Internal Investigations During Coronavirus

Internal Investigations During Coronavirus

Internal Investigations During Coronavirus

COVID-19, or “the corona virus” has already had an unprecedented effect on the world’s economy in the 21st century. Millions across the globe are currently practicing self-quarantine or “social-distancing”, while many workplaces are shutting down in order to prevent the spread of the virus. While many struggle during this time of social isolation, internal investigations in corporations and organizations are experiencing major disruption as well. Corporate investigators can continue to expect unique challenges with internal investigations, and will have to rely on telecommunications in order to continue their due-diligence.

Any seasoned investigator will tell you that one of the greatest challenges with internal investigations is developing rapport with the human sources in the case. This is usually achieved by face-to-face interaction, bringing down the witness’ guard, and evaluating everything from their facial expressions to their body language. With everyone working from home (or not at all), internal investigators have lost access to face-to-face contact with those human sources and witnesses. Investigators have transitioned to conducting crucial interviews over the phone, which may not have as many drawbacks as you think.

We’re often told that a person’s actions—not their words—are a good indicator of honest or dishonest accounts of any type of incident. Are they blinking too much, or not enough? Are they touching their face? Are they inexplicably breaking out in sweat or becoming flushed? These are all clues private investigators and corporate investigators consider when determining the veracity of a witness’ story. But can you find the truth from only hearing a person’s voice?

Studies indicate that human beings actually can tell a lot more from a person’s voice than their body language when it comes to gauging their level of honesty. Michael Johnson, a former U.S. Department of Justice attorney and CEO of Clear Law Institute, stated “While there are some non-verbal cues to lying, most people don’t know what those are, and sometimes they are the opposite of what you think.” Conducting corporate investigations over the phone doesn’t mean investigators still can’t garner helpful information. Without the distraction of visual stimuli, investigators are able to take detailed notes about a person’s story—the timeline, the verbiage, the tone. Investigators are able to detect inconsistencies in the witness’ story and ask follow-up questions for further context that can benefit the investigation. An interview over the phone also removes any personal biases that an investigator can potentially develop from seeing someone in person with regards to their physical appearance, such as sex, race, and class. The investigator is forced to rely on the information, and is less vulnerable to deception on the part of the witness.

In uncertain times, it feels as though COVID-19 has brought the entire world to a halt. That’s why investigators must lean into one of their greatest skills, which is flexibility. Quarantine doesn’t mean that investigators have to stop their investigations, but they must instead adapt their existing skillset to ensure that the wheels of progress will continue to turn—even in crisis.




Scammers Get Personal Information From Your Phone SIM

Scammers Get Personal Information From Your Phone SIM

Scammers Get Personal Information From Your Phone SIM

Smartphones have become such an integral part of our everyday lives that many users joke their devices have become grafted to their hands. We use them to maintain contact in our work and personal lives, correspond through email and social media, and a bulk of Americans have made the transition to conducting their banking through the use of mobile applications. As developers continue their bottomless pursuit to create an app for everything, more and more of our real, flesh-and-blood lives are being stored on our phones: personal details, account numbers, passwords, and other sensitive information that could be misused if it fell into the wrong hands. That’s why smartphone users have to educate themselves on the specifics of a scam called “SIM card swapping.”

What is SMS?

For many telephone, internet, and smart device developers, SMS (short message service) text messaging is the cornerstone of their services. As of 2010, it was the most utilized service provided by communication companies with 3.5 billion users. It became a vital tool in direct marketing campaigns and remains one of the most popular forms of communication in younger users. Because of the ubiquity of smartphones, many companies that require a two-step authentication process for their users’ security implement SMS as a secure means of accessing information. For example, you attempt to log in to your bank account, correctly entering your username and secure password. It’s not uncommon for banking apps to prompt a second form of verification, so the app tells you it will now be sending a four-digit verification code to your phone that you must enter on the app to confirm that you are who you say you are. The code is sent to your phone via SMS. Once this information is transmitted over SMS, users are often derelict in deleting that information from their devices. This is where users are vulnerable to the scam.

