Undercover Investigations: What Are You Missing in Your Workplace?

Undercover Investigations: What Are You Missing in Your Workplace?

undercover investigations

Inevitably, certain types of workplace wrongdoing warrant an overt investigation—when it’s in the company’s best interests to take a stance of transparency when taking steps to rectify the issue at hand. But in others instances, keeping your investigation under wraps can ultimately be the only way to mitigate damage, catch wrongdoers in the act, and prevent an escalation of impact to company reputation and financial standing. In these moments, a corporate investigator well versed in launching efficient and sound undercover investigations is the crucial ally you need in your corner. 

When evidence suggests that something nefarious is bubbling under the surface of your organization’s operations, there is always a risk that what you have detected is only the tip of the iceberg. To gain a sense of the scale of the issue, it’s important to recognize that 90% of all significant theft losses within the corporate world come from employees—and that’s only one within a spectrum of immoral activities that could be happening right under your nose.

Factors such as eroded company culture, patterns of workplace theft, malingering, and even catastrophic white collar crime often go undetected by leadership for months until untold damage has been done. The salve to such risks is proactive and discreet action taken at the right time, offering the potential to thwart the misappropriation of company assets and resources. If you find yourself wondering what you are missing in your workplace, Lauth Investigations International is ready to assist.

The Types of Workplace Wrongdoing That Undercover Investigations Bring to Light

Whenever an employer has a clear sense of conduct violations or even criminality taking place under their roof—or simply has a suspicion that all is not as it should be—undercover investigations can reveal far more of what takes place in the workplace than any other form of surveillance. 

A highly trained covert corporate operative will be able to accurately evidence the things that your security systems and CCTV have missed, including issues such as product or property theft, fraud and forgery, idling and malingering, substance-abuse, bullying and discrimination, non-compete violations, safety and security issues, and much more beside. 

A phenomenal amount of evidence gathering can take place with zero disruption to the workplace or any indication to wrongdoers that their actions are being monitored. Once the covert operation is concluded, further formal corporate investigations, disciplinary procedures, and legal action can be taken with confidence that the material evidence is in place to back every step up.

Why Undercover Investigations Are So Effective

Whether an employee’s actions are intentionally criminal or dangerously negligent, an admission of guilt is never something that will simply arrive on your desk. As soon as the individual or individuals in question sense that they are under the microscope, in all likelihood they will quickly rally to cover their tracks. This makes overt corporate investigations a risky pursuit, as HR quickly find themselves running up against dead ends, unable to pinpoint the source of accumulated losses.

In contrast, a covert investigation undertaken with the assistance of undercover investigations specialists from Lauth Investigations International ensures the means to cast a spotlight on the facts before they move forever into the shadows. Whether the result is confirmation of your fears and the opportunity to correct them justly, or the confidence that trust in your team is something that you can afford to indulge, undercover investigations provide ultimate peace of mind. If faith has been compromised at your workplace and you suspect that all is not as it should be, reach out to our team today for tailored advice on the best way to proceed.

How Does Your Online Reputation Reflect Your Corporate Culture?

How Does Your Online Reputation Reflect Your Corporate Culture?

internal corporate investigations

Does your company need to improve online reputation? Are negative reviews popping up over and over again on employment review sites? Are employees routinely making negative posts about their job with your corporation? Answers to these questions in the affirmative could be indicative that your business needs some online reputation management services to improve your image and your relationship with your employees for a happier and healthier workplace.

We already know that corporate culture moves in a cycle—in which those in leadership have the power and ability to invest in the health and happiness of their employees so that they can be more engaged in their work. When corporate culture is poor, the ripple effects throughout a company can be devastating. Pervasive patterns of low employee morale can spread like a disease and cause a significant portion of the workplace to disengage from their duties and drive down the company’s bottom line. Low morale can be caused by things like failure to address persistent problems within daily operations, poor working conditions, or refusal to remove toxic employees from day-to-day life. Whatever the cause, that low morale not only rots your business from within, but can also seep into the nooks and crannies of your marketing campaign in ways you may have never expected.

