Find a Private Investigator- Go Local

Private investigators help with a myriad of corporate issues: from helping employers discover employee theft, to helping attorneys gather information for a case, there is very rarely a time where conflict arises in a professional situation when a private investigator would not be helpful, if not necessary.

Once someone decides to hire a private investigator for their corporate needs, the next question becomes who to hire. A quick internet search will show that there are a lot of options when it comes to hiring an investigator, from different specialities to different geographic locations.

In this blog post we discuss why it’s important to consider geographic location specifically as one of the most important factors when choosing a private investigator, and why it is advised to find a local private investigator instead of going with a national firm.

Sensitive Information:

The vast majority of the time, private investigators deal with sensitive, confidential information that is relatively urgent in nature. Because of this, clients of a P.I. tend to take comfort in having an investigator that they can meet with in person and speak to concerning the sensitive details of a case. They also demand someone who delivers fast results after conducting an investigation. A lot of clients appreciate simply being able to call a local number or even stop by the investigator’s office if something is bothering them. A local P.I. is the obvious choice for anyone feeling insecure or vulnerable in a case requiring a P.I. because of the added comfort it brings.

Intricate Knowledge of Local Laws:

Oftentimes investigation cases deal with matters of the law, which is another reason why it is recommended to go with a local investigator. If you are dealing with a case that includes issues of local or state law, it will be far easier to work with someone who has experience strictly in the region you are dealing with and knows the laws inherently without having to charge you for research time. Especially in legal cases, a local P.I. is an asset that can also act as a resource for understanding local laws and practices for fraud and evasion situations.

Avoiding Middle Men:

Oftentimes, national or online private investigators will receive your case and then farm it out to a local P.I. anyway. By hiring locally, you are essentially just cutting out the middle-man and going directly to the local P.I., and this way you get to choose which P.I. will handle your situation instead of leaving it to the firm to assign it to someone, and you will save money by cutting out the larger firm that will take a percentage of the profits.

Knowledge of Local Logistics and Local Sources:

If you hire a local private investigator for a local case, you’re going to find someone who deals exclusively with the area you are in. This means that the P.I.’s network will be refined to this area and that he or she will have access to local logistics and sources that a national P.I. won’t have. P.I.’s often need to use numbers with local area codes to make phone calls, they need to set up meeting places in local areas, and they need to be on site for almost the entirety of the investigation. This all requires access to people, places, and information that local P.I.’s will have.

Familiarity With the Area:

Not only will a local investigator have better access to resources, but an investigator looking into a case in his or her own area will have the benefit of knowing the context in which the case is unfolding and being familiar with any important locations or cultural specificities relevant to the case. The simple fact that your P.I. will be familiar in working in your area will make the case easier to solve, make the process easier and faster, and help you to get things resolved sooner.

Supporting Local Businesses:

We are living in a time where going local is a good idea simply for the sake of going local. Supporting your local businesses is good for your city, good for the overall economy, and good for your peace of mind. Globalization opens doors for many people, but it closes doors to local businesses in the process, and this is leading to a lot of vulnerability for industries like private investigation. If you have a local private investigator who will get the job done effectively, don’t hesitate to give them business.

Large private investigative firms can give you the feeling of security, but in reality your case will simply be treated more slowly and in a less personal manner. Not only that, but you will end up paying for the extra travel and research expenses that will go into solving your case. For all of these reasons, going local for your investigation needs makes sense from a practical, emotional, and financial standpoint.

How to Prevent Employee Theft at Car Dealerships

Neighborhood car dealerships are often a victim of theft in many formats. For Lauth Investigations investigators there appears to be an uptick in handling these cases. Employee theft is common in general, with 50 billion dollars lost annually to employee theft in the U.S., but it is especially common with auto dealers due to the access employees have to vehicles and the high value of the product.

Employee theft is something dealers need to be constantly vigilant about. With merchandise going on and off site on a regular basis and with keys switching hands frequently, actual physical theft of a vehicle is common. If it’s not an issue of physically stealing the car, it’s a question of an employee tampering with invoices and checks. Whatever the strategy, car dealerships are losing big time to employee theft, which is a compounding problem since outside theft is already such a big issue for dealerships in the first place.