How SIM swap scams work

Smartphone users who have lost their phone or who have been the victim of a theft often have the ability to call their mobile provider and provide their secure information in order to have the provider remotely wipe the SIM card and have that information transferred to another phone. Thieves in search of secure information will use tools like phishing mail campaigns, posing as legitimate companies like insurance and credit card companies to get the victim to willingly hand over identifying information such as date of birth, address, and phone number. Once they have enough identifying information, they will call the victim’s mobile provider and pose as a customer. They claim they’ve lost their phone or their phone was stolen from them. Then, using the victim’s identifying information, they will request that the mobile provider remotely wipe their old SIM card and rewrite it to the SIM card in their new device. Just like that, the thief has any and all information that has ever been transmitted via SMS text. This leaves accounts, email inboxes, and secure information vulnerable to fraud. “A high proportion of banking customers now have mobile phone numbers linked with their accounts,” fraud prevention consultant, Emma Mohan-Satta, told Digital Trends, “and so this attack is becoming common in some regions where this attack was not previously so common. Unlike mobile malware, SIM fraud attacks are usually aimed at profitable victims who have been specifically targeted through successful social engineering.”

Who is vulnerable?

Anyone who uses their smartphone as part of a two-step authentication is vulnerable to a SIM card swap scam. Once the thief has their hands on your personal information, they can devastate you in minutes by performing bank transfers, rerouting mail, and making purchases in your name. If the SIM card contained any compromising information, such as lewd photos or inappropriate communication with another person, the perpetrators can use that information to blackmail a victim into paying a tidy sum in exchange for the return of the compromising data. A victim named Tina told Motherboard, “This just happened to me over the weekend. I lost service late Saturday night and assumed it was an issue with my always buggy iPhone. Then on Sunday morning my husband got a text from T-Mobile saying that a line on our phone plan had been cancelled (mine) and i soon discovered that $1200 had wired out of my bank account to someone in [redacted] with my same last name.”

While the cost to a single individual can be devastating, a sophisticated thief can do even more to topple a business like a house of cards. It’s common practice for some types of employers to issue their employees a company cell phone to facilitate business, and in this day and age, that almost certainly means a smart phone. Correspondence between coworkers, appointments, account numbers, and sensitive company information can be exposed and exploited for gain. Companies that carry high financial sums in their accounts can be ruined before they even realize there’s a problem.

How to protect yourself

Dependence on smart phones to facilitate two-step authentication plagues many users throughout the country who enjoy the convenience of verifying their identity through SMS. Luckily, tech sites like Motherboard recommend a few ways you can protect your identity and your monies.

Beef up account security

Many major cell phone service providers are developing new methods of two-step authentication in light of the rise of SIM card swap scams. Many offer their customers the option to set up a secure PIN for their account, completely separate from the login information used to access their account. The PIN is used as a primary verification feature specifically for when customers call into the support center for SIM card-related issues. Previously, many providers opted for a security question for this type of authentication, but the answers to these security questions can often be found on a victim’s social media, such as, “Which high school did you attend?” This way, the PIN is never transmitted through SMS text messaging, and no personal information from a social media profile can be used against them.

Don’t link your number to your online accounts

Once a thief has access to your account, they can easily reset your password and other authentication methods, making it very difficult to quash the problem. Instead of linking your mobile cell phone to your accounts, you can choose a different sort of number, such as a Google Voice number.

Many individuals and companies bypass security measures for a number of reasons, such as lack of time, interest, or the mere belief that they could never be the victim of a SIM card swapping scam. The reality is that it can happen to anyone, and there’s no shortage of victims for scammers. Users who practice their due-diligence can build a security to block them out. When the scammer hits this wall, they simply move on to the next target. Educate yourself and ensure that target isn’t you.

