Quid Pro Quo: How It Can Rot Your Corporation from Within

Quid Pro Quo: How It Can Rot Your Corporation from Within

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When we think of the phrase quid pro quo, “something for something,” we typically think of sexual harassment in the workplace. The presumption is in cases of sexual harassment is that a boss or supervisor will make unwanted advances towards their subordinate employees in exchange for work benefits or under threat of termination. But quid pro quo comes in multiple forms, and corporations should be vigilant of such activity within their organization, or risk a harmful malignancy in their corporate culture that will ultimately have negative consequences.

In the context of sexual harassment, quid pro quo means that an employee has been subjected to unwelcome advances as a term of their employment. This obviously constitutes a hostile work environment, and while it is morally repugnant to ignore such behavior, there are also negative consequences that impact the entire business. A hostile work environment can cause disruptions to daily operations that are costly for the business or organization. A person who is subjected to sexual harassment from a superior or other coworker is typically not as engaged as other employees. They do not dedicate the same level of focus to their work as they would in a non-hostile work environment. They tend to make more mistakes, and be more inclined to malinger in order to avoid their circumstances. This can lead to loss of productivity that may ultimately affect the corporation’s bottom line. It also poisons the cycle of corporate culture. As the affected employee disengages from their position, it can have a ripple effect throughout the workplace that will cause the corporate culture to rot.

Another form of quid pro quo that is less covered by media is bribery. Under the definition of “something for something,” bribery can occur between clients and their contractors, between contractors and businesses, or between businesses. When it occurs between businesses, this is typically the result of a mutually beneficial agreement. In another scenario businesses might also pay government officials for preferential treatment that would effect their bottom line. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Studies show that [corporate bribery] is also counterproductive resulting in lower profit margins, return on equity, and employee morale; costly delays as players haggle over the size of the kickback; and poverty and poor governance in the markets where they’re paid.” It goes on to say that according to the World Bank, “roughly one-third of firms around the world use kickbacks, paying an estimated total of $400 billion a year.”

Quid pro quo situations like sexual harassment and bribery also open the business or organization up to a parade of legal action and bad press that can ultimately devastate a company. Both corporations and nonprofits alike have seen whistle-blowers go to the government or the press if their concerns are not being heard from within the organization. Perhaps there is a sexual predator in the organization who was not terminated following a comprehensive investigation, or the investigation was not comprehensive at all. Many corporations might incorrectly assume that it is easier to push the problem under the rug rather than deal with the costs of turnover—interviewing a replacement, vetting applicants, and then devoting resources to training and onboarding. However, should the circumstances of the quid pro quo every become public, the costs of ignoring the problem will eventually be paid in full in litigation costs, bad press, and loss of business.

If you suspect there is quid pro quo going on in your business or organization, you can find answers with Lauth Investigations International. Lauth’s team of private investigators is comprised of former military and law enforcement personnel who are highly-trained in intelligence operations in corporate settings. We can perform background checks, initiate discrete undercover operations, offer top-notch surveillance, and provide expert recommendations for our clients. We carry a stellar A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and are available 24/7 for our clients.

Overpolicing with Employee Investigations

Overpolicing with Employee Investigations

Employee misconduct investigations have spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic in an unprecedented way. The coronavirus restrictions are different in many states, with many businesses still operating most positions in a remote capacity. In correlation with this wave of remote working, there has also been a wave of interest from employers in hiring a private investigator to spy on their employees while they work from home.

Anyone in business knows that due-diligence is the cornerstone of good practice. A proper level of oversight on behalf of leadership reduces the odds of pervasive issues falling between the cracks in the system and ensuring that problems within the organization are handled swiftly and efficiently. It also demonstrates for the workforce that leadership is engaged with the internal issues of a corporation and is invested in creating a better work environment for their employees. However, there is a threshold where oversight becomes disruptive and unnecessary, and has the potential to further disturb the bottom line.

