Top Corporate Investigation Issues: Knowing When to Hire a Private Investigator

Top Corporate Investigation Issues: Knowing When to Hire a Private Investigator

Independent corporate investigations are an investment in their companies. It’s not hard to understand why a corporation would want to minimize the impact of a corporate crisis. Corporate crises come in many forms, and all of them have undeniable effects on the workplace, corporate culture, and the bottom line. That’s why employers must be vigilant of problems within their workplaces, address those problems with independent corporate investigations, and foster an environment where there is an open dialogue to address pervasive issues within the workplace.

Ignoring a corporate crisis will not ensure the problem will go away. The idea of “letting it blow over,” does not guarantee the problem will not occur again. Pervasive, repeated patterns of corporate crises are indicative of a deeper error in the company’s operations. Only by addressing the root of these issues can a company hope to avoid these problems from repeating in the future. Many companies do have shareholders and other interests to protect, but ultimately, the issue must be addressed in order to avoid further losses. That’s why it’s crucial for employers to know when it’s time to hire a private investigator for their corporate investigation.

Bribery

There are many reasons bribery may occur within a business. Perhaps an employee is offering cash to an inspector to buy their silence on certain violations on their worksite. The same could be said of an employee who bribes a government representative in exchange for the same discretion. If not exposed, not only can this cause infinite negative ripple effects within the corporation, but if caught, the parties responsible can incur costly penalties, and possible prosecution. In order to prevent these losses, both financial and in public relations, employers must trigger a corporate investigation.

Security

A break-in, or other theft from the workplace should not be treated as an isolated incident. It’s imperative that a corporate investigation can be triggered so the void in security operations can be filled and prevent further losses. If the corporation’s security system requires and update, or if perimeter fences need to be reinforced, those items must be addressed. Thieves will continue to slip through the cracks if they’re not properly patched.

White Collar Crime

White collar crime specifically refers to when crimes like bribery and theft occur at an executive level, denoting the perpetrator’s level of access and perceived credibility within the company. They are elevated crimes and have some of the strongest potential to devastate a company or organization. White collar crime can be tricky to investigate, as most procedures for investigating misconduct would likely come across the executive’s desk. That’s why employers should consider the discretion of a private investigator for this type of corporate investigation.

Cybersecurity

When there is a breach in your company’s cybersecurity, there must be swift and competent intervention. Your company’s webmasters and I.T. professionals work hard, and there are going to be breaches that they do not know how to address, either due to the sophistication of the breach, or their limited experience with certain types of breaches. When a hacker can invade your company’s website or intranet, those are major patches that must take place as soon as possible. Think of a breach like a wound, and from that open wound, the corporation can continue to leak data, industry secrets, or actual profits. Your corporate investigation must include an investigator with a diverse discipline who can answer crucial questions about the breach—the who, why, and how of the breach, and whether or not the threat is still present and ongoing, or if there has been a proverbial “smash and grab” of the intranet. Skilled investigators will have the appropriate tools and methodology to address these issues and get employers the answers they need.

Harassment

Repeated instances of discrimination or sexual harassment are systemic issues that must be addressed in order to prevent costly turnover, training, and decline in corporate culture. Discrimination and harassment not only have internal costs, but can wind up costing the company thousands in legal fees and potentially millions in settlement money if patterns of abuse can be proven in civil court. Discrimination and harassment also have a disastrous effect on workplace culture as targets of the abuse become fearful or uncomfortable in their jobs and the perpetrators continue the same cycle of abuse that causes losses in turnover and loss of employee engagement. Patterns of abuse like this demand a corporate investigation, not only for the sake of the bottom line, but also for the individuals involved.

Knowledge of Imminent State or Federal Investigation

Upon receipt of a federal subpoena or other indication that there will be an investigation into your business by a government entity, many employers find it prudent to get out ahead of the bureaucratic red tape and get a comprehensive picture of what the government is likely to find. This can lead to prescient legal or public relations strategies that may go a long way in remedying the situation. A corporate investigation into the internal staff, operations, and policies can prepare you for what the investigating agency may find when they comb through the corporation.