Carie McMichael is the Communication and Media Specialist for Lauth Investigations International. For more information on investigation topics, missing persons, and corporate solutions, please visit our website.




Collectors Hire Private Investigators to Assist in Asset Recovery

When someone owes you money, no one ever said they had to make it easy to collect. Debtors have been developing new ways to dodge their debts for as long as anyone can remember. In turn, collectors across all industries have had to develop methods of collection. One of a collector’s greatest assets in this modern age is an independent private investigator. While collectors deal with the paperwork, private investigators do the legwork, using proven methodology to unearth the hidden assets of debtors in arears.

Private investigators work with some of the same tools and the same methodology as law enforcement when looking for debtor assets. As part of their licensure, private investigators have access to verified databases that allow them to develop comprehensive, cross-referenced background profiles on a Subject in any investigation. Private investigators have diverse experience in analyzing a person’s criminal, financial, address, and litigation history in order to build a contextualized picture of a debtor’s circumstances. Private investigators can unearth unseen assets like property, financial accounts, vehicles, and other valuable assets that have been previously concealed. Human sources are less common in asset searches, but private investigators also have the training to build rapport and garner testimony from relevant human sources in the case.  Private investigators are also highly skilled in obtaining and reviewing litigation records to document a debtor’s history of litigation in a court of law. Pervasive lawsuits, especially involving large judgements, can be a red flag in an asset search investigation.

Social media has become a more valuable resource than ever in many types of investigations. The amount of information people unwittingly give away on social media is staggering. Private investigators can get information about the sale of personal belongings, photos of assets like property and vehicles, and can document the type of lifestyle a debtor is currently enjoying—like lavish vacations or expensive home renovations. Private investigators carefully document their findings to compile into a thorough report for the client as another building block in their case against the debtor in arears.

If you’re a collecting party trying to reap your due, don’t hesitate to reach out to private investigator for a quote on their asset search services. Through open-source intelligence and transparent investigation methods, private investigators can get to the bottom of a debtors hidden assets.

A private investigator can find your stolen art & jewelry

A private investigator can find your stolen art & jewelry

A private investigator is an ideal professional to track down your stolen art & jewelry
A private investigator is an ideal professional to track down your stolen art & jewelry

Even the most equipped and vigilant police department must prioritize casework—a triage in which violent crimes are placed at the forefront daily operations and receive the most resources from jurisdictional law enforcement. Crimes concerning only the theft of personal property like jewelry, art, electronics, and other valuable items are usually moved to the back burner. This leaves many individuals without recourse and without their valuable property, and leaves private investigators with an opportunity to provide clarity and solutions.

Successful and prolific private investigators typically have a background in law enforcement, working in law enforcement agencies, or in tandem with law enforcement. They develop a similar resume, and experience in forensic methodology, subject profiling, and making recommendations to clients regarding their case and how to move forward. They have a similar tool chest of instinct, rapport, and due-diligence that carries them from the intake call to the closing report. When law enforcement cannot pursue a non-violent crime for whatever reason, private investigators are ideal candidates to pick up the slack, and that includes the theft of art, jewelry, or other valuable property.

Typically, private investigators are completely independent, and do not rely on a chain of command. Their autonomy makes them an ideal professional to chase leads on stolen property. This means there is no valuable time lost to bureaucracy and private investigators spend billable hours serving their clients.

Witness location is one of a private investigator’s greatest skills when it comes to the theft of art, jewelry, or other valuable property. One of the most difficult parts of any investigation is identifying the unseen human sources in any case. Private investigators can canvass the surrounding areas—neighbors and businesses—asking relevant questions about suspicious activity or the regular faces in the neighborhood. Private investigators can also canvass the pawn shops in the area in search of art and jewelry that was pawned for a quick buck by the thief. Private investigators collect the witness statements, contact information, and include it as part of a comprehensive closing report.