Private investigators across the globe are seeing an increase in employee misconduct investigations. A private investigator based in Manchester, England, told the Daily Mail recently, “That was a type of work you never really got prior to lockdown. Now we see a lot of enquiries. It is quite prevalent. We get employers using us for surveillance to confirm that people are actually working and not going out of the house.” Employers are feeling understandably uneasy about the prospect of employees working from home without direct supervision. Many employers have transitioned to software that tracks an employee’s production level, or spies on their home computer activity while working. Others are taking it a step further and hiring private investigators to monitor employees while they work from home. For example, an employee might express distress over going out in public during the pandemic, but then be seen out and about.

Private investigators have a skillset that is ideal for this type of surveillance and documentation. However, the overuse of private investigators to police the behavior of employees can also have a detrimental effect on the workforce, particularly if employee malingering is isolated and not rampant within the organization. What it comes down to is a question of reasonable suspicion. A reasonable suspicion constitutes evidence to a reasonable degree that an employee is malingering on company time. When heavy employee misconduct investigations are instituted by leadership on such a wide scale, there is an err of distrust between employer and employee. The employee may decided that if they are not worth their employer’s trust, they might disengage from their job. They might be even more inclined to steal from the employer despite the knowledge that they are under surveillance. That air of distrust between employer and employee can rot the company culture from within, leading to lower returns and higher costs in turnover and training.

The bottom line is that leadership should trust their employees until they give you a reasonable suspicion not to. When that happens, leadership should definitely reach out to private investigators for employee misconduct investigations to get important clarification on their corporate crises.

Private Investigator Abuse: An Professional Ethics Dilemma

Private Investigator Abuse: An Professional Ethics Dilemma

Private investigator abuse is an unethical practice by which private investigator services are used to harass and intimidate others. This can come in many forms, like visible surveillance operations, and fact-finding/blackmail. Hiring a private investigator in a time of personal or corporate crisis is one of the greatest ways to get answers. Private investigators are trained, licensed professionals who use their diverse skillsets to get answers for their clients. These services are designed to give individuals context and peace of mind when they are making complex decisions in their corporate or personal lives. However, not every client who hires a private investigator does so in search of truth. Some clients seek to abuse intelligence services as a means of intimidation or harassment, and it is a practice private investigators must quash. Private investigator abuse is a real form of harassment that is utilized every day by both high-profile clients and private clients, and only serves to bury the truth further where clarification is needed.

Private investigator abuse and harassment completely fly in the face of private investigations—and independent, objective look at a complex situations concluding with comprehensive solutions. Intelligence services should be used just for that—finding empowering facts and intelligence. It is the pursuit of the truth, meant to be used to restore balance and perspective in a given set of circumstances. Once a private investigator turns over their findings to a client, with few exceptions, a private investigator cannot be held ethically responsible for what the client does with that information. However, when clients use private investigators on regular basis to harass and intimidate others, this is a misuse of the practice. Private investigators are typically independent contractors who can choose who they work for and when they work, meaning that they do have choices when it comes to using their professional talents to harm others. When the job is about bringing facts to light, it seems incongruent  to use these services to keep things in the shadows.

When private investigator abuse occurs on the international stage, it further detracts from the true nature of private investigations, validating every trope in film and television of private investigators as parasitic, seedy characters with dishonest intentions. Since 2018, the world has heard the cry of #MeToo when it comes to exposing sexual abusers in the workplace and private life. Among the men who were accused of sexual misconduct, the most famous is arguably Harvey Weinstein, the American movie producer whose crimes of sexual assault and rape got him convicted and sentenced to 23 years in prison. When allegations about Weinstein first broke, he set to work weaponizing private intelligence against his accusers. Ronan Farrow, an American journalist, first reported in The New Yorker that Weinstein was using private investigators of the firm known as Black Cube to dig up information on the numerous actresses and other women who claimed Weinstein assaulted them. The investigators combed through the accusers’ personal lives, building psychological profiles and aggregating information on them that could be used to intimidate or silence them, and it didn’t stop there. Donning the guise of a women’s rights advocate, one of the highly-trained operatives met with one of his accusers, Rose McGowan, attempting to aggregate information from her on the case. That same operative also pretended to be another of Weinstein’s victims in order to speak with a journalist and get names of the women involved. Weinstein’s attempts to subjugate the justice system by frightening his accusers into silence on such a massive level was patently private investigator abuse.

