White House proposal may create independent corporate investigation opportunity

White House proposal may create independent corporate investigation opportunity

When gaps appear in corporate accountability, can private investigators step up to conduct an independent corporate investigation?

white house announces plans to restrict corporate oversight

The White House reported last week that it will be taking steps towards minimizing investigations into corporate misconduct and reducing a government agency’s ability to open more than one probe into a single company concurrently. While independent agencies such as the Federal Reserve, Securities and Exchange Commission, or the Federal Communications Commission, those agencies might still be susceptible to enforcement by an executive order from the president.

A spokesperson for the White House budget office, an umbrella for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, has declared on behalf of the proposed action that “These principles protect both individuals and small businesses while at the same time enforcing the law against wrongdoers. Providing a fair process of all Americans is what’s at the heart of this executive order.”

While it’s true that a corporate investigation can consequently devastate a small company, the entities that will receive the most protection under this proposed action would be larger businesses and Fortune 500 companies. Corporations of all sizes can always benefit from an independent corporate investigation conducted by an objective third-party. In pursuit of truth, independent or private investigators can illuminate the unseen machinations of any corporate investigation. Regardless of the intention of the proposed action, one of the ultimate consequences is that there will be less corporate oversight throughout the United States, allowing pervasive issues to continue harming the corporation or organization from within.  As employees, upper management, and consumers alike demand investigation and/or accountability for the wrongdoings in any given corporation or organization, there will be an intelligence vacuum, in which private investigators can use their skillsets to bring context to complex corporate investigations.

This proposed action may potentially protect businesses from malicious litigation or malicious whistleblowing, but it also erodes the voices of employees and consumers with legitimate concerns who cannot be heard otherwise. One of the greatest benefits of government oversight into any matter is that the government has the most resources and financial support available to properly regulate and enforce policy. Restricting the government’s ability to investigate internal issues that are impacting the workforce or the public means that pervasive issues will easily slip through the cracks and continue to inflict varying degrees of harm. The only recourse an employee or consumer might have at that point is an independent corporate investigation.

An independent corporate investigation is best conducted by a person who is not in any way associated with the corporation in question. While risk assessment firms are also known for conducting similar independent corporate investigations, private investigators are another type of professional who might be able to get answers in times of corporate crisis. Private investigators can diversify their services to meet a variety of intelligence needs, and some private investigators choose to specialize in only a handful of investigation types. Whether the private investigator diversifies or specializes, many private investigators may be missing out on opportunities to apply their investigative knowledge to corporate investigations in a way that can improve businesses from within to better their local economy, and affect change for larger corporations with a national reach.

Through their licensure by the state(s) where a private investigator practices, they have access to a wealth of information through verified databases similar to those used by law enforcement every day. Private investigators can use only a few details about a subject or subjects to generate a full background check on an individual or a corporate entity in order to have all the facts relevant to the case. For an independent corporate investigation, a private investigator can view items on employees and consumers such as criminal history, address history, credit history, and litigation history, and contextualize those items for the investigation. Through these databases, private investigators can also look up information about a corporate entity and garner relevant facts regarding its past actions, behaviors, and litigation.

Two of a private investigator’s most prolific and well-known talents are surveillance and undercover operations. When it comes to an independent corporate investigation, the ability to operate under the radar is crucial. In pursuit of truth, subjects in these type of investigations must not be aware they’re being watched. A private investigator knows how to blend in with a crowd or become part of the background of day-to-day life. Private investigators can wire themselves with surveillance technology, and seamlessly assimilate into a workplace in order to document daily internal operations. They can speak with witnesses and develop a rapport that ingratiates the witness to reveal relevant information. Through these intelligence operations, the private investigator is able to objectively document subjects in the work environment.

Because private investigators are typically independent from any law firm or government agency, their fact-finding also carries some additional transparency that is invaluable in an independent corporate investigation. This reduces the impact of any “they-said-they-said” narrative introduced by counsel in any consequential litigation. With even less government oversight on corporations in the United States, private investigators are ideal professionals to bring crucial context to the unheard problems within their structure.

