held the position until 2019. Currently, Mark is the IAFCI International 1st Vice President and is a Certified Cyber Crimes Investigator (CCCI) as well as a certified instructor for the CT Municipal Police Training Council (MPTC) for identity theft and financial crimes Investigations.
Mark is also an adjunct professor with (2) Universities in Connecticut and a volunteer with the AARP’s Fraud Watch Network group.
Mark received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in the Administration of Justice from Salve Regina University in Newport, RI.