By Anthony M. Davis
About a week ago I received an email from a woman I know in the Pacific Northwest. Last year I interviewed her for my upcoming book on Human Trafficking. I trust her intuition since she knows about trafficking...she was a trafficking victim for five years. In her email she asked me what I thought of a man named Bill Hillar. According to the email, some believe he is a fraud. I explained that I hadn't heard of him but would certainly look into it. It didn't take too long to find this man has a questionable history. Fortunately, my work was made easier by some who had already taken up the mission to discover who he really is.
Bill Hillar claims he is retired U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel. He also claims the movie, "Taken" is based upon his own life story when his daughter was kidnapped, forced into trafficking and then murdered. Using this story he established himself as a expert and began a teaching/public speaking business. There's good money in public speaking...it's just important if the words are true .
Paperwork obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) shows there is "No Record" of his affiliation with the Army. (Click this link to see the Army letter). The next question is whether he has any military service. Once again, using information through FOIA records it shows he served as a U.S. Coast Guard Reservist from 1962 to 1970. (see link here.) Given that, the question continues. Did Bill Hillar actually claim these things or did someone say that he presented himself as a US Army Colonel?
Bill Hillar maintained a website (www.billhillartraining.com). Yet, around the time that people began questioning his status as either a hero or a liar, his website was taken down. Yet, once on the Internet...always on the Internet. This link is an archive of his biography from his website. Looking further, it appears that he had Elon University scammed into believing his story. On November 12th, he was honored by the university as a "Hometown Hero" by being a person that "makes a difference." It's clear that Bill Hillar presented himself as someone other than who he actually is.
Over the years, Hillar developed a good business teaching and speaking. He lives in Carmel, California...not a cheap living. Here is a list of public corporations, universities, agencies and businesses that Bill Hillar claims to have as clients. These are companies with funds able to pay well for speaking and training events. (See link here.) Additionally, he lists a variety of law enforcement clients. It's usually a bad idea to defraud anyone. Yet, when you stand before law enforcement professionals who are paid with limited public funding and defraud them...that's really dumb. Given that these training sessions were paid for with public funds, all of us become victims as our taxes subsidized his income. (Here's the link to law enforcement and other high risk clients.)
So...what about the murdered daughter? I know that Hillar established an essay award in the name of his dead daughter, Sale Hillar. More information about the award, including a chance to read two well-written essays by contestants are available HERE. If Hillar's daughter was a trafficking victim, that's a horrible thing. Yet, while I've not verified this, it appears that his daughter may be alive and well in North Carolina.
His students at the Monterey Institute of International Studies feel cheated and rightfully so. We live in a world where our young adults should have legitimate mentors, willing to guide them to a life of success - not show them that those who stood before them telling (and showing emotion) during his stories are liars. Yesterday the news story broke in California.
It's too early to say how this will end. Yet, I would not be surprised to see it snowball into a complete web of lies. Last year I had the privilege to help expose a "Medal of Honor" fraud. In that case the individual continued changing his story and resume as he was challenged. His educational bonafides changed with the weather and it was eventually turned over to authorities. My guess is this case will operate along a similar path of deceit.
Because he has not been charged or convicted, we can't legally call the man a fraud. Yet, the facts are clear as we know them. I contacted him for an interview. I've had no reply. If charged, this man could obviously face fraud charges. Additionally, if proven that funds obtained through fraudulent activities purchased property of any tangible value that could open the doors to money laundering or conspiracy if tied with any accomplice and ultimately asset forfeiture and incarceration.
If the allegations are proven true , this man will have earned a living on the backs of those millions of victims each year that suffer as slaves in the sex and labor trades. Shameful.