Fraud

Fraud can occur at any level of the employment structure, from entry-level positions all the way up to executives. The strategy for approaching a corporate investigation concerning fraud should change depending on the scope of the fraud and the culprit. This means hiring a corporate investigator with a sophisticated understanding of fraud investigations and how to document the evidence in those cases. Without clear answers and professional solutions to fraud, employers simply don’t know what they don’t know. The act of contracting an independent third party to investigate also makes it more difficult for the perpetrator to cover up their actions.

Legal Action

When facing a civil, criminal, or commercial court case, corporations must apply the same methodology when reacting to an impending investigation by a government body. Independent internal corporate investigations not only provide a veneer of transparency by the corporation in question, but also provides them with an idea of what the plaintiff in the case could conceivably find and use against the defendant in court.  This prevents the corporation from being blindsided in an already litigious situation. The more information the corporation has, the better prepared it will be to defend itself.

Whistleblowers

Whistleblowers are every company’s worst nightmare, because not all corporations have operations in place for the contingency of a whistleblower. Thus, when an employee comes forward about misconduct or another internal matter to the press, the fallout can be embarrassing and devastating to the company. Corporate investigations into whistleblowing claims are good-faith efforts to address the concerns raised by the whistleblower in an objective manner. Hiring a private investigator for this corporate investigation can also be a sign of transparency on behalf of the corporation. Comprehensive corporate investigations can also shed light on other issues that might have otherwise been subjected to whistleblowing. Leadership can swiftly intervene and address any problems that might be occurring within their business or organization.

Knowing when to trigger a corporate investigation can be half the battle. Trust your instincts, and remember that it’s better to be prudent than proud when it comes to your corporate crisis. If you’re in need of a corporate investigation, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free consultation on our corporate investigation services. Call 317-951-1100 today or visit us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com.

How to Protect Your Employees From Mass Shooter Events

How to Protect Your Employees From Mass Shooter Events

mass shooting

There are many aspects of life that Americans miss from the pre-pandemic times. Activities we took for granted, like eating in a restaurant, watching a live sports event, or even our typical working lives. However, one of the most pervasive aspects of pre-pandemic life that was not missed is mass shooting events, like the tragic events that took place in Virginia Beach in 2019. Gun violence was so high in the United States in 2019, it might be difficult to remember just how high after a year in quarantine.

Recently, America was reminded of the tragic problem of gun violence in America with two active shooter events occuring within six days of each other. First, on March 16th, an active shooter went on a violent spree, shooting and killing eight people across three massage parlors in Atlanta, Georgia. Six of the eight victims were Asian, and the shooter reportedly blamed his actions on a sex addiction. Then, not even a week later, an active shooter event took place at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado in which ten people were shot and killed, including a Boulder police officer.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were more mass shootings than days in 2019. That’s 417 mass shootings in one calendar year. The GVA defines mass shooting as an active shooter event in which “four people are shot, excluding the shooter.” Sites of these mass shootings ranged from the workplace to community festivals. It was a record-breaking year, surpassing the staggering 382 mass shootings that took place in 2016. As attempts to curb gun violence in the U.S. remain ineffective due to congressional stalls and public outcry, employers and employees alike cannot help but wonder if their workplace will be the next target of a mass shooter event.

According to the FBI, the vast majority of active shooter events take place in areas of commerce, meaning buildings that are home to businesses, typically open to pedestrian traffic. The second and third most common areas are education (as in schools), and open space areas such as parks or concert venues. This means that employers and business owners of all kinds may be anxious to find ways to prevent and protect their livelihoods and the lives of their employees from this type of workplace violence.

The approach to preventing active shooter events in the workplace has two prongs. The first step in protecting the workplace or worksite from potential active shooters is risk assessment. Leadership should opt into a full evaluation of their worksite. Security is the first step in preventing active shooters. What are the credentials needed to enter the worksite? How many points of access are there? What are the security measures in place to protect the employees? How many security cameras are there? Not every worksite needs to have a metal detector in order to enter, but part of the evaluation would include an assessment of how likely it is for an active shooter event to take place. At least in the case where an active shooter event is carried out by an employee of the business in question, there are at least one or two warning signs preceding the event. Maybe the shooter in question has had multiple disagreements with coworkers, or has recently been disciplined for some form of misconduct. While it’s difficult to anticipate who may or may not incite violence based on recent events, it may be possible to predict future behavior based on an employee’s past behavior.