Harvey Weinstein is not the only high-profile clients that utilizes private investigator abuse to intimidate and control others. The Church of Scientology is also a documented culprit of using private investigator abuse to control members of their church and members of the church’s clergy. In recent years, documentaries and docuseries like Going Clear and Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath have brought to light the private investigator abuse utilized by the Church of Scientology. It’s difficult to qualify how high-ranking members of the church weaponized private investigators without going into detail about the doctrines of Scientology. Suffice it to say that when individuals decide they wish to leave the Church of Scientology, it was common practice for high-ranking members of the religion’s Sea Organization to send private investigators after individuals who had left the church, using manipulation, blackmail, and extortion to bring these straying members back the flock. In the same way Harvey Weinstein used private investigators to silence his victims, the Church of Scientology also has a documented history of using private investigators to harass and intimidate their detractors. In one episode of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, Leah Remini herself and former Sea Organization executive Mike Rinder are followed by a pair of private investigators while shooting footage in the field. What’s particularly disturbing about the Church of Scientology’s private investigator abuse is that no one is immune to this seedy form of harassment. Ron Miscavige, the father of the church’s leader, David Miscavige, claimed in an interview in 2016 that his own son had also placed private investigators on his father’s trail after Ron Miscavige and his wife escaped from Scientology in 2012. David Miscavige instructed the private investigators to follow his father and ensure that he would not go to press with information about the church following his departure. Miscavige put the private investigator in such a position that on one occasion, during a surveillance operation, the private investigator observed Ron Miscavige having what looked like a heart attack from across the street. The investigator immediately sought counsel from the client on how he should proceed, and Miscavige allegedly told the private investigator to let Ron succumb to the heart attack. According to a police report, stating that David Miscavige told the investigator “…if it was Ron’s time to die, let him die, and not intervene in any way.” This is the implicit extreme of private investigator abuse, in which the client puts the private investigator in the position of being indifferent to human life in the name of getting a more desirable result.

The simple answer to preventing private investigator abuse is that professionals must know when to say no to a client who wants to contract them for nefarious purposes. The free market means that professionals are free to choose where they work and how they apply their trade. Knowing that knowledge is power, it then behooves the private investigators of the world to take careful consideration when deciding to take a case and perform due-diligence in assuring that their clients are above board in the retention of private investigator services.

Private Investigator Methodology & Other Industries

Private Investigator Methodology & Other Industries

Private Detective Taking Photos Of Man And Woman

In recent years, the number of working private investigators in the United States has grown exponentially. As of 2020, in excess of 30,000 private investigators are believed to be working in the U.S. alone. Private investigators operate on the edge of society, observing from a distance, blending in with the fabric of society to surreptitiously document the unseen factors in any situation. Private investigators can also come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and genders, as more and more individuals are realizing, the capacity for applying private investigator methodology really depends on a professional’s style  and how their prior experience informs on that style.

Persons who might have a natural inclination towards intelligence gathering and other types of private investigation work might not begin their careers in the private sector. Many of these professionals start with public service, working in law enforcement. Members of law enforcement are typically natural-doers, individuals who like to keep their time and minds occupied with productive and fulfilling projects. When members of law enforcement retire, it is not uncommon for them to seek a new career in private investigations. This tracks with private investigator Tyler Maroney’s assertion that private investigators are “refugees from other industries.” In his new book, The Modern Detective: How Corporate Intelligence is Reshaping the World, Maroney examines how the growing private investigation profession has the potential to cause ripple effects around the globe.