This week’s blog offers tips for dealers looking to prevent inside theft from their dealerships, with tips on how to handle it if you suspect something.

You need to have a good security system- This is a non-negotiable. Video surveillance at your dealership should be one of your top investments. There are a lot of good options out there including high quality video that focuses on internal processes and is meant to be used in the case of an investigation. Basically, you want a security system that is going to not just scare your employees into behaving, but that is also advanced and clear enough video to act as official evidence if you need it. Security goes beyond video as well. Whether you decide to invest in physical guards, or rely on keeping your facilities locked and changing codes frequently, make sure your security is as personalized as it gets. If you have guards, make sure they know all of your employees by name. If you have smart technology locks, make sure they have voice recognition or thumbprint recognition so that your employees are always identified. Of course money is an issue when investing in security and these options are not always possible, so we suggest at the very least making security a part of the company culture and conversation so that your employees know that they are being watched.

Nobody should have too much control- One of the most common ways that employee theft occurs is that somebody you trust is given too much freedom and control. We see this over and over again, and it feels like the same situation every time. Just because someone has been working for you for years does not mean that they are incapable of betraying your trust, on the contrary, these are the most common cases of employee theft because the employee feels comfortable enough in the environment to begin stealing. Everyone should have some form of check and everyone who handles money should have their books randomly reviewed at different points in the year. Many cases of insider theft are discovered once an employee goes on vacation and a new employee discovers a discrepancy that leads to an investigation.

Take discrepancies seriously- When anything in your bookkeeping doesn’t match up, it needs to be investigated immediately. If you have the least bit of suspicion that something might be going on, invest the time and energy into getting to the bottom of it. We see too many cases where proof of theft appeared early on but it was written off as mistakes in bookkeeping. Hiring a private investigator to research such discrepancies will set you back a couple of thousand. Being victim to employee fraud for a few months can cost you tens or hundreds of thousands. Don’t feel paranoid or ridiculous by choosing to play it safe.

Change patterns frequently- The key to avoiding theft, whether it’s inside or outside, is never letting anyone get to comfortable with the way things work. Make sure that the procedure for locking up, exchanging keys, and moving cars stays air tight, but also changes every few months. This will keep both employees, and outside observers, unable to take months strategizing how to steal from you.

Conduct thorough background checks- This seems like a no-brainer, but a surprising amount of dealerships do not conduct thorough background checks of potential employees. Just because someone makes a good impression or is a friend of a friend does not mean you don’t need to check into their past before you hire them. Many cases of employee fraud could be prevented by simply being thorough ahead of time.

Now if you are reading this and thinking, “All of this checking and suspicion is horrible for office morale,” you’re not alone. Many business managers need to learn to weigh protecting themselves from theft with creating an environment of culture and trust at the workplace. If you think that it is bad for company morale to have your employee’s feel like they are always being checked on, then frame the checks as a way to protect against accounting mistakes, instead of making references to theft. Also, be as transparent as possible with all other aspects of employee life such as salary, promotions, and rewarding hard work.

No employee can fault you for wanting to protect against theft as long as they are being treated with respect. Implementing these habits into your management will lead to a healthier and more efficient environment for both yourself and your employees.

5 Misconceptions and Limitations of Private Investigators

Mainstream media has done a fantastic job of skewing the public’s view of private investigators to be something that it’s not. Specifically, TV-shows and movies portray private investigators as people who are not bound by the same laws as everyone else. Here are some of the popular misconceptions about private investigators:

Misconceptions about Private Investigators

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  1. Private investigators can’t make arrests.

It is a common perception that private investigators function similarly to the police. However, private investigators are not permitted to make arrests unless they are in a state where a citizen’s arrest is legal. Even then, specific circumstances must be met and it is more probable that a private investigator would contact the police if they felt an arrest was warranted.

  1. They can’t check someone’s financial records.

Private investigators have several tools at their disposal but access to financial records is not one of them. Bank account information falls under private property and cannot be accessed without the appropriate approval from a court.

  1. They can’t tap phone conversations.

This is another instance where a private investigator is bound by the law. Private phone conversations are still protected property and it is illegal for anyone to tap a phone without permission from a court. This also applies to recording any kind of conversation without the subjects being aware.

