In stories where people retain private investigators, you can expect a basic level of intrigue. Subjects in a private investigator’s sights are typically unaware that they are being followed, and everyone knows that individuals behave most naturally when they don’t know they are being watched. However, sometimes private investigators uncover incredible, life-changing information for their clients. There are many threads on the internet detailing the craziest private investigator stories ever told. Here is just a sampling of private investigator stories that took an unexpected left turn.
In this case, the client was a son who believed his stepdad was committing infidelity against his mother. He got in contact with a private investigator who engaged in typical surveillance methods for mapping a subject’s movements. A GPS tracker was placed on his vehicle and the private investigator tracked the stepfather to the site of a house that he had recently purchased for himself and the mother. He had been restoring it for them to live in and planned to give it to her as a 5-year anniversary present.
In an example of poor due-diligence, one private investigator managed to undo his client’s entire defense when he followed the wrong subject for the course of an investigation. In this case, the client was an employer who had a reasonable suspicion that one of his employees was committing worker’s compensation fraud. The private investigator conducted a background investigation on the subject and began following him in his day to day life to document his injuries. The private investigator had concluded the employee was faking his injuries, and had photographs of him operating heavy equipment to prove it. When the employer handed the case over to the lawyers, the lawyers were horrified to find out that the private investigator had been following the defendant’s brother instead. The employee’s injuries were real, and the client was left with egg on his face.
All in the Family
Sometimes private investigators can uncover wild family secrets that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. In this case, the client wanted an explanation for her father’s numerous extended absences throughout their childhoods. He claimed that his job required him to follow FedEx trucks around the country in order to prevent drug and human trafficking. The client, his daughter, retained a private investigator to follow her father on his alleged work trips and report back. It turned out that the father had not one, but three different wives around the state, some of whom also had other children from previous marriages. When the private investigator presented his final report to his client, she broke the news to her mother, who immediately cut the father off completely from the family. The report was then forwarded to his other wives.
From Worker’s Comp to Extramarital Romp
Retaining private investigators for worker compensation investigations is a great way to exercise independent due-diligence when trying to make a case. It’s hyper common for employers to hire them to ensure that their employees’ worker compensation claims are in fact truthful. Sometimes a private investigator will uncover an extra piece of information that will make the case all the better for their client. In this case, the client was an employee who had a believed a worker’s compensation claim to be in bad faith. He hired a private investigator to follow the employee who was allegedly hurt to document the difficulty he claimed his injuries brought him. While conducting field surveillance, the private investigator discovered that not only did the subject fake his injuries, but he also managed to capture photographs of him with a woman who was not his wife. The private investigator presented his final report to the client and the employee dropped the claim.
Hiring a private investigators to find someone, or perform a “skip-trace,” is hyper-common. Private investigators have access to verified databases as part of their licensure. They can look up people who have fallen out of connection with their client for years and help facilitate some form of reunification. In this case, a private investigator was retained by the client to find his estranged mother. The client had not seen his mother in some years due to her struggles with drugs and alcohol. He was not sure if she were dead or alive, but if she were living, the client wanted to tell his mother that he was happy, healthy, and that he forgave her for leaving him. The private investigator ran an extra report on the subjects in question for free, which led to the discovery of a lead. The client and his mother were reunited in only a few short weeks, and he discovered that she had been clean and sober for seven years and was leading a very happy life.
If you have need of a private investigator, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on your investigative needs. Call 317-951-1100 or visit us online.
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.
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.
Is there a way to stamp out employee malingering? The answer
Employee malingering is becoming a problem for some employers. As some states move forward with plans to open their states back up during the global COVID-19 pandemic, many are looking forward to life returning to some semblance of normalcy. While businesses make plans to reopen their doors, there are others that will keep the bulk of their operations remote with employees working from home in order to mitigate the spread of the disease. While many employers feel this precaution is still prudent, there is the additional layer of anxiety about whether employees are keeping their noses to the grindstone, or malingering.
