Woman Dons Disguises to Get Money Back from Ex

Out of money for lawyers, Katherine Underwood conducted her own surveillance.

ByABC News
June 18, 2014, 3:03 PM

June 18, 2014— -- intro: In a very serious game of hide-and-seek, Katherine Underwood is spending a great deal of time looking for her ex-boyfriend.

The South Carolina native met Budimir Drakulic while she was working as a coat check girl in 1994.

"He told me he loved me on the first night," Underwood told "20/20."

But eight months into their long-distance relationship, Drakulic asked to borrow money from Underwood, and their love eventually came to include endless money borrowing.

"I believe [I loaned him] around $400,000," Underwood said. "I loaned him everything."

Underwood took him to court and won but he still won’t pay. With everything to gain and nothing to lose, Underwood has taken to disguise to find out where Drakulic's money is.

quicklist:1title:A Love Story Beginstext:Katherine Underwood was a coat-check girl working in Aspen, Colorado, when she met Budimir Drakulic, a scientist with several Ph.D.s travelling on vacation.

Drakulic professed his love for Underwood on the first night they met, but true love soon turned into true greed.

He began asking Underwood for money to finance his work as a scientist, and over the course of their six-year relationship, drained Underwood’s bank account dry, borrowing more than $400,000 from her and spinning a web of lies and deception that Underwood says she has spent years trying to unravel.media:24180313

quicklist:2title:Web of Liestext:Throughout their relationship from 1994 to 2000, Underwood said Drakulic told her he was working at Edwards Air Force Base in the California desert. In reality, the last time he had been on the base was in 1993.

In 2000, Underwood became becoming suspicious when Drakulic called to tell her he was working on a top-secret government project at Edwards, but the caller ID said Los Angeles. That’s when she suspected Drakulic was lying to her.

“I called the operator. She thought that was a Beverly Hills pay [phone],” she said. “Then I knew I was in trouble. I felt stupid.” media:24180175

quicklist:3title:Uncovering the Truthtext:Underwood hurried to Los Angeles and found her proof: Drakulic wasn’t working in the desert or on a secret project.

He was taking a private tennis lesson in Los Angeles.

“He was a liar,” Underwood said. “He wanted me to leave and [told] me that I have no business coming to Los Angeles unannounced.”media:24180025

quicklist:4title:In Disguisetext:Underwood filed a lawsuit against Drakulic.

She was granted a judgment and is now owed more than $1.6 million.

But Drakulic filed for bankruptcy and refused to pay.

Out of money to hire lawyers, she began conducting her own surveillance, including dressing in disguise, in an attempt to locate Drakulic’s assets.media:24182612

quicklist:5title:Under Surveillancetext:Underwood told "20/20" about a time when she sat next to Drakulic at a restaurant and heard him discussing the case just feet away.

“One time that I sat so close that the waiter came up to ask me for my order, and I couldn’t talk to him,” she said. “I heard [Drakulic] say that they had outsmarted us.”

But no amount of surveillance and digging could get Drakulic to repay his debts. The elusive scientist seemingly had no assets in his name, making it close to impossible to claim that he had the money to pay her back. media:24182545

quicklist:6title:Private Investigator on the Casetext:Bob Nygaard discovered that Drakulic was earning big bucks.

A private investigator who specializes in playing hide-and-seek with people who don’t want to be found, Nygaard discovered that Drakulic was making close to a quarter of a million dollars per year.

“She’s owed a fortune and she can’t collect a single cent because this guy’s playing games,” he told ABC News' "20/20." “Talk about adding insult to injury. It really is a travesty of justice.” media:24179963

quicklist:7title:The Last Attempttext:Another professional is now on the case. Nelson Tucker, a process server, went to Drakulic’s workplace seeking to garnish his wages.

It’s a last attempt at getting Underwood her money back: If Drakulic fails to respond to the court order within the next week, his employer must legally deduct 25 percent of his income and send it to the L.A. Sheriff’s office for Underwood.

"It doesn’t go away,” Tucker told "20/20." “It just keeps getting larger and larger, which is putting him deeper and deeper in the hole."media:24179728

quicklist:8title:Still Searching for Answers media:24179313text:For Underwood, gone is the man that swept her off her feet 20 years ago.

“Could you do that to someone you cared about? I don't think so,” said Underwood.media:24179313caption:use