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Pre Trial Investigators for Denver and Colorado Wide Cases

March 21st, 2013 • Colorado Private Investigations, Colorado Private Investigator, Denver Private Investigations, Denver Private InvestigatorNo Comments »

You can never have too much information. Wars have been lost for lack of data. Use API’s licensed private investigators as your resource for pre-trial investigations, and don’t risk a lack of details leaving your flank exposed in court. How overworked is your paralegal? How full is your plate? Let us help.

 

Here’s what a Pre-Trial Investigation can provide for you:

 

Witness Identification/Location/Statements – It’s always a race to locate and interview witnesses before the other side finds them. Take these tasks off your to-do list and let our private detectives locate and interview them. That’s one less thing you have to worry about.

 

Public Records and Social Media Investigations – The best time to be informed that someone has a questionable social network account under an alias, owns three prolific businesses, or has had several run-ins with the law is at your desk, not hearing it for the first time in court. Let our professional investigators help you by providing this information early on, so you can build your case armed with this knowledge.

 

Motor Vehicle Records/Registrations – Was the Claimant injured at work, or were they injured in an automobile accident shortly before the claimed injury? Did they have a valid driver’s license at the time of the accident, or was it suspended? Count on our insurance defense investigators to bring the information to the table.

 

Surveillance – Is there an intellectual property dispute? Child Custody/Parental Kidnapping? API employs Colorado’s most skilled surveillance investigators. API will provide you with high-definition, time and date stamped digital video and photo documentation that holds up in court.

 

High-Exposure Insurance Defense Investigations – When there are hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars riding on the outcome of insurance claims, every piece of information is crucial. Bring our insurance claims investigators on early and we can provide you with backgrounds, profiles, records and more.

 

Location Photography/Videography – Premises liability and other insurance defense cases often require photos and video, as well as background information of equipment, weather conditions, lighting and floor surfaces. The earlier our Colorado licensed PI’s are brought on in a case, the better the information we can provide to help you with the case.

 

These are just a few examples of what we can do to assist attorneys, overworked paralegals, insurance adjusters, corporate professionals and more to help win your case.

At Risk Clients and Family Law Investigations

February 16th, 2013 • Colorado Private Investigations, Colorado Private Investigator, Denver Private Investigations, Denver Private InvestigatorNo Comments »

As professional private investigators, at times we are called in to family law cases to determine if the client is secure. Divorce is very emotional and therefore can be volatile by nature. Although many are settled quietly and respectfully, some divorces can bring out behaviors that may put a client at risk.

 

Advanced Professional Investigations has received calls from family law attorneys representing clients that, after years of abuse, the clients finally have the courage to leave the relationship and start proceedings for divorce. Unfortunately, in some of the cases, the potential for escalation and struggle for control may be present. Actions such as harassment, physical and electronic stalking through the use of texts, emails and GPS tracking devices, begin to both appear and increase.

 

One particular case stands out: a woman had endured years of physical and emotional abuse. She had several young children. She did not have the courage to leave the marriage, nor the support of others. The fact that her home was in a very remote area also meant that police response usually took over an hour.

 

Her isolation was an effective barrier to seeking help. The final beating she endured left her unable to walk for several weeks. Her husband was arrested, ordered to leave the house and had a protection order put into place against him; but amazingly enough, was still given visitation rights with the children. Harassment began immediately in the form of phone calls and texts – then through the children, and even through the children’s friends. She was devastated, and was convinced that she would not make it to the court hearing without physical harm.

 

Her attorney hired API, explaining he felt security measures would be appropriate and that she was afraid for her life. From an investigator’s perspective, we first needed to assess her home and neighborhood for risk factors, and check her vehicles for GPS tracking devices.

 

By the time we had been brought on the case, her soon-to-be ex-husband had already broken the protection order several times by showing up at the home, so his disregard for authority needed to be taken into consideration. Leaving the residence was not an option for her at the time.

 

In assessing the risk factors of her residence, we determined an alarm system was needed. We also pointed out the highest risk areas of entry to the home and called in a lock smith to change all of the locks and codes to the garage. As we considered her case to be high-risk, we assigned armed security at her residence 24 hours a day and conducted anti stalking surveillance. Our presence made a statement, and proved to be a deterrent; during the time we were there, he showed up twice. Each time, we immediately contacted the police and documented his presence. We then worked with the Victims Advocate Unit in the area and the police to ensure her safety, until she was escorted by API investigators to court.

 

A great deal of detail has been left out in this retelling. This has been the most extreme case we ever had, causing  API’s investigators many restless nights. Unfortunately, although extreme, the situation itself is not uncommon in divorces.

 

API can help in assessing the possible risk factors to your clients. Our family law investigators will provide expertise, documentation and recommendations, helping you to better assess your client’s needs in a possible at-risk case.

Investigations in Family Law Mediation

January 31st, 2013 • Colorado Private Investigations, Colorado Private Investigator, Denver Private Investigations, Denver Private InvestigatorNo Comments »

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

January 17th, 2013 • Colorado Private Investigations, Colorado Private InvestigatorNo Comments »

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

January 10th, 2013 • Colorado Private Investigations, Colorado Private Investigator, Denver Private Investigations, Denver Private InvestigatorNo Comments »

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.

Continuing Education and the Licensed Investigator

December 25th, 2012 • Colorado Private Investigations, Colorado Private Investigator, Denver Private Investigations, Denver Private InvestigatorNo Comments »

In order to make the most efficient use of time and energy at work, most people in this day and age make use of the latest technology and knowledge. For example, if you’re driving an unfamiliar route, you might make use of a GPS navigation device in your car or on your smartphone instead of stopping at a gas station and asking for directions. You’ve hence adapted to the most recent technological advancements.