The migration of professionals from other industries to private investigations is not unique to the United States. One of the most famous former law enforcement officers to apply their trade to private investigations was Christopher Steele, a former agency with London’s M.I.6. After leaving M.I.6, Steele founded Orbis, a business intelligence firm based in London, England, most famous for “preparing a dossier on connections between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.” Despite the cartoonishly vast heroics that can sometimes be associated with private investigations, Maroney claims that this power should not be blown out of proportion, “The tool kit available to private investigators is considerably less potent than the one available to spies and cops and prosecutors. We cannot flip witnesses, blackmail agents, develop confidential informants, bug phones, offer protection, send subpoenas or bribe sources.”

The highly-fictionalized profession comes with so many stereotypes, we might underestimate the variety of professionals who might translate their industry skills into private intelligence. Another profession that commonly applies private investigator methodology to their work is journalists. After all, a journalist’s job is to search out the story and find the truth. The principal difference between a journalist and a private investigator is the intent of a journalist is to publish the truth to as many people who find interest while a private investigator discretely hands the findings, or truth, over to their clients for their purposes. Journalist, Ronan Farrow, son of Hollywood actress, Mia Farrow, recently came to fame for using private investigator methodology to expose the criminal activities of Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein. Farrow had to fight fire with fire as Weinstein was simultaneously using private investigators on retainer to dig up dirt on the women who made allegations of sexual assault against him and to intimidate the journalists who were his detractors. Ronan used private investigator methodology to track down survivors, document their allegations against Weinstein, and create a record that would become the basis for Weinstein’s criminal conviction last year.

Maroney claims in his book that a private investigator’s role in society is to “keep the fish tank clean,” or in other words, serve as a watchdog against pervasive issues within our society that can easily get our of control with devastating consequences. When you have a complex corporate or personal issue, turn to the assistance of a private investigator to get crucial context. Call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our private investigator services at 317-951-1100.

Sex Trafficking in Indiana: Choosing the Right Investigator

Sex Trafficking in Indiana: Choosing the Right Investigator

In recent weeks, U.S. marshals have recovered 72 survivors of sex trafficking in Indiana, Ohio, and Georgia during “Operation Homecoming” in tandem with a string of similar operations occurring throughout the United States. The operation concludes within children from a wide age range being rescued from dangerous criminals who intend to traffic these children with intent to exploit throughout the United States and the globe.

Americans are obsessed with true crime material, particularly those concerning missing children, like the popular Netflix docuseries The Disappearance of Madeline McCann. Due to their sensational narratives, these cases typically revolve around conspiracy within or adjacent to the family. Missing children experts have also said that in a majority of cases, these children are abducted by someone they know rather than a stranger. The reality is that the danger comes from both strangers and family members who sold children into this form of modern-day slavery. Because cases of sex trafficking are not often reported on in extensive detail, social justice warriors have taken to  creating hashtags to spread awareness. Among these is the hashtag #SaveOurChildren which seeks to bring awareness to sex trafficking and the pervasive cloak of criminal conspiracy under which it supposedly thrives. From claims that the furniture company Wayfair was selling children by disguising them as cabinets on the website to claims that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are aiding or abetting sex traffickers by allowing access to record numbers of displaced children, awareness of the machinations of sex trafficking are becoming a more tangible fear for many Americans. In Indiana particularly, learning how pervasive sex trafficking in Indiana has been and continues to be can be a difficult reality for those who previously thought of their state as a safe Midwestern state to live and thrive.