Private investigators by their very nature have a proclivity for transparency and problem-solving. As the old adage goes, “knowledge is power.” Through private intelligence, private investigators can bring light to malignant situations that rot corporate culture and hurt public relations. In pursuit of the truth, they apply their methodology to multi-faceted, complex situations to get answers for their clients. Private investigators who do not currently offer corporate investigation services might be missing out on opportunities to expand their professional network and apply their services in new ways. Even small firms or singular private investigators contracting their services could apply fact-finding, surveillance, and undercover operations to investigate corporate misconduct. In this way, private investigators can fill in the gaps that can occur in corporate oversight and accountability.

The private investigators at Lauth Investigations International are dedicated to providing our clients to make empowered decisions in a complex business world. Our diverse list of intelligence services can be designed to fit the investigative needs of our clients. Call 317-951-1100 or visit us online at lauthinvestigations.com.

5 Misconceptions and Limitations of Private Investigators

5 Misconceptions and Limitations of Private Investigators

Mainstream media has done a fantastic job of skewing the public’s view of private investigators to be something that it’s not. Specifically, TV-shows and movies portray private investigators as people who are not bound by the same laws as everyone else. Here are some of the popular misconceptions about private investigators:

Misconceptions about Private Investigators

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  1. Private investigators can’t make arrests.

It is a common perception that private investigators function similarly to the police. However, private investigators are not permitted to make arrests unless they are in a state where a citizen’s arrest is legal. Even then, specific circumstances must be met and it is more probable that a private investigator would contact the police if they felt an arrest was warranted.

  1. They can’t check someone’s financial records.

Private investigators have several tools at their disposal but access to financial records is not one of them. Bank account information falls under private property and cannot be accessed without the appropriate approval from a court.

  1. They can’t tap phone conversations.

This is another instance where a private investigator is bound by the law. Private phone conversations are still protected property and it is illegal for anyone to tap a phone without permission from a court. This also applies to recording any kind of conversation without the subjects being aware.

  1. They put together background reports on people that contain private information.

This misconception is derived from the background reports people purchase online. The information in these reports, however, consist of public information and are usually generated by an automated system. You can often find the same information online yourself without paying a fee for it.

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  1. They can’t access someone’s credit information.

Laws in the United States have made it exceptionally difficult to obtain an individual’s credit information. A private investigator is bound by the same laws and cannot legally obtain someone’s credit information without telling them first.

Now that you know a little more about the misconceptions of private investigators, let’s talk about how they can actually be of help. The advantage of a private investigator is that they can tell you where to find information that will bolster your case. They can also compile useful information that might be difficult to obtain on your own. If you decide to hire a private investigator, be sure to get complete documentation of the services they provide.

Feel you have a case? Feel free to contact us to see how we can help.

Conduct Due Diligence for Corporate Merging

Why You Should Conduct Due Diligence for Corporate Merging or Acquisition of Another Company?

Indianapolis Private Investigator, Lauth Investigations can assist companies with the merger and acquisition due diligence process.

Just like you would do a background check on a potential employee, it is also important to do a comprehensive due diligence check on another company that you are considering merging or acquiring. While a business deal may seem lucrative and advantageous on the surface, complex and devastating problems could be lurking below the surface. By determining a potential company’s background and assets, you will be preventing business disasters by determining the factual background of a company as well as lowering the risk of crime within the business.

While Michael Sisco may be describing due diligence as related to technology, he still has several key concepts that every business may consider which follow as:

  • Stability
  • Financial cost trends
  • Individual “flight risks”
  • Business continuity issues
  • Key players (2)

What exactly is involved in the due diligence process? First of all, a confidentiality agreement is requested from the seller by the buyer. This is basically an agreement to gain the knowledge about EVERY aspect of the business before you make an agreement with the seller. If you do not make an offer in the end, this agreement ensures you will keep all information confidential. The following is a list of items that are typical in a confidentiality agreement:

  • Financials–3 years of financials is typical
  • Employees–title, wage, duties
  • Vendors—relationship with company
  • Inventory
  • Equipment
  • Furniture and fixtures
  • Debts—It is vital you understand if you are acquiring any debt, and if so, how much

Due diligence also involves a review period, which can be agreed upon, and three critical issues are explored during this time period. Legal due diligence is important to determine if the seller has the title to sell the company which is essential if the seller is part of a franchise. The financial due diligence portion can determine if there are hidden assets or financial issues that need to be addressed. Commercial due diligence will determine the competition of the business as well as how the market views the business. If everything goes well and you decide to buy the business, consult someone to write a buy/sell agreement. (3)

Other key ideas to keep in mind: “Capital—If you have leftover capital, use it wisely, and don’t overspend. Employees—Review all employees again. Fire the ones that have red flags or hire new ones if they current employees are doing their job. Inventory and Equipment—Be frugal. Upgrade instead of buy brand new equipment.”