Likewise, licensed professional investigators are constantly striving to stay abreast of the latest technologies, trends and legal changes to ensure their efforts are completely lawful and make the most efficient and effective use of time and effort. Both the client and the private investigator are rewarded with the advancement, skills and knowledge earned by continuing education. Are you using a licensed private investigator? To verify if the private investigator you are using is licensed in Colorado, or for more information on Colorado’s PI licensing program, please visit http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?c=Page&childpagename=DORA-Reg%2FDORALayout&cid=1251632358945&pagename=CBONWrapper .  To locate a qualified professional investigator through the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado, please visit http://ppiac.org/find-a-pi .

Statements and Interviews

December 16th, 2012 • Colorado Private Investigations, Colorado Private Investigator, Denver Private Investigations, Denver Private InvestigatorNo Comments »

Interviews, statements and interrogation methods are often glamorously portrayed in today’s media. The popularity of crime dramas and mysteries on television make getting that crucial bit of information a cornerstone to solving the entire case; it is often a tense confrontation that brings the witness to high anxiety levels before they blurt out the truth, and the entire circumstance is resolved before the credits run.

In reality, that’s not quite how it goes.

A statement is taken from the person directly involved in the incident. An interrogation is conducted in pursuit of a criminal case, and often follows a pattern of development for law enforcement to draw out the information from someone reluctant to talk. An interview is more related to a conversation, and may involve witnesses, co-workers, or people only peripherally involved with the subject of the case. There are no pressure tactics, no judgments and no implications. Interviews carry a different social dynamic than interrogations. Interviews are not one-way conversations.

For situations involving fraud, civil cases, accident investigations, workplace injuries and the like, interviews can help to provide a vital piece of the puzzle. Interviews provide information. This information can be the “smoking gun” that you see in TV shows, but more often than not, it leads to other people or events that assist in fleshing out the details. Interviews almost always provide some sort of data that may be used in answering, “What happened?”

In order to conduct an effective interview, the investigator must have an understanding of the case, of the client’s needs, and an understanding of the interviewee. If the investigator is kept in the dark about the case, his or her questions will not be effective, and valuable information pertinent to the case could be overlooked. Understanding the client’s needs is also necessary to maintain the focus of an interview. Understanding the interviewee is important on many levels; the most obvious is that of speaking the same language, both verbal and nonverbal. Spoken language is but a tiny portion of interviews; studies have shown that only 7% of our language is oral. 38% of meaning is conveyed through tone of voice, and 55% is conveyed through body language. An enormous amount of information is expressed through nonverbal means. If the investigator is able to recognize these cues, he or she is able to more effectively communicate with the person they are interviewing.

Finally, it is important for the investigator to know the relationship between the main subject of the case and the person they are interviewing. Psychodynamics is the study of motivations that help steer human behavior. The interview could go in many dramatically different directions if, for example, the person being interviewed was an ex-spouse, or was an employee that was fired by the subject. Understanding motivators during an interview is tremendously helpful for a case.

An effective interview can provide invaluable information for a case. Being able to conduct such an interview requires a skillset that is not immediately recognizable, but can help to fit that last puzzle piece in place for the client.

 

GPS Tracking in Colorado

November 25th, 2012 • Colorado Private Investigations, Colorado Private Investigator, Denver Private Investigations, Denver Private InvestigatorNo Comments »
Advanced Professional Investigations has cautioned against the misuse of GPS tracking technology for years. Why is GPS tracking technology such a grey area for the typical consumer as well as for private investigators in Colorado? API has compiled some recent news articles on GPS trackers and high tech stalking.
 
In this first article, a journalist contacted several California private investigators under a pretext to see if they offered GPS tracking services. The initial responses of the PI’s were disturbing. The journalist likely chose California because of their strict laws on GPS tracking.
http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2012/11/gps_trackers_to_monitor_cheating_spouses_a_legal_gray_area_for_private_investigators.html
 
This next article talks about how stalkers are going high tech to do their dirty deeds. Please note the statistics compiled in a study of how victims are being stalked. The video/digital camera statistic is particularly alarming. The GPS tracking statistic has likely gone up several fold since this study. Over the years, our agency has received many phone calls from individuals whose intent was suspect. Private investigators can never be too careful in screening those cases.
http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20121113/NEWS/211130335
 
Of course, like any technology or piece of equipment, there are some perfectly legitimate uses and not everything is for malicious purposes. Here’s a couple of articles that highlight those uses. The second article shows how one Minnesota county is turning the use of GPS tracking against the stalkers. As the use of GPS tracking and other investigative technology expands, API and other professional private investigators will potentially take on the role of educators for the public, and perhaps providing consultations on the proper use of the technology.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/25/garden/tracking-family-with-gps-dont-forget-the-dog.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&
http://www.startribune.com/176700931.html?refer=y

The Importance of Private Investigator Conferences

November 13th, 2012 • Colorado Private Investigations, Colorado Private Investigator, Denver Private Investigations, Denver Private InvestigatorNo Comments »

The Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado recently hosted the annual Conference as well as a Private Investigator Core Curriculum day. At these two events, I referred to a recent New York Times article which points out that professionals in different fields and industries are realizing the need to constantly adapt, to retool, and to train to remain competitive in their fields. Workers and business professionals alike are having to figure out what new skills will make them move valuable or simply keep them from obsolescence. The article went on to explain how being a generalist is unwise, and why workers should strive to cross train.With that in mind, PPIAC held topics and presentations at the PICC and Conference designed to provide