  1. They put together background reports on people that contain private information.

This misconception is derived from the background reports people purchase online. The information in these reports, however, consist of public information and are usually generated by an automated system. You can often find the same information online yourself without paying a fee for it.

misconceptions-private-investigators

  1. They can’t access someone’s credit information.

Laws in the United States have made it exceptionally difficult to obtain an individual’s credit information. A private investigator is bound by the same laws and cannot legally obtain someone’s credit information without telling them first.

Now that you know a little more about the misconceptions of private investigators, let’s talk about how they can actually be of help. The advantage of a private investigator is that they can tell you where to find information that will bolster your case. They can also compile useful information that might be difficult to obtain on your own. If you decide to hire a private investigator, be sure to get complete documentation of the services they provide.

Feel you have a case? Feel free to contact us to see how we can help.

Trent A. McCain

My office has been using Lauth Investigations International, Inc. for the past several years for a variety of cases. They have investigated everything from wrongful death cases to civil rights cases. Tom is honest, tenacious, and hard-working. When I need to get to the bottom of something, Lauth Investigations is the first call I make.

The Dangers of Online Dating

The day after Valentine’s Day this February 14, 2013, national news reports indicated a spike in new online dating memberships. Once somewhat frowned upon, looking for love online has become more socially acceptable in the last ten years.

Ann Friedman, a politics columnist for New York’s website, reported in her article Cupid’s Cursor, that one-third of America’s 90 million singles have used online dating services. While some find love, get married, living happily ever after, some have met with tragedy.

Robyn Gardner, who I wrote about August 25, 2011 in an article Missing Persons Advocacy Network, remains missing after meeting Gary V. Giordano online. They met each other on an online dating site, and saw each other a couple times a month. Robyn considered Giordano a friend and agreed to take a vacation to Aruba where she vanished. Her family is still desperately searching for answers.

Robyn Gardner is just one of many women who have fell victim to an online predator. November 30, 2012, Michigan law enforcement announced the body of Leigh Swanson had been found in the woods, approximately 10 miles northwest of Midland. Her cause of death was a fatal gunshot.

Swanson, 45 years old, had met a man on an online dating site according to her mother, Beverly Kane. Kane said her daughter had expressed that she had a bad feeling prior to going on the date but made a call to her mother on November 18, 2012 from the man’s home indicating everything was fine and she would be home soon. She never arrived and no one knew whom she had gone on the date with.

After Swanson was reported missing, authorities traced the call to a house in Edenville Township, and dispatched deputies to the location. When the deputies approached the front door, they heard a gunshot from inside and ordered anyone inside to come out with their hands over their heads. A man exited the home holding a cell phone in his hand. The man had been on the phone with 911 reporting his son had just shot himself. A search ensued, and police found Swanson’s body in a wooded area on a neighboring property.

While the good news stories about online dating far outnumber the bad, the harsh reality is, online dating can also put people at risk. Following are some tips that can help keep you safe. Remember you can never take too much precaution when it comes to your personal safety.

  1. Always meet in a public place. Never invite the individual to pick you up from your home or accept an invitation to theirs.
  2. Use the online dating site email system to communicate. Remember, the more information you give out the easier you are to find. Even providing a private email address gives someone enough information to find out who you are and where you live.
  3. If you decide to meet personally, attempt to obtain as much verifiable information about the person prior to the meeting, such as name and phone number.
  4. Make sure you let someone close to you know who you are meeting, where you are meeting, and as much information about the person as possible. You can even have your friend call you during the date. This gives your friends and family peace of mind but also sends a clear message to the individual you are with that others know where you are.
  5. No matter how comfortable you feel with the person, never leave your food or drink unattended.

While I am not discouraging anyone from online dating, I do encourage you to take every precaution necessary to protect yourself.

About the Author: Kym L. Pasqualini is founder of the Nation’s missing Children Organization in 1994 and the National Center for Missing Adults in 2000. She served as CEO until January 2010. Kym is recognized as an expert in the field of missing persons, and has spent 20 years working with government officials, advocates, and national media. She is also a contributor to Lauth Investigations International and the Missing Persons Advocacy Network.