Keep in mind to not rely on verbal statements. Stick to the confidentiality agreement. If the seller is not divulging all information, there is probably a (shady) reason so look into a new seller. Do not try to conduct due diligence on your own, and do not neglect the due diligence process. It could end in disaster. (3)

The lack of due diligence can have significant unforeseen financial consequences. For example, the Victorian Funds Management Corporation lost $500 million dollars due to lack of due diligence and relied only on Google searches. Their choice in pursuing death funds by Life Settlements Whole Funds turned out to be a financial disaster. Instead of taking the time to properly check out the deal and listen to regulators who cautioned against it, they went through with the merger. If they would have performed due diligence, they would not have been discredited or have suffered such a substantial financial setback. (4)

Remember, when you merge with another company or acquire their company, THEIR problems become YOUR problems. These problems can be as minor as inflated labor costs or as disastrous as embezzling corporate funding. The solution to this potential risk is to ensure you conduct proper due diligence before you partner with another company. You wouldn’t want their mistakes to become the failure of your company. The positive aspect is that by acquiring or merging with another company can lead to more success for your business if the background check is conducted properly.

About the Author: Kym L. Pasqualini is founder of the Nation’s Missing Children Organization in 1994 and the National Center for Missing Adults in 2000. Kym is an expert in the field of missing persons and continues to advocate for crime victims utilizing 20 years’ experience working with government officials, law enforcement, advocates, private investigators, and national media.

Computer and Cellular Forensics.

Computer forensics remains a growing field in private investigations. Sometimes referred to as computer forensic science, private investigators specialized in computer forensics, may be hired by private individuals and major corporations to securely collect data, examining and preserving the contents of the computer, cellular or storage device, and assist with investigations from pornography detection to corporate espionage. Law enforcement detectives and private investigators are a very specialized group of professionals with the ability to recover, analyze, and present their findings and opinions in a court of law. Many serve as expert witnesses in court trials.

Considered a branch of digital forensic science, the search of computers and other devices commonly refers to legal evidence presented in a court of law. There is a wide range of serious computer crimes that have emerged since the early 1980s such as fraud, the exchange of child pornography, cyber-stalking and more recently ‘hacking’ that created the necessity for this specialized group of detectives.

Forensic science used in computer investigations in civil proceedings is now termed ‘electronic discovery’ and is another form of information gathering. Through use of computer forensics, information referred to as ‘digital artifacts,’ such as an electronic document, email, and images are is gathered, identified, preserved, extracted, analyzed, documented and then interpreted using forensic methodology.

One of the most famous cases in history solved by the use of computer forensics was the feared “BTK Killer’ in Wichita, Kansas. From 1974 until 1991, a string of murders had occurred that cost millions and thousands of police man-hours to investigate but remained unsolved for over thirty years.

The investigation into the murders of four members of the Otero family began on January 15, 1974. Joseph Otero Jr., 38, his wife Julie, 34 and their two children, Josie, 11, and Joey, 9, were found murdered inside their home. The couple had three other children that were not home at the time of the homicides.

Police did not know it at the time but Dennis Rader, who claims he had been depressed after a lay-off at work, began searching for his first of ten victims. He spotted Julie and her daughter, Josie and followed them to school one morning. Raider regularly had thoughts of sexual bondage and approximately two months later, he decided to act upon his twisted thoughts with the intention of fulfilling his sexual fantasies by attacking the mother and young daughter.

With his parka filled with weapons and bindings, he headed to the Otero home and cut the phone lives before entering. Rader had not planned on the father or son being home when he entered the Otero residence so he ordered all to lie on the floor at gunpoint. He placed plastic bag over Joseph’s head killing the father first, and proceeded to strangle Julie with a rope in front of her children. Next, Rader sat in a chair and watched on as little Joey thrashed around while he slowly suffocated to death.