Private investigators are also proficient in identifying the non-human sources associated with art & jewelry theft investigations. Due to the ubiquity of both internal and external CCTV footage, it’s more possible than ever for investigators to map a suspect’s movements following a crime. Private investigators identify these surveillance systems and pull the footage for review to identifying human sources and potential suspects.

Social media is also a valuable asset in any investigation, but particularly with regards to theft of valuable property. If the thief does not pawn the item, they might try to sell it online, possibly through Facebook Marketplace, or on an auction website. Private investigators also know how to gather geo-social data as further evidence of the theft, and can use the information found to recover the stolen item.

Private investigators are the ideal professionals to conduct an investigation into the theft of art, jewelry, or other valuable property . Their independence and their objectivity allow them to follow any lead and turn over every rock. Their access to verified databases and use of proven methodology means they can find the thief in your midst, and help you recover your treasure.

Corporate Culture in the Moloson Coors shooting

Molson Coors shooting

Just after lunch last Wednesday, violence erupted in Milwaukee, WI at the famous Molson Coors factory, when an employee walked in with a loaded firearm and began shooting, leaving 5 victims and the shooter deceased. The violence is another in a string of shootings in the workplace that has corporate leadership wondering what their role is in limiting these acts of violence.

The victims in the Milwaukee Molson Coors shooting were identified as Jesus Valle Jr., 33; Gennady Levshetz, 61; Trevor Wetselaar, 33; Dana Walk, 57; and Dale Hudson, 60. The shooter, electrician Anthony N. Ferrill, 51, is deceased as well. Those victims, Ferrill’s coworkers, are remembered by the dozens of friends and family they left behind, as well as a community rocked by violence. Molson Coors chief executive Gavin Hattersley said in a news conference, “They were husbands, they were fathers, and they were friends. They were a part of the fabric of our company and our community, and we will miss them terribly.”

While many acts of violence in the workplace are perpetrated by former employees, Anthony Ferrill was a current employee of Molson Coors. Ferrill worked in the building’s utilities department. While authorities have not established a clear motive for the shooting, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ferrill had a history of dispute with his coworkers that many have speculated finally came to a head in the events leading up to last week’s shooting. The dispute may have had racial overtones, with Ferrill accusing other employees of discriminating against him in the workplace. He had suspicions that other employees were trespassing at his home, bugging his electronic devices, and disturbing his property. With the exception of one man, Ferrill had previous confrontations with all the victims, yet police have declined to comment on how the shooting occurred.

When shocking incidents of violence like this occur in the workplace, it’s not uncommon to hear from leadership in the organization that they are ‘shocked,’ or ‘astonished’ at the events that have taken place, or that the violence was perpetrated by a member of their organization. The reality is that active shooter events and other forms of violence in the workplace can usually be anticipated and prevented if leadership is not asleep at the wheel.

Most workplace crises, from violence to theft, can be traced back to faulty internal operations. That’s why so many corporations are seeking to have their daily operations evaluated by independent investigators and risk assessment firms. These investigators come into your business and begin examining hiring processes, onboarding materials, employee engagement, and the turnover rate in an attempt to identify the problems that cause frustration within the organization. In the unfortunate example of Molsen Coors, there was obviously room for more supervision with regards to intra-employee conflict. If the alleged intra-employee conflict had been given more attention, it might not have ended in violence.

Corporate Culture Audit investigators can provide leadership with the insight they need to improve their daily operations. Investigators can review hiring protocol, identifying risk factors and lack of oversight. They can review security systems, both in cyberspace, and at brick-and-mortar locations to identify weaknesses that would leave the company vulnerable to attack. These are measures that could have prevented the violence that broke out at Molson Coors, and they can protect your company, too.

If your corporation or organization needs a corporate culture audit, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our corporate culture audit program. Our program is built to fit businesses of any size and is customizable to fit you investigative needs. Call 317-951-1100 or visit us online at