Professionals across multiple disciplines and capacities, including medicine, social services, and the criminal justice come across survivors of sex trafficking in Indiana at a much needed, if overdue point of intervention. This leaves many professionals and advocates at a loss, as they only have a limited role in preventing sex trafficking before it happens. Kalyani Gopal, the founder and president of SAFE Coalition for Human Rights recently told the Chicago Tribune, “There is significant underreporting in Indiana  due to a lack of training and awareness among first responders. Trafficking victims do not identify as being trafficked for many reasons, Mostly, they see themselves as being with a boyfriend or being used by a family for paying bills.” The reality is that in many of these situations, the “boyfriend” is actually a pimp exploiting the survivor through manipulation and violence. Survivors of sex trafficking in Indiana have often previously been subjected to molestation, domestic violence, and extreme poverty, leaving them with few options or cognitive tools to recognize a pattern of abuse and report it to authorities. This tracks with a Fox59 report from 2019 that states Indiana was one of only 20 states in the country that had no new criminal sex trafficking cases pending in the criminal court system. However, experts and advocates alike agree that this is not indicative of a fall in sex trafficking in Indiana. Kyleigh Feehs of the Associate Legal Counsel for the Human Trafficking Institute said in a public statement,

“There’s no evidence that shows that trafficking in the U.S. has dropped so the fact these prosecutions are dropping means there are more traffickers who are free to continue to exploit victims they have in their custody now as well as a future stream of victims. One of the most effective ways to combat trafficking is to prosecute traffickers, so this decline in cases is concerning ot us and we hope that this data will show that there’s a need to prioritize this issue and to dedicate, have dedicated investigators, and prosecutors who are working to stop traffickers.”

Indiana has been unflatteringly called “the armpit of the sex trafficking industry in the Midwest.” The same set of circumstances that garnered the state motto “The Crossroads of America” makes Indiana a hotspot for sex traffickers. The proximity to the city of Chicago and major interstates that extend to the rest of the country make the path through Indiana unfortunately efficient to move survivors through, often undetected by law enforcement. By the time law enforcement becomes aware of any sex trafficking activity, traffickers may easily have slipped out of state and beyond their jurisdictional reach. Sex trafficking in Indiana is not only allowed to prevail under the binds of the state, but also through general apathy or horror. The inherent problem with combatting sex trafficking is that from law enforcement officials to private citizens, adults in the United States would rather ignore the problem with internal rationalizations involving the assumption that law and order successfully curbs these crimes coupled with general apathy and victim-blaming. In addition, the ever-evolving sophistication of sex traffickers, law enforcement also must work within a broken social system where endangered children and survivors constantly slip through the cracks. In Gopal’s words, “No community is immune.”

When it comes to missing children, sex trafficking is often one of the most horrifying culprits. Survivors of sex trafficking are particularly between 12 and 14 years of age, have been groomed over the internet, and have been lured from their homes into criminal clutches. Unfortunately, children who are reported missing by their families to law enforcement as “runaways” may not get the attention they deserve as endangered missing children—simply because runaways do not want to be found, and law enforcement often prioritizes time and resources elsewhere.

Sex trafficking is deeply exploitive for survivors, but they are not the only one effected by the horrors of sex trafficking. Their families are left twisting when law enforcement is unable to recover their endangered child from sex trafficking. That’s why many families turn to private investigators to find answers when their child goes missing. Private investigators carry similar skillsets to law enforcement in investigative methodology, surveillance technology, and fact-finding. Private investigators are typically self-employed and independent of any chain of command, which means they are not tethered by the same jurisdictional or bureaucratic red tape. This allows private investigators to follow leads from state to state as sex traffickers keep moving to evade law enforcement. Many private investigators are former law enforcement personnel who can assist police in a recovery effort once they’ve successfully located a missing child who has been trafficked.

Lauth Investigations International is a private investigation firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Their founder, Thomas Lauth, is one of the nation’s foremost experts in missing children. For over 20 years, Lauth has been working with families of missing children, documenting the factors that led to them being coerced into sex trafficking, and assisting law enforcement in recovery operations to reunite survivors with their families. “It is very important for families to seek help independent from law enforcement in tandem with filing a police report. Unfortunately, law enforcement can be often unable or unwilling to help families of trafficked children because they see them as runaways. Having a private investigator involved at the onset of the case ensure that families with missing children have a greater chance of finding their missing children.