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Archive for January, 2013

Investigations in Family Law Mediation

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The mediation process can be complicated when children are involved. Using a licensed professional private investigator prior to mediation may help the attorney identify issues that might not otherwise surface until court.

Investigations provide key information that can prove invaluable when sitting down to speak with a mediator.  Investigators provide attorney support by delivering the evidence that will help better prepare their client when entering the mediation process.

Here are some key points to consider for your client:

Safe Environment for the children:  Surveillance may pinpoint such issues as neglect, child abuse, drug and alcohol-related problems, as well as established routines.   

Who are the children spending time with?  Background investigations are a key component that may be conducted on individuals spending time with the children, to insure there are no criminal or sexual offenses.  Does the other parent spend time with the children, or do they constantly drop them off at the babysitter’s or a friend’s residence?

Cohabitation: Cohabitation factors into alimony and asset concerns, as well as individuals spending time with the children.

Employment:  Insuring there is a proper support structure means a steady source of income.  Surveillance and background investigations come into play when determining employment.  Are the subject(s) employed?  Are they claiming all their income and assets?

When preparing for mediation, utilizing licensed professional investigators can provide the attorney with an advantage for their client.

Do It Yourself Investigations

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

The latest “fiscal cliff” highlighted just how tight today’s economy really is.  It’s no surprise that people are trying to cut back spending where they can, to include ‘do it yourself’ private investigations.

Here’s why that can end up costing you money, instead of cutting expenses:

1)  Professional private investigators know when to begin a corporate or private investigation.  By the time DIYers think about investigating, it’s almost too late.  If a private investigation is begun at the time the case is opened, there is a vast amount of information that can be gathered.  A DIYer may tip off the subject of the investigation without meaning to, and data under that subject’s control may disappear from view with a changing of privacy settings.  Conversely, if a DIYer begins their private investigation before filing a case, they may learn the hard way about harassment and stalking laws. This is especially true in the realm of surveillance investigations; once the subject of the surveillance is aware they are being watched, it is extremely difficult to obtain helpful data.

2)  Professional private investigators have access to information that the DIYers don’t.  Using the precept of “work smarter, not harder,” skilled private investigators can often pull up basic information on their databases that would take the normal “Googler” an entire day to locate.

3)  Professional private investigators know their way around an investigation.  Although TV and Movie dramas involving crimes, private detectives and intrigue are extremely popular, they don’t explain the steps or the process involved in a private investigation. It would be very easy to miss something in a DIY investigation, or damage your case without realizing it.

4)  Professional private investigators have effective documentation and well written reports at hand.  Why is this important?  If you’re in court and are asked to provide proof of your investigation, are you prepared to provide a professional report?  Will your documentation stand up in court and be entered into evidence?  Professional private investigators routinely provide evidence in a courtroom setting, and are experienced at working together with attorneys.

5)  Professional private investigators know the laws.  Trespassing, invasion of privacy, harassment, stalking…all of these laws are routinely overlooked by people that try to conduct their own private investigation to save money.  Instead, the infractions often cost them their case…and more.  Convictions are rising for people abusing GPS tracking devices; privacy laws regarding emails and social media posts are being scrutinized.  Professional private investigators know it is in their clients’ best interest to remain abreast of current laws, and to insure their work will stand up in court.

6)  Professional private investigators are licensed and carry insurance.  Insurance for private investigations?  Absolutely! 

Although engaging the services of a professional private investigator may seem like a luxury in the beginning, it will save you in time, money and worry.

Social Media Investigations

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Most private investigator agencies provide for a “social networking search” or a “social networking background” of some sort. Usually this is done through a Google search of the person’s name, and some of the more well-known platforms (such as Facebook and Myspace) come up at the top of the list and are ‘searched’. This type of “social networking check” usually takes less than an hour.

For cases involving delicate family law matters, potential fraud, or an insurance defense case with tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of potential exposure, this is clearly insufficient.

API’s Advanced Cyber Profiling Division provides the answer to this potential problem. By delivering a more complete online profile to the attorney, API provides a useful tool to help limit your liability.

Beginning with a public record search as a precursor to an online profile may not seem to be intuitive, but the information discovered in such a search often proves to be invaluable, both on its own and combined with other online sources. Prior accidents, injuries, and arrests all help to form a direction toward other sources of data. Patterns begin to emerge and help to provide a better foundation as to the person’s background.

When people hear the term ‘Social Networking Site’ people generally think of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Myspace or Reunion.com – places on the internet where there are obvious interactions, or are popular, trendy and well-known. Sites that are lesser-known, that have fallen out of the limelight, are older are often overlooked, or simply have not yet gained popularity may contain incredibly valuable information for mining more sources of data.

The term “comprehensive search” in the domain of the Cyber Profile means that the full, complete data discovered will be provided. Instead of a screenshot of the front page of Myspace, for example, we provide the entire public profile view in a format that is acceptable in court.

Not everyone has a large “footprint” on the internet. Where the college student with a prolific interest in video gaming with his friends may have profiles all over the internet, others may have only one or two sites they prefer to visit- and they may use a means of communication that is not readily (or legally) available to the private investigator. A recent study this past summer has revealed that 75% of homeless people utilize at least one social networking site; even such a tiny “footprint” may help provide a direction for further investigations, such as surveillance, asset searches or witness and missing person locates. The sheer number of smartphones, hotspots and free wifi at local coffee shops and other businesses means the possibility of an online presence is greater than ever.

Cyber profiling requires attention to detail, but can provide immensely useful data. There is no “quick social networking search” with a Cyber profile. Each site often provides a small lead that carries the investigator to the next resource. Although it is not a “quick fix,” the data that is uncovered may help resolve a case and save tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run.