Obviously, these are strange times. A majority of businesses
in the United States were forced to shut down direct business to customer
operations in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Employees who were
not furloughed or laid off due to COVID-19 have been forced to adjust to a new
working life devoid of work-life balance—their work is literally in the home—complete
with the distraction of children, family, pets, spouses, and other household
distractions. It is a stressful time, and it can be difficult to maintain focus.
Corporations and organizations should always prioritize their employee’s mental
health for the sake of their corporate culture. These predictable challenges
with suddenly working from home should not be considered employee malingering. However,
willful malingering can lay huge blows to daily productivity and ultimately
profits. Employers must have a way to verify whether or not their employees are
Under more normal, stable circumstances, employers have the
benefit of face to face interaction for determining how engaged and productive
their employees are. In addition to output, supervisors can note how many
breaks they take, the quality of the work, and the level of communication from the
employee, both on and offline. However, remote working has made detecting
employee malingering almost impossible.
Telecommunication technology has played a vital role in facilitating
the continuation of the economy despite the quarantine. Meetings are held over Zoom,
employee time is tracked through invoices or through an online time clock of
sorts that allows employees to log their time worked and have their timesheets
stored on a cloud server. Short of a live camera feed that documents the
employee in front of the computer or on the phone, is there truly a way to
verify if they are actually working?
The idea of hiring a private investigator to surveil your
employees may sound strange or even wrong, but it’s a highly common business
practice that legally exposes the drain an individual employee might be having
on your company. Private investigators can track an employee’s movements during
the time they have invoiced or logged, ensuring that any errands outside the
home are work-related and have some value to the corporation. Private
investigators can document these movements with GPS trackers placed under their
car, photographing their activities in public to either prove or disprove
employee malingering. Private investigators are trained to blend in with their
surroundings, and conduct surveillance discretely to prevent their cover from
being blown, so in the event that no employee malingering is found, no one is
If you suspect your employee is malingering on your dime, reach out to Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our surveillance services. Call us at 317-951-1100, or visit our website at lauthinvestigations.com
Corporations and nonprofits are in mutual company in 2020 as new rules and regulations of corporation oversight and employment go into effect. Leadership will have to step up their administrative supervision of their internal processes to ensure they don’t violate new legislature. Luckily, hiring a private investigator to ensure your company is compliant with new administrative legislature at the fraction of a cost to expand your corporation’s internal investigation team.
Legislature and leadership alike are refocusing their personnel priorities to push sexual harassment to the forefront of their reform. In addition to ratcheting up sexual harassment prevention, but all forms of harassment within their workplace. A recent NLRB decision that would allow leadership to enforce total confidentiality during internal investigation, which will assist the identification of predators within any workforce. Private investigators are ideal candidates to seek out the predator in any corporation or organization, because they can infiltrate the workforce under the radar and collect evidence and testimony that might otherwise be lost.
Employers can look forward to the United States Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) increasing oversight on work sites, evaluating hiring
processes, and ensuring every employee is able to legally work in the United
States. Employers who do not comply will be subject to both civil and criminal
penalties that can be devastating to an organization. Private investigators
have vast databases at their disposal to obtain work and residency records for
potential hire, applying proven screening methods to ensure no personnel are a
Legislature is also holding companies to a higher standard of responsibility when their independent or sub-contractors incur legal trouble or have grievances against the parent organization. A bill in California known as AB 5 would make it more difficult to classify a worker as an independent or sub-contractor, a measure that would effect employers both in California and throughout the nation. When contractors are successfully classified as such, you’ll need a private investigator on your side to comprehensively vet the situation. With their full investigative toolbox, private investigators can get to the truth about inciting events that led to legal action, collecting evidence, speaking to worksite foremen, and provide comprehensive solutions to employers.