 

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112401/perils-online-dating

http://missingpersonsnetwork.org/2011/08/family-remains-focused-%E2%80%93-the-disappearance-of-robyn-gardner/

Aruba Mystery: What Happened to Missing Robyn Gardner?

Conduct Due Diligence for Corporate Merging

Why You Should Conduct Due Diligence for Corporate Merging or Acquisition of Another Company?

Indianapolis Private Investigator, Lauth Investigations can assist companies with the merger and acquisition due diligence process.

Just like you would do a background check on a potential employee, it is also important to do a comprehensive due diligence check on another company that you are considering merging or acquiring. While a business deal may seem lucrative and advantageous on the surface, complex and devastating problems could be lurking below the surface. By determining a potential company’s background and assets, you will be preventing business disasters by determining the factual background of a company as well as lowering the risk of crime within the business.

While Michael Sisco may be describing due diligence as related to technology, he still has several key concepts that every business may consider which follow as:

  • Stability
  • Financial cost trends
  • Individual “flight risks”
  • Business continuity issues
  • Key players (2)

What exactly is involved in the due diligence process? First of all, a confidentiality agreement is requested from the seller by the buyer. This is basically an agreement to gain the knowledge about EVERY aspect of the business before you make an agreement with the seller. If you do not make an offer in the end, this agreement ensures you will keep all information confidential. The following is a list of items that are typical in a confidentiality agreement:

  • Financials–3 years of financials is typical
  • Employees–title, wage, duties
  • Vendors—relationship with company
  • Inventory
  • Equipment
  • Furniture and fixtures
  • Debts—It is vital you understand if you are acquiring any debt, and if so, how much

Due diligence also involves a review period, which can be agreed upon, and three critical issues are explored during this time period. Legal due diligence is important to determine if the seller has the title to sell the company which is essential if the seller is part of a franchise. The financial due diligence portion can determine if there are hidden assets or financial issues that need to be addressed. Commercial due diligence will determine the competition of the business as well as how the market views the business. If everything goes well and you decide to buy the business, consult someone to write a buy/sell agreement. (3)

Other key ideas to keep in mind: “Capital—If you have leftover capital, use it wisely, and don’t overspend. Employees—Review all employees again. Fire the ones that have red flags or hire new ones if they current employees are doing their job. Inventory and Equipment—Be frugal. Upgrade instead of buy brand new equipment.”

Keep in mind to not rely on verbal statements. Stick to the confidentiality agreement. If the seller is not divulging all information, there is probably a (shady) reason so look into a new seller. Do not try to conduct due diligence on your own, and do not neglect the due diligence process. It could end in disaster. (3)

The lack of due diligence can have significant unforeseen financial consequences. For example, the Victorian Funds Management Corporation lost $500 million dollars due to lack of due diligence and relied only on Google searches. Their choice in pursuing death funds by Life Settlements Whole Funds turned out to be a financial disaster. Instead of taking the time to properly check out the deal and listen to regulators who cautioned against it, they went through with the merger. If they would have performed due diligence, they would not have been discredited or have suffered such a substantial financial setback. (4)

Remember, when you merge with another company or acquire their company, THEIR problems become YOUR problems. These problems can be as minor as inflated labor costs or as disastrous as embezzling corporate funding. The solution to this potential risk is to ensure you conduct proper due diligence before you partner with another company. You wouldn’t want their mistakes to become the failure of your company. The positive aspect is that by acquiring or merging with another company can lead to more success for your business if the background check is conducted properly.

About the Author: Kym L. Pasqualini is founder of the Nation’s Missing Children Organization in 1994 and the National Center for Missing Adults in 2000. Kym is an expert in the field of missing persons and continues to advocate for crime victims utilizing 20 years’ experience working with government officials, law enforcement, advocates, private investigators, and national media.

Computer and Cellular Forensics.

Computer forensics remains a growing field in private investigations. Sometimes referred to as computer forensic science, private investigators specialized in computer forensics, may be hired by private individuals and major corporations to securely collect data, examining and preserving the contents of the computer, cellular or storage device, and assist with investigations from pornography detection to corporate espionage. Law enforcement detectives and private investigators are a very specialized group of professionals with the ability to recover, analyze, and present their findings and opinions in a court of law. Many serve as expert witnesses in court trials.

