Archive for April, 2010

What do we do?


In order to understand the importance of the Private Investigation industry, here are some examples of the work conducted by PIs.
These are areas that are primarly conducted by PI’s or the private sector.

Since the very beginning, private investigators have been used not only to find birth parents but to reunite families. PPIEDA has (neglected, failed or properly defined) to allow an adoption investigation as an exception. One could easily conclude that adoption investigation (trying to find birth parents, missing family members etc.,) is an invasion privacy and a violation of the act. PI’s use pretext as means to prevent alerting other family members, during a search for birth parents.

Background Investigation
Corporations hire private investigation firms to conduct pre-employment background investigation. Private investigators are not allowed to report on a person’s criminal background without consent. To obtain this information from police source without consent would be illegal.

There is continued controversy as to whether an employer is even allowed to ask for a criminal record check. Certainly, if an employer suspects he has a criminal working for him, it is unlawful to conduct a criminal search after the criminal employee has been hired without consent.

Articles have been written which say that we may see the day when employers are no longer allowed to ask for Social Insurance or Social Security Numbers.

Child Support
Millions of individuals have child support orders they can’t collect. Their failure to collect on these orders is primarily as result of the debtor not having assets in his/her name. The debtors may work for cash in a cash profession; they drive with a suspended license, and they don’t have a bank account in their name. They are, from a collection stand-point, untouchable.

Trying to find collectable assets is an investigative task. How can we collect from a person who is working for cash as part of the underground economy? A private investigator hired by a recipient might use a very expensive surveillance, following an individual into work – which can cost a single parent upwards of $65.00 an hour and $0.65 per kilometer, with average retainer requests usually in the thousands of dollars.

Alternatively, a private investigator, under pretext, might call the residence of a dead-beat parent (or someone who knows the dead-beat parent). The pretext might be that of doing a marketing survey, trying to get a work telephone number.

Once the work phone number is obtained, inexpensive inquiries can be made to confirm the place of employment in which the client can then contact the family responsibility office to issue garnishments.

Corporations hire PIs on a regular basis to investigate theft, employee issues, collection, white collar crime, insider trading etc., PI’s often conduct background or due diligence investigations to ensure deals are safe and without surprises before they close.

Copyright, Trademark Industrial Design
It is a matter of media public record that major corporations like Gucci, Cartier, Rolex and Walt Disney have hired PIs to investigate infractions of their trademark, either directly or through their legal counsel. PIs investigate unauthorized manufacturers and distributors who unlawfully manufacture, sell and distribute these products.

With the technological sophistication of scanners and photocopiers, virtually all industries can find themselves victims of piracy in some form.

Criminal Defense & The Wrongfully Accused
Someone charged with a criminal offense may require a PI to track down witnesses, take a statements, or set up a sting operation to add other accused persons to the criminal matter. Defense lawyers hire private investigators constantly to aid in defense trials.

Debt Collection Skip Tracing & Recovery of Assets
PIs find witnesses, parties to litigation and missing debtors. Banks, trust companies, lawyers and insurance companies hire PIs to collect debts, serve documents and to aid in executing judgments. Recipients who have child support orders use PIs to find where would be payers live and work. Collection agencies also have in-house skip tracers to find debtors who owe money on behalf of banks and other entities.

Honesty Shopping
Private investigators are retained on behalf of retail head offices to pose as a customer at retail outlets. The private investigator goes into the retail outlet and purchases two items of clothing with the exact same price. The private investigator then watches the employee to see if both items are accurately processed through the cash register. This could also involve wearing a hidden video camera or even installing a hidden video camera in a discreet place in a retail outlet.

A similar form of deception is used owners of bar, and night clubs who hire PIs to to monitor their bar tenders to see if all drink orders are being purchased through the cash register. A PI will pose as a customer and continually watch the transactions processes or not processed the cash register.

Insurance Investigation
While the insurance community continues to be the biggest client to Private investigators they are in fact loosing the battle of insurance fraud. This loosing battle is one of the main reason consumers continue to find their monthly premiums increasing at alarming rates every year.

While PIs are involved in all aspect of insurance investigation they are most commonly involved in doing surveillance video taping on would be cheaters. Insurance claimant’s who are represented by a lawyers are already well protected under other legislation that would prohibit any PI (or any third party for that matter) of contacting the claimant at home or at work without their lawyer present.

However video taping cheating claimants continues to be a sensitive and controversial topic. Privacy advocates continue to fight that a residence should include the front and backyards as it has been legislated in many parts of the world. This is known as “the residence or any part there of” issue. If changed a private investigator sitting on surveillance watching a cheating claimant’s home will be refrained from video taping any movement if the claimant is in his backyard or front yard for example.

So if while on surveillance a PI observed a claimant faking an injury jumping on a trampoline with his children on the front lawn of his home the video tape will be in admissible. The PI could find himself in charged, fined or imprisoned jail for taking the video no matter how obvious. This would also make it difficult for PI’s who investigate claimants who my be working from home. A claimant for example who is fixing cars in his driveway for cash movingand bending and not reporting the income. All of these observations at a household will soon be illegal and inadmissible.

It’s believed that the legislation change will be right around the corner. While PIs are allowed to follow and video tape claimants who are suspected of faking their injuries, there has been a case before that went before Privacy Commissioner where an employer suspected an employee of faking an injury and being unlawfully on benefits. When the PI confirmed the employee was faking benefits by way of video taping the employee complained it was a violation of privacy. While the evidence held and the PI was not reprimanded it was recommend at the hearing that surveillance only be conducted “as a last resort”. It should only be contemplated if all other avenues of collecting personal information have been exhausted. The decision to undertake video surveillance should be made at a very senior level of the organization.

Any seasoned insurance investigator would agree with the recommendations but most would argue what personal information is there that can be obtained when the doors to obtain personal information are closing. How can we observe movements if we can’t follow?

Missing Persons & Children
Private investigators have been instrumental in finding our missing children. Many child abduction cases involve the parent who does not have formal custody kidnapping the child. Child abduction cases involve finding the parent who has abducted the child.

Undercover Investigation
Private investigators are hired by industry to work undercover. They pose as one of the employees and report to management on internal and theft, drugs, just to name a few. Questions about pretext and deception would arise as to if a PI is working undercover if he or she is in fact violating privacy or pretext laws.
Underground Economy

Private investigators have been investigating the underground economy from the very beginning. People work in the underground economy for many reasons, to evade taxes, creditors, child support, or mostly commonly are simply involved in crime and being paid in cash.

Virtually the only way to show that a person wakes up every morning and goes to work at a job for cash is to have them followed. The controversy of surveillance and video taping continues.

Vehicle Theft
The are a number of PI agencies that specialize in vehicle theft investigations on behalf of banks, finance companies and private bailiffs. PIs continue to be instrumental in not only finding stolen vehicles but identifying theft rings that usually involve organized crime. Many insurance companies have in house theft investigators that are working in the private sector most of them are ex-police officers

Cheaters beware


“Cheaters”….. We know all your moves; says PI Nanci Ikerd.

Don’t be “blindsided” check them out !

1). Decreased sexual interest with you.

2). Cheating spouse is often distracted and day dreaming.

3). Cheating husband or wife is often “unavailable” while at work.

4). Cheating spouse attends new functions outside of work or not wants to
go alone,  involvement in “Swinger clubs” online.

5). Cell phone calls from you are not returned in timely fashion.

6). Cheating spouse leaves house or goes to other rooms to talk on the

7). Cheating spouse uses computer alone and secretly.

8). Cheating spouse asks about your schedule more often than usual.

9). Mileage on car is high yet he / she reports only short distance errands.

10). Clothes smell of perfume or cologne.

PIs Help Landlords Catch Illegal Subletters


Here is a link to a store  in the New York Times about how Private  Investigators help landlords catch tenants who do not comply with renting laws. The article, entitled Illegal Sublets Put Private Eyes on the Case shows that Private Investigators can play an indispensable role  in catching tenants who are illegally subletting the apartment in which they are living.