The second prong of active shooter prevention is operational oversight, meaning there is due-diligence on the part of leadership to ensure they are hiring the best employees with no history of violence or menacing in any way. Often in cases of mass shooter events in the workplace, there are problems within the corporation with hiring protocol. Perhaps the company doesn’t perform exhaustive background checks on their potential hires, or maybe they have not defined enough disqualifying criteria for a candidate’s hire. While there are many companies that run background checks for corporations, not all have the diverse experience of a private investigator. Through their licensure by the state, private investigators have access to verified, comprehensive databases on par with that of law enforcement. This allows them to look at a candidate’s full criminal history, address history, litigation history, and other important factors to determine what a candidate’s propensity for violence or unpredictable behavior. Long-time private investigators have the professional experience needed to view a subject’s record and perform their own risk assessment on their history. Private investigators can also use their knowledge of the criminal element and their patterns to identify employees who pose a potential risk who are already embedded in the organization.

If you have concern that your workplace may be at risk for an active shooter event, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our risk assessment services, or our active shooter programs in which we help your organization develop an action plan should an active shooter event take place. Call 317-951-1100 or visit us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com

How to Select the Perfect Corporate Intelligence Firm

How to Select the Perfect Corporate Intelligence Firm

corporate intelligence firm

When it comes to your business, you deserve facts—not fiction. Pervasive internal or external problems in a corporation can run an otherwise solid operation into the ground. Problems between employees, theft of trade secrets, and public relations incidents are just some of the issues that can hamper a company for decades to come. That’s why knowing what qualities to look for when hiring a corporate intelligence firm is key.  Not all corporate intelligence firms are created equal and if leadership is not careful, they could just be throwing money down a hole.

Experience

When hiring a corporate intelligence firm, it’s important to remember that while the company itself should run like a well-oiled machine, it’s the quality of the investigators that are the most important. Corporate investigators are tasked with evidence gathering, interviewing witnesses, and deductive reasoning that could make or break your company. While the corporate intelligence firm may specialize in certain types of investigations, the available investigators may not have the background required to meet your needs. Corporate investigation firms typically hire someone with former investigation with law enforcement, often federal law enforcement. While there are highly qualified corporate investigators with no experience working for federal law enforcement, it is up to the client to exercise due-diligence and ask the right questions. When hiring a corporate intelligence firm, no consultant should ever be hesitant about answering questions regarding their history of civil service, or the specific qualifications of the individual investigator or team of investigators who will be addressing the company’s corporate intelligence needs.

When hiring a corporate intelligence firm, the client should never be afraid to get specific with the firm regarding questions about how they plan to meet their specific investigation needs. While many corporations experience similar disruptions to their daily operations—just like the firms themselves—not all investigation types are created equal. An internal employee theft investigation is much different from a sexual harassment investigation, and the right investigator with the right experience could be the difference between getting answers and getting jerked around. Otherwise important details might be missed and the problem continues unsolved.

Technology

Field investigations in which data is aggregated by the investigator is important, but it’s also imperative that companies hire a corporate intelligence firm that has the capabilities to gather data by means of examining and auditing company databases and searching verified background databases in order to develop leads in the investigation. These corporate intelligence firms should be literate in the IT systems your company utilizes and should be able to connect to them efficiently. This means the investigator will be able to follow any leads that develop in pursuit of answers. Most importantly, the firm should be able to use this information under the most rigid of confidentiality agreements. Otherwise, the firm could open your company up to further internal or external threats, thereby exacerbating the existing issue.

Preservation of Attorney-Client Privilege

Corporations can help improve their chances of maintaining confidentiality by having an in-house attorney to oversee the contracting of these investigators. When an investigator of any kind is contracted by in-house counsel, they can maintain confidentiality has the investigator does the fact-finding on the company’s behalf. Without these necessary steps, facts uncovered during the investigation can place the company in further jeopardy and be subject to other forms of investigation that might occur during any subsequent legal action.

If your company is in the process of hiring a corporate intelligence firm, please consider Lauth Investigations International for your corporate investigation needs. We are staffed by former military and law enforcement professionals and carry an outstanding A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. For more information on our services or to verify us, visit online at www.lauthinvestigations.com.

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

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

Fraud | Fraudulent Finance CASE STUDY with Lauth Investigations
Job interview or meeting with bank worker in office. Business man considering. Discussion about loan, mortgage or insurance. Human resources conversation. Hiring or getting fired.