Josie he took to the basement where he already had a rope hanging from the ceiling where he hung the little girl, her little toes barely touching the floor. Julie’s body was found hanging from a noose tied to a sewer pipe with panties pulled down and semen traces on her body. Her siblings, Carmen, 13, and Charlie, 15, were the ones to discover their parents and younger brother and sisters bodies.

Three months later, Rader attacked a brother and sister, Kathryn Bright, 21, and her younger brother Kevin, 19, in their home. While forcing Kevin to tie up his sister, both put up a fight and Rader shot Kevin two times with a .22 caliber, once in the head. Rader then attempted to strangle Kathryn but ended up stabbing her with a knife and left her for dead. Departing the residence, Rader saw Kevin fleeing, running down the street. Kevin was the only one of Rader’s victims known to survive.

Over the next fifteen years, Rader killed five more victims. During this time, Rader also taunted investigators with notes, poems, puzzles, and pictures; even naming himself ‘BTK’ for Bind, Torture, Kill. Then ten years went by with no communication until police received a 3.5 floppy disk with a Word document in 2004.

Computer forensics broke the case. Investigators were able to find a document on the disk that had been deleted but contained metadata indicating someone by the name of Dennis at Christ Lutheran Church has modified the document. Looking on the church website police quickly found Dennis Rader served as president of the church council. After thirty years, it only took forensic computer investigators a couple hours to break the base.

Thomas Lauth, private investigator and owner of Lauth Investigations, with headquarters in Indianapolis, IN also has offices in Colorado and Arizona. An experienced private detective, he has spent years working all kinds of investigations but credits computer forensics as one of the most effective ways to delve into a person’s activities, even if the individual has gone to great lengths to cover their tracks. “Spending twenty years as a PI, I have seen incredible advancements in technology and computer forensics allowing police and those of us working in private investigations solve more and more crimes,”says Lauth. “Using computer forensics, we are able to examine computers, cell phones, web chats, and various other Internet activities contributing to helping solve everything from missing person case to corporate fraud and forgery.”

About the Author: Kym L. Pasqualini is founder of the Nation’s Missing Children Organization in 1994 and the National Center for Missing Adults in 2000. Kym is an expert in the field of missing persons and continues to advocate for crime victims utilizing 20 years’ experience working with government officials, law enforcement, advocates, private investigators, and national media.

Private Investigators – The Sherlock Holmes of today.

Due to blockbuster movies, books and television shows people may have a notion that private investigators sit in their smoke filled offices smoking a pipe while hired by some jilted homemaker to follow around her cheating husband. While investigators do follow cheating spouses, the world of private investigation has expanded beyond our wildest dreams with use of new methods of investigation and ever enhanced technology. Private investigators have existed for over 150 years. In 1850, Allan Pinkerton founded Pinkerton National Detective Agency in France. Eventually it became the most recognized private investigation firm in the United States, even coining the term private eye.

Private investigators of today are creative and masterful in their investigative techniques whether investigating a murder, searching for a missing person, tracking down art thieves, corporate investigations that can include everything from employee background checks to financial and insurance fraud. In essence, the private detectives of today are responsible for ensuring the quality of the workforce today. They can provide clients with background information about a person or corporation.

Instead of smoking a pipe and lurking in the shadows, the private detective of today may be a master at Yoga, sipping on green tea while sitting in his vehicle providing surveillance on a Fortune 500 company employee suspected of embezzlement. Similar to sworn officers, many private investigators are experts in their fields as well as track down witnesses in a homicide case to unearth new information in order to provide a family with justice. They may be infiltrating the child sex trafficking rings to rescue children or making a buy of stolen jewelry from an international crime ring.

Not always the most glamorous job, but the investigators of today possess skills that make them masters in their trade. Gathering and analyzing information, private investigators know where to go to obtain the most up to date and accurate information on subjects of interest. Their findings and expert testimony can make or break a court case. Whether they are on a fact finding mission, verifying an identity, generating new leads on a cold case, tailing a person of interest with GPS, or taking baby diapers out of trashcans to obtain DNA for the subject of a paternity test the new age private eyes are masters of their universe.

About the Author: Kym L. Pasqualini is founder of the Nationals Missing Children Organization in 1994 and the National Center for Missing Adults in 2000. Kym is an expert in the field of missing persons and continues to advocate for crime victims utilizing 20 years’ experience working with government officials, law enforcement, advocates, private investigators, and national media.

When is GPS a legal tool to use in private investigations?

Thomas Lauth, a private investigator, and owner of Lauth Investigations International provides private investigations services throughout the country with offices in Denver, Phoenix, and headquarters in Indianapolis, IN. When working in various states a private detective must remain knowledgeable of state laws in order to provide services that stay within parameters of state law and best serve the client. “Many private investigators find themselves in trouble and can compromise a case if they do not remain in compliance with state regulations, says Lauth. It is our duty to remain in compliance with local, state, and federal law to best serve and protect the client.State laws regulating the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) varies from state to state. Even law enforcement officials must adhere to state laws. GPS had been traditionally used by hikers, campers, hunters, aircraft, and in the military to navigate and maintain coordinates. GPS devices receive signals from satellites orbiting the earth and provide precise positioning using the Earth’s longitude and latitude.

A groundbreaking investigation of a missing child case in the late 1990’s may have been the catalyst for using GPS as an investigative tool for both law enforcement and private investigators. October 1999, nine-year-old Valerie Jackson vanished from her home in Spokane, WA. Police found bloodstains on the missing child’s bed and on her father, Brad Jackson’s shoes. The father of the missing third grader was an immediate suspect in the police investigation.

Police obtained warrants to search Jackson’s vehicles and returned them to Jackson with hidden GPS devices attached. Using satellite technology police then monitored Jackson for the next eighteen days. In November, when police went to the GPS coordinates that had tracked Jackson’s every move, they discovered two grave sites. At one location, they found an empty gravesite approximately 10 miles from the family’s residence. The second location approximately 50 miles northwest of Spokane they found a second gravesite containing Valerie’s remains.

By utilizing GPS surveillance, police were able to provide information to the prosecution indicating Jackson had murdered Valerie, buried her at one location, then exhumed her body and reburied her in a remote site further away. Police charged Jackson with first-degree murder of his daughter. Utilizing GPS in an investigation by law enforcement and private investigators and the potential of misuse violating individual’s constitutional rights has raised some issues. How far can one go to solve a case?

Colorado law specifies use of GPS and other surveillance tools to track a person or vehicle can be used as long as the purpose for using the tracking technology is legal. For example, many companies utilize GPS on company vehicles to ensure the employee is not using the vehicle for personal use. It is commonplace in the trucking industry. However, a spouse placing a GPS device to track their partner’s activities is considered illegal and constitutes stalking if the device is placed on the other person’s vehicle without their knowledge or consent.

In February 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court (U.S. vs. Jones), unanimously voted that even police must obtain a search warrant before using GPS to track criminal suspects in Arizona and throughout the country. Antoine Jones was suspected in drug trafficking and police obtained a warrant and tracked his activity for 28 days. Using GPS, authorities were able to locate the location where they found $850,000 in cash, 97 kilograms of cocaine, and 1 kilogram of crack stashed away in the suburban home. Jones was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for drug-related charges. Later, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his conviction in a landmark decision based upon the fact the warrant police used had expired.

Two major issues were a factor in the U.S. Supreme Court decision. First, it was determined authorities violated the Fourth Amendment, that guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, paper, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. They determined the installation of GPS tracking technology constituted an illegal “search” because authorities were physically occupying a private property for the purpose of obtaining information.

Second, judges analyzed the individual’s right to privacy and sustained tracking. While limited tracking may be permissible, long-term tracking was determined technical trespass. Justice Sotomayor wrote, “It may be necessary to reconsider the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties. This approach is ill-suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks. People disclose the phone numbers that they dial or text to their cellular providers; the URLs that they visit and the e-mail addresses with which they correspond to their Internet service providers; and the books, groceries, and medications they purchase to online retailers.”

“While GPS can be an incredible investigative tool, there is a fine line between intrusion and privacy that every private investigator must adhere to,” Lauth says. Whether you are an Indiana PI, Colorado PI, Arizona PI or Timbuktu we all must adhere to standards that protect the citizen and serve our clients.

About the Author: Kym L. Pasqualini is the founder of the National Missing Children Organization in 1994 and the National Center for Missing Adults in 2000. Kym is an expert in the field of missing persons and continues to advocate for crime victims utilizing 20 years experience working with government officials, law enforcement, advocates, private investigators, and national media.