Reputation management used to be just about television, radio, and print media, but now the rise of the internet and social media has forced employers to rethink how these outlets may impact their business. Social media is used by individuals to stay in touch with others and to cultivate the personality they wish to portray online. Corporations can use these platforms in the same way to maintain contact with their customer base, as well as garner exposure from new users. In this way, they can build rapport with their customer base and inspire confidence in their products or services.

Negative posts from employees can also reflect poorly on your business’s online reputation. Employees who post on their social media about negative experiences they’ve had with their employers have the potential to go viral depending on the content, and soon the entire internet is chatting about it.  Sites like Glassdoor make it possible for current and former employees to share their experiences with the company as an employer. These sites also create a greater degree of transparency regarding a company’s purported vision and how their corporate culture reflects those values.  Negative posts on sites like these can fully deter prospective employees from applying for a position with that company, which is why leadership must be vigilant in monitoring these sites.

Hiring Private Investigators for Insurance Investigations

Hiring Private Investigators for Insurance Investigations

Hiring private investigators for insurance investigations

Private investigators have a cultural reputation for many things—surveillance, infidelity, undercover operations—the exciting things we’re used to seeing in movies and television. Many people are unaware that private investigators also take a huge piece of their corporate pie from insurance investigation. Private investigators use their unique skillsets and experiences to pursue the truth in insurance claims to establish their merit and prevent insurance fraud.

There are many ways to commit insurance fraud. For example, a homeowner might remove property from their home and then report it as stolen. They might deliberately cause damage to their property and then report a freak occurrence, or weather, as the culprit. When a suspect claim comes across a processor’s desk, they can hand it over to a private investigator to perform due-diligence and vet the claim.

Private investigators can use their famed surveillance methodology to track the homeowner to a secure location where “stolen” property is being stored. They could use their access to verified databases to look at an individual’s various histories, such as criminal, transience, and litigation. All relevant information is compiled and generated in the form of a comprehensive report in which the private investigator provides clear recommendations regarding the validity of the claim.

Sometimes insurance companies only want the private investigator to take pictures of an accident site, or an injury, or maybe they just want some spot-check surveillance on an employee claiming worker’s compensation. Another way insurance companies can rely on private investigators is with document review. Private investigators can comb repair receipts, financial records, police reports, and social media for evidence the claim is fraudulent.

Some insurance companies rely on their own internal investigators to vet and process their claims. It may be more cost-effective to keep the investigation in-house, or leadership might be more comfortable using an internal investigator. The inherent problem with any internal investigation is that any investigating agents who have a stake—direct or otherwise—in the insurance company cannot be completely objective. In an industry where litigation is not only possible, but likely, insurers and guarantors of benefits must be sure their investigations are comprehensive and will hold up to scrutiny.

A common unforeseen issue with handling insurance claim investigations internally is that it has the potential to slow down daily operations. Claims gather and bottle-neck at the choke point in the process, causing employees to feel overwhelmed and increasing their margin of error, which may result in more lost time and resources correcting those errors. One of the greatest advantages of hiring a private investigator to vet insurance claims is their valuable autonomy. They have their own databases, their own league of investigators, and their own processes. The investigations process can move quickly because there is very rarely a chain of command and little bureaucracy involved, leading to more closed claims and greater success for the company.

Contracting due-diligence out to private investigators means less stress on internal employees and another layer of credibility for the investigation. Whether as a replacement for an internal team or on a case-by-case basis, private investigators can give insurance providers the valuable information and expertise they need to close cases swiftly and effectively.

Top 5 Private Investigator Cases with Surprise Endings

Top 5 Private Investigator Cases with Surprise Endings

private investigators

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.

Stepping Out?

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.

Seeing Double

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.

Finding Roots

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: 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.

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.