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.

Mergers & Acquisitions Need Private Investigators

Mergers & Acquisitions Need Private Investigators

A merger and acquisition investigation is often one of the first steps in prudent due-diligence when one corporation is looking to buy or merge with another.

Caveat emptor. Buyer beware. Consumers often find themselves thinking this when considering whether or not to test out a new product or replace a used one. After all, knowledge is power when it comes to your dollar. Now imagine that the product is not just a new shampoo or brand of cereal, but an entire corporation. Corporations who are flirting with the idea of a merger or acquisition regarding another company have a monumental task before them of performing due-diligence in fact-finding missions about these companies before they buy. If it is a publicly traded company, then a great deal of information about it will be accessible, but what about what’s not on paper? What about the staff, the internal operations, the unmitigated risk factors that could be inherited? A private investigator might be the perfect professional to conduct fact-finding in a merger and acquisition investigation.

Private investigators have the tools at their disposal to get the full picture when it comes to a prospective merger or acquisition. Private investigators have a similar investigative tool chest as law enforcement. It’s not uncommon for private investigators to be former law enforcement personnel. They are adept at moving within the environment unseen as observers, meticulously documenting what they see. They can get an unvarnished snapshot of how the business operates on a daily basis, how engaged the employees are, and how those things impact the daily output. They are adept at developing rapport with witnesses in order to get robust answers to pertinent questions regarding the investigation. Private investigators can also use databases similar to that of law enforcement to develop comprehensive background checks on the people in leadership of the company in order to determine within reason what is their risk of misconduct or negligence. Reviewing items like criminal history, address history, litigation history, and work history, they can profile the decision makers, document their history of decision-making, and how their relationship with their employees impacts the corporate culture of the company.

When it comes to a merger and acquisition investigation, a risk management firm might be the first entity that comes to mind. Private investigators and risk management firms often possess similar investigative methodologies in their experience with observing patterns of behavior and predict multiple outcomes within reason. Private investigators might have unexpected insight into mergers and acquisitions, because while the product, the brand, and the value are all critical factors in these corporate marriages, it is truly the human element that makes or breaks a business. Not unlike law enforcement, private investigators make their trade in analyzing and anticipating human behavior in order to develop leads for their casework. Their diverse experience in this arena allows them to conduct an evaluation of the business that goes beyond numbers and profit, but also how the dynamics between employees and the corporate culture will ultimately affect the parent company’s bottom line. If the private investigator finds that the company experiences repeated disruptions to operations due to inefficiency, apathy, or negligence, it further exacerbates the causation of these disruptions. The corporate culture declines and employees become more apathetic and disengaged. Without major overhaul to the corporate culture, the entity looking to buy might reconsider. When a company has a pervasive problem with employee misconduct of all kinds, including sexual harassment, discrimination, theft, and a high rate of turnover might be flagged as an unadvised risk by private investigators and risk assessment firms alike. The quality of corporate culture moves in a cycle based on how well it meets the needs of everyone involved in the workplace. When that corporate culture is consistently poor, these companies regularly open themselves up to costly turnover, employee theft, and legal action. If your company is involved in a merger or acquisition with another company, consider hiring Lauth Investigations International for your intelligence needs. Our team of private investigators is comprised of former military and law enforcement personnel who are ready to get to the truth for our clients. We’re adept in undercover and surveillance operations and carry an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau. Call today at 317-951-1100

University Investigations: How Private Investigators Can Help

University Investigations: How Private Investigators Can Help

Unviersity investigations require independent investigators

It is not uncommon for university investigations to feature some level of noncompliance and the university not cooperating with police or law enforcement. An aura of austerity and secrecy develops as the top decision-markers close ranks and circle the wagons to protect the interests of the university. No one usually thinks of universities as corporations, but they do bring in billions of dollars per year throughout the United States, much of that cash flow coming from private donors whose interests must also be protected during the investigation. Private investigators can take the same skillsets that allow them to expose misconduct within a corporation and apply them to university investigations.

Corporate investigations vs. university investigations

University investigations are rather common, though the investigation type is not always the same. When it comes to intelligence operations, private universities as an entity are a proverbial garden of opportunities for private investigators to apply their trade. There are two principal pools where the crime and misconduct are found. There’s the student body, who finds time for socializing and partying when they’re not hitting the books. Crimes committed within the student body may not be easily closed, either because the students involved or the university itself are not cooperating. The other common pool of opportunity is in the university faculty. While a university is not strictly a corporation, they experience similar workplace environments and are subject to the same workplace dynamics as businesses or nonprofits. There’s harassment between coworkers, financial misconduct, other forms of fraud, bribery, and collusion. These are all opportunities for private investigators to apply their methodology in a way that can improve a university for both the faculty and the student body.

Sexual assault investigations

Anyone who has ever seen a Dick Wolf police procedural knows that one of the most common crimes associated with universities is sexual assault. RAINN, the country’s largest organization combatting sexual violence estimates “11.2% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.” Sexual violence on campuses is pervasive and it is not uncommon for the university police to be ill-equipped or unwilling to help. InvestigateWest calls the phenomenon “a culture of indifference.” If the survivor then supersedes campus police and reports the assault to their local police department, a faulty investigation on behalf of campus police—either intentionally or otherwise—can severely impact the police’s investigation. This often leaves survivors with no recourse for justice, and are often compelled to continue attending classes in the same vicinity as their alleged attacker. This extends not only to student-on-student assault, but also between faculty and student, with even more devastatingly high stakes for the university as well as the survivor. Repeated instances in which the university ultimately shields the accused and displays documented negligence in properly investigating the survivor’s allegations can constitute a pattern of misconduct.

Violence, vandalism and theft

While sexual assault is one of the most serious and heinous crimes associated with campus life and work, there are other issues of student misconduct that require proper investigative methodology that campus police or local law enforcement might be ill-equipped to handle. Things such as theft, vandalism, stalking, and other forms of violence can also go unchecked if not properly investigated. When a victim has no recourse from other authorities, a private investigator can be the perfect professional to provide crucial context. Their proficiency in running comprehensive background checks and locating subjects, private investigators can make contact with elusive persons of interests in university investigations. Private investigators can go undercover, documenting behavior and actions that might otherwise be concealed. Private investigators also have an investigative edge over law enforcement. Though they are licensed and bonded by the states, private investigators are still private citizens. Young adults ages 18-24 typically have a great deal to lose in university investigations, including financial loss, loss of scholarships or grants, expulsion, arrest, and fallout with their families. This fosters a pattern of noncooperation with law enforcement in order to minimize consequences for themselves and their friends. Another critical factor is that underage drinking and illegal drug use are synonymous with campus culture, which could prompt additional consequences. However, private investigators have no powers of arrest, which can lead to the cooperation of subjects in university investigations. This dislodges any roadblocks in case progression, increasing the likelihood of a solution.

Faculty subjects in university investigations

Describing the impact of the crimes previously described become exponentially more devastating when you expand the pool of perpetrators to university faculty and staff. Furthermore, the level of noncooperation with investigating bodies when it comes to university investigations typically increases when it involves a staff member, and is proportional to their role within the university. The college admissions scandal in 2019, involving high profile defendants Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, showed everyone how much bad press universities can get when misconduct is exposed on the national stage, and universities are invested in minimizing such exposure. They stand to lose endorsements, contracts, sponsorships, and drops in enrollment rates as students and parents refuse to participate in an application process that has proven to be financially rigged. Private investigators can apply the same investigative methodology used in corporate investigations and apply it to university investigations. Undercover operations, surveillance operations, witness location, and evidence gathering are all services that private investigators use to expose misconduct within organizations, and universities are no exception. In addition to the crimes previously described, employee misconduct in university investigations such as fraud, embezzlement, bribery, admissions fraud, racism, and sexual harassment.

Hiring a private investigator adds an additional degree of integrity to university investigations. Because private investigators are independent of the university and law enforcement, their findings stand up to a higher degree of scrutiny at the conclusion of an investigation and in a court of law. Because private investigators are not bound by jurisdiction or by a chain of command, they are usually better equipped to push back against noncooperation in university investigations. The private investigators of Lauth Investigations International are staffed by former law enforcement and military personnel with diverse experience in applying investigative methods to complex situations in pursuit of truth for our clients. We provide comprehensive reports and expert recommendations.

If you need a private investigator for a university investigation, call Lauth Investigations International today at 317-951-1100, or visit us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com.