Considered a branch of digital forensic science, the search of computers and other devices commonly refers to legal evidence presented in a court of law. There is a wide range of serious computer crimes that have emerged since the early 1980s such as fraud, the exchange of child pornography, cyber-stalking and more recently ‘hacking’ that created the necessity for this specialized group of detectives.

Forensic science used in computer investigations in civil proceedings is now termed ‘electronic discovery’ and is another form of information gathering. Through use of computer forensics, information referred to as ‘digital artifacts,’ such as an electronic document, email, and images are is gathered, identified, preserved, extracted, analyzed, documented and then interpreted using forensic methodology.

One of the most famous cases in history solved by the use of computer forensics was the feared “BTK Killer’ in Wichita, Kansas. From 1974 until 1991, a string of murders had occurred that cost millions and thousands of police man-hours to investigate but remained unsolved for over thirty years.

The investigation into the murders of four members of the Otero family began on January 15, 1974. Joseph Otero Jr., 38, his wife Julie, 34 and their two children, Josie, 11, and Joey, 9, were found murdered inside their home. The couple had three other children that were not home at the time of the homicides.

Police did not know it at the time but Dennis Rader, who claims he had been depressed after a lay-off at work, began searching for his first of ten victims. He spotted Julie and her daughter, Josie and followed them to school one morning. Raider regularly had thoughts of sexual bondage and approximately two months later, he decided to act upon his twisted thoughts with the intention of fulfilling his sexual fantasies by attacking the mother and young daughter.

With his parka filled with weapons and bindings, he headed to the Otero home and cut the phone lives before entering. Rader had not planned on the father or son being home when he entered the Otero residence so he ordered all to lie on the floor at gunpoint. He placed plastic bag over Joseph’s head killing the father first, and proceeded to strangle Julie with a rope in front of her children. Next, Rader sat in a chair and watched on as little Joey thrashed around while he slowly suffocated to death.

Josie he took to the basement where he already had a rope hanging from the ceiling where he hung the little girl, her little toes barely touching the floor. Julie’s body was found hanging from a noose tied to a sewer pipe with panties pulled down and semen traces on her body. Her siblings, Carmen, 13, and Charlie, 15, were the ones to discover their parents and younger brother and sisters bodies.

Three months later, Rader attacked a brother and sister, Kathryn Bright, 21, and her younger brother Kevin, 19, in their home. While forcing Kevin to tie up his sister, both put up a fight and Rader shot Kevin two times with a .22 caliber, once in the head. Rader then attempted to strangle Kathryn but ended up stabbing her with a knife and left her for dead. Departing the residence, Rader saw Kevin fleeing, running down the street. Kevin was the only one of Rader’s victims known to survive.

Over the next fifteen years, Rader killed five more victims. During this time, Rader also taunted investigators with notes, poems, puzzles, and pictures; even naming himself ‘BTK’ for Bind, Torture, Kill. Then ten years went by with no communication until police received a 3.5 floppy disk with a Word document in 2004.

Computer forensics broke the case. Investigators were able to find a document on the disk that had been deleted but contained metadata indicating someone by the name of Dennis at Christ Lutheran Church has modified the document. Looking on the church website police quickly found Dennis Rader served as president of the church council. After thirty years, it only took forensic computer investigators a couple hours to break the base.

Thomas Lauth, private investigator and owner of Lauth Investigations, with headquarters in Indianapolis, IN also has offices in Colorado and Arizona. An experienced private detective, he has spent years working all kinds of investigations but credits computer forensics as one of the most effective ways to delve into a person’s activities, even if the individual has gone to great lengths to cover their tracks. “Spending twenty years as a PI, I have seen incredible advancements in technology and computer forensics allowing police and those of us working in private investigations solve more and more crimes,”says Lauth. “Using computer forensics, we are able to examine computers, cell phones, web chats, and various other Internet activities contributing to helping solve everything from missing person case to corporate fraud and forgery.”

About the Author: Kym L. Pasqualini is founder of the Nation’s Missing Children Organization in 1994 and the National Center for Missing Adults in 2000. Kym is an expert in the field of missing persons and continues to advocate for crime victims utilizing 20 years’ experience working with government officials, law enforcement, advocates, private investigators, and national media.