Private investigators can also lend their prowess to individuals who
believe a corporation is misappropriating funds in order to comply with a
Department of Labor measure that requires employers to pay a minimum percentage
of total salary in order to satisfy overtime requirements. Private
investigators who specialize in financial fraud and misappropriation are able
to review a corporation’s internal processes and open-source financial records
to document the appropriation of overtime pay.
the ubiquity of technology and digital communication systems, corporate data—especially
with regard to transparency—is a trending issue in public discourse. Whether
through legal channels or otherwise, corporations and organizations need to
protect their data from falling into the wrong hands. A private investigator
can provide any organization with a risk assessment of both their digital and
brick-and-mortar security measures from top to bottom—identifying cracks in the
system and providing expert recommendations to ensure internal information
stays internal. Private investigators can also identify potential
whistleblowers in a workforce by examining individual risk factors and patterns
Corporations that have seen a decline in their corporate culture are turning to internal investigation and risk assessment firms for help in 2020. The discourse around corporate culture has evolved significantly over the last few years, with employees voicing their desire for work-life balance and how corporate culture directly impacts their decision to stay with a company. Leadership is better-educating themselves on how their actions feed into the cycle of corporate culture, and how they can improve employee retention by making meaningful changes that grease the wheels of success in their business or organization. However, many corporations have their anxieties about conducting internal investigations in a fishbowl—where employees are able to see the methodology in motion—and how this will impact their workforce and their business.
Corporations can find themselves open to scrutiny from both
their employees and their customer-base when they announce an impending
internal investigation. Some corporations, for a myriad of reasons, opt to have
internal investigations under a cloak of classification in order to protect the
integrity of the investigation—however, in the interest of transparency, many
corporations opt for a visible investigation, warning employees, shareholders,
customers, or all of the above, of an impending internal investigation. This
means that the investigating bodies will be under a microscope of scrutiny
within the corporation, as their methodology, decorum, and their practices will
a source of debate around the proverbial watercooler.
Regardless of who is contracted to conduct the internal
investigation, or under what level of declassification, if there is visibility
of an investigation, there is a delicate balance of transparency and
professionalism needed in pursuit of the truth. One of the most difficult tasks
an internal investigator has at the inception of the investigation is
establishing a rapport with relevant parties, such as leadership and the
workforce in order to garner frankness from persons who will be crucial to the
Investigators must establish credibility with the client and
relevant subjects in the case. This means ensuring those individuals are aware
that the investigator shares their values and is only interested in identifying
problems to improve the business—not damage it—indicating a high level of
accountability that will have a ripple effect throughout the corporation or
In tandem with establishing credibility, investigators must
be straightforward about their objectives, outlining what the client hopes to
achieve and their proposed methods of reaching that goal. Investigators must
never make promises they cannot keep by making declarations before they know
the facts. Corporate investigators must always pursue a resolution to a
business’s problem that does not impair their long-term goals—by the same
token, it is imperative that the investigator informs the client that there
might be some negative consequences as the result of their findings, such as
turnover, further inquiries, or bad publicity.
Objectivity is key in any internal investigation. It’s one of the reasons some companies elect to have a private investigator or risk assessment firm conduct their investigation, as opposed to an in-house investigator or member of house counsel. No employee with a stake in the outcome of the investigation, even indirectly, may be 100% objective in identifying pervasive issues in an organization. In addition to that objectivity, an independent investigator—unknown to the corporation or organization—investigators can move through a workplace undetected. This will take the edge off of the “fishbowl” factor that is common with internal corporate investigations. Private investigators can adopt a persona and conduct their investigations without the eyes of concerned coworkers; interviewing employees, collecting evidence, evaluating the location, and reviewing internal communications can all be conducted in plain sight.
Internal corporate investigations with a “fishbowl” factor can be an inherent challenge for corporations. Above all, it’s important to remember that employees are your greatest asset, as they feed into a cycle of corporate culture that can successfully stimulate your business or organization. An appropriate level of trust and care must always be taken when subjecting your workforce to an internal investigation. When employees feel valued, they will become empowered and engaged to give their best to the benefit of your organization.