President & CEO
Karen DeBoer has been in the investigation business for over 30 years. In 1988 she founded PhotoFax, Inc., a small private detective agency in Elgin, Illinois. With only one run down van and a second hand VHS camera, Karen managed to grow PhotoFax, Inc. into the nationally recognized leader in the surveillance and investigations business that it is today. With coverage in 48 states, PhotoFax, Inc. provides our customers with the very best in the way of surveillance results. Using a complex metric to measure performance, PhotoFax is not only able to provide the very best in surveillance results, we are able to prove it to our clients. PhotoFax believes in full transparency. Not only do we share our performance results with our clients, we also encourage them to view their cases in real time while using our USV, the most advanced unmanned surveillance system in the country.
As a woman owned business, PhotoFax, Inc. believes in fostering a family culture in partnership with their highly valued employees. “If you treat people right, with decency and respect, you will find that they will work hard and more importantly will be loyal, as they share your vision to build your business.”
Karen DeBoer holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Northern Illinois University. She currently holds private detective licenses in 36 states.
Chief Operating Officer
Chris oversees the daily operations of the business and ensures the quality of each manned and unmanned surveillance investigation.
Chris believes that preparation, integrity, transparency and quality control are the four cornerstones to a quality private investigation. Chris has helped PhotoFax develop a complex metric for measuring investigative performance and a series of quality control protocols to ensure that Photo Fax clients know that they will receive the highest quality investigations and customer service in the industry. Chris believes in the idea of full transparency by providing clients with their statistics whenever asked to do so. Chris is a trained /Iicensed /private investigator with over 26 years of experience in the business. Chris began his career with PhotoFax in 1992 as a field investigator. In 1995 Chris was promoted to case manager where he directly supervised a team of private investigators. Chris was eventually promoted to Vice President in 2005 and recently to his current position of Chief Operating Officer.
Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Northern Illinois University and is an active member of the ACFE.
Chief Strategy Officer
John understands that if you’re not consistently improving your product, then you’re already losing to the competition. Serving as the Chief Strategy Officer at PhotoFax, Inc., John is constantly looking for ways to advance the technology within PhotoFax so we can continue to outperform other surveillance vendors. He began his career with PhotoFax in 2010, and immediately started developing what is now known as the Unmanned Surveillance Vehicle (U.S.V.). At the time, remote surveillance was just an idea, but the U.S.V. quickly became the model of what all other investigation firms tried to duplicate. In addition, John was instrumental in developing PhotoFax Live, which is the first program in the industry that allows clients to view their cases in real time.
He also has spent a great deal of time perfecting an investigator’s greatest weapon; the surveillance vehicle. PhotoFax is the only national vendor that provides its investigators with company owned surveillance vehicles. His ultimate goal is to help PhotoFax continue its long standing tradition of being the industry leaders in technology and quality.
Chief Financial Officer
Melissa has worked for PhotoFax for 23 years. During her 23 years she has witnessed PhotoFax grow and advance to become the leader in technologically innovative surveillance and investigations. She strives for excellence and is committed to the ongoing growth and success of PhotoFax.
Melissa has a Bachelor of Science degree from SIU Carbondale and majored in Business Administration.
Director of Training
Jeff Elkins is the Director of Training for PhotoFax, Inc. and is responsible for the training and development of all incoming agents. Jeff served in the Army Reserves for 8 years and has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Governor’s State University. His extensive 26 year career of performing thousands of days of surveillance makes him a specialist in this area. Not only has he been doing surveillance for 26 years, all of those 26 years have been with PhotoFax. His knowledge of the industry has helped perfect the PhotoFax training program to ensure each agent is ready to perform surveillance up to the PhotoFax standard. His dedication and hands on approach to training is key to PhotoFax’s success.
Jeff’s job is not done once the agents leave training. He continues to mentor them and monitor their progress for quality control measures. He is proud of the company he helped build and is amazed at how far the technology has come since the beginning. The days of paper maps and pay phones are long gone!
Director of Unmanned Surveillance Operations
As the director of the unmanned surveillance department at PhotoFax, Ming oversees the most unique and technologically advanced surveillance system in the industry. For the past five years, Ming’s department has produced surveillance results that simply cannot be matched. With a 98% ratio of cases where meaningful film is obtained and an average of over 60 minutes of film per case. Ming’s department has shattered industry standards using any performance metric.
Ming has been working in the insurance industry for over a decade, with the last six years on the vendor side at PhotoFax. His background on both sides of the industry allows him to bridge his knowledge to more effectively investigate fraud. The continued innovations within his unmanned surveillance operation has made PhotoFax the premier vendor for Unmanned Surveillance.
Julie started her career at PhotoFax in December 2008 as a part time employee taking assignments over the phone. Since that time, Julie has learned the ropes in many different areas of the company and began assisting the sales team in 2016. Her current role as Sales Coordinator allows her the opportunity to help guide the sales team with her positive energy and spirit. Julie always strives for perfection and is the proud multiple recipient of the coveted Pursuit of Excellence award. Julie has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northern Illinois University.
Director of Recruiting
John Todaro is the Director of Recruiting for PhotoFax, Inc. For over 10 years, John has had sole autonomy over the recruitment and onboarding of all field and background investigators. John began his career with PhotoFax, Inc. in October of 2001 as a field investigator conducting video surveillance on suspected insurance fraud cases.
After a few years he was promoted to case manager running a team of field agents. After managing cases and performing other duties at PhotoFax, Inc., John was promoted to Director of Recruiting where he diligently finds the very best investigators to fulfill our clients’ needs with the integrity and quality they expect and deserve.
In John’s seventeen years in the insurance fraud industry he has performed thousands of hours of surveillance, background investigations, case management, and recruiting to make his claim of expertise in this industry a modest one.
John has a degree in history from Northern Illinois University where he attended on a full scholarship for forensics (speech team). He is a two-time collegiate national speech champion and the 2001 Illinois state champion in the category of After Dinner Speaking.
Director of Background Investigations
After graduating from Penn State University, Joe Brady decided to forego his pursuit of law school to take a chance as a private investigator. Joe took his first plane ride to Chicago 8 years ago, where he began his career with PhotoFax. He graduated from Jeff Elkins’ intensive training course and returned east, where he worked as a surveillance investigator from Pennsylvania down through Alabama. He was soon promoted to case manager, where he oversaw a crew of agents working in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia. Three years later, Joe was promoted to work within the PhotoFax headquarters with our Chief Operating Officer to oversee the case management staff. Ever since, he has become involved in all parts of the company, including management of our Background Department, development of our SIU Department, personal handling of new/specialty account operations and contributions to the company culture.
In his tenure with PhotoFax, Joe has received the Case Manager of the Year award consecutively and the prestigious Pursuit of Excellence award. The Background Department has also continued to develop into the supreme in-house investigative division in the industry and utilizes its proprietary approach to earn its position in a class all by itself. Within the last two years, Joe obtained Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) certification in attempt to further his personal development. He has a passion for family, efficiency and maximization of potential.
Nicole Lange is the production department manager of PhotoFax, Inc. and oversees company invoicing, production levels, assignment turnaround, office recruiting, and staff performance. Nicole joined the company in 2012 as a member of the production department and has advanced to her current position. She has a passion for helping and teaching others on the team and strives to continually improve the company’s customer service experience by monitoring product quality and procedures. Nicole graduated from Columbia University and obtained a Bachelor of Arts.
Video Production Manager
Scott was first hired by PhotoFax, in November 2001, as a part-time and only employee to handle all the video duplication duties. Not only has the company grown since then, with the video department now employing six full-time staff members that Scott manages, technology has also advanced over the years. All video duplication was initially on VHS tapes, to switched over to DVDs. Scott helped setup and manage a cloud portal for online video, to our latest, all in one case management system, which has an accompanying mobile app.
As video quality continues to get better, with 4k becoming more available, and technology becoming more mobile, Scott will continue to stay on the cutting edge to make sure our customers are provided videos in the most convenient and time sensitive manner.