Is Hiring a Private Investigator Right for You? Brian O’Shea of Striker-Pierce LLC explains.
Many people call us when a problem in their professional or personal lives seems to be out of their control. Perhaps there is rampant theft or information loss as your business, or maybe your spouse or partner has become so distant you just feel something is wrong, or maybe you feel your email has been hacked or you are being stalked. There is no “typical” problem that fits the mold of a typical investigator case. And your problem, however small or large, IS important as it is obviously causing you stress. So do you make that next, oft-times embarrassing or stressful step, of hiring a Private Investigator (“PI”)? Possibly…but there are some questions you should ask yourself first to know whether or not a Private Investigator can help you or not.
Question 1: Can your problem be solved? A seemingly simple question but one that many people don’t seem to ask themselves. Here is a list of requests that have been brought to us in the last few years with our responses:
- Example: “My wife was talking on her cell phone to someone I think she is having an affair with, can you tell me where she was when she made the call, who the person was, and what they talked about?”
- Answer: No. First, it is illegal to tap ANYONE’s phone unless you are a law enforcement body with the appropriate court order. Technologically, this request is impossible. Once a conversation has taken place, unless its been recorded, the conversation is gone. Any Private Investigator who tells you they can do this is lying. Period.
- Example: “I believe my former employee may have taken my Client list and is using it to help my competitor grow his business! Can you prove this?”
- Answer: Yes (and we recently did!). In a case like this there is a trail…email logs, download records, the new location of the employee. By working with the Client to track the past employee’s email communication and downloads, we were able to confirm she was involved in fraudulent activity (Note: the employer owned the email and the activity occurred on his system, so there we no legal issues). After that, we simply went undercover, became patrons of the competitor’s establishment, and through a little social hacking and unwitting conversations we were able to confirm that she had stolen his Client list and was actively soliciting their business. (She was recently fired when this was brought to light at her new employer, he then reached out and is now working with our Client and both of their businesses are booming!).
- Example: “My wife is cheating on me. She goes out every Wednesday night and works late every other Monday. Can you find out what she is doing?”
- Answer: Yes. These are observable activities and most are occurring in public places where there is no legal expectation of privacy. Granted, we could not guarantee what we would observe, but we were able to show the Client what she was doing at those times. Unfortunately an affair was occurring, but not at either location…at a third location he was unaware of. We were able to put the photo evidence in a report with an affidavit for his divorce attorney and the marriage was dissolved in as civil a manner as possible.
- Example: “My husband is a liar and not a good person. Can you prove this so I can take it to court?”
- Answer: No. A person’s “goodness” or “badness” is a matter of opinion and any amount of evidence collected will really not matter in a civil matter regarding divorce or relationship matters.
- Example: “My business’s reputation is being attacked online and in my community. Can you figure out who is doing this, how to stop them, and how to repair the damage of these attacks?”
- Answer: Yes. But not every Private Investigator knows how to do this. We actually have a team that specializes in “Influence” and Social Engineering. Essentially we investigate the negative postings, follow the poster, become friends with them, and engineer them into revealing personal information about themselves. Meanwhile, we enter the conversation online and slowly “level the playing field” with real reviews of the Client’s business in order to give new customers a fair view of the Client. Once we reveal the identities of the negative posters, we provide these identities to the Client. Please note that we only go after negative posters that appear unfair or the work of “internet trolls” or competitors. If a customer posted a legitimate negative review, we leave it alone.
These are just a few of the questions we have had and our answers were appropriate for each situation. So prior to talking to a Private Investigator, you should really look at your request and ask yourself “Is this feasible?”
You also need to weigh the cost/benefit of the work. Hiring a Private Investigator can be expensive, so you need to ask is the outcome worth it. If you are hiring an investigator to settle a case which the intended award is less than $2,000, it may not make sense to hire a surveillance team which will cost the same amount. The magic number is 20%. If we cost $2,000 (for example) than your case should be worth at least $10,000. Obviously if it is a custody or reputation case, hiring a firm like Striker-Pierce always makes sense.
Remember, an investigator should also serve as your consultant and adviser. A good investigator understands all State, Municipal, and Federal laws as they pertain to your case…don’t assume that your lawyer does. Additionally, a good investigator will always tell you how to solve your own problem if that is an option. Many times we have not taken on Clients as we were able to point them in the right direction for a simple, low-cost solution. It’s about taking care of your Clients, and that is what a good investigator does!
Remember, at a firm like Striker-Pierce LLC, you are not just hiring someone to help solve your case, you are hiring an ally. Our mission statement is “A boutique intelligence, investigations, and solutions firm that uses custom solutions to protect our Clients from hostile players.” Be it stalkers, ex-spouses, competitors, or even cyber bullies…a good investigator is there to protect and defend you.
If you would like to learn more about us, please visit us at www.strikerpierce.com for a free estimate. All calls are free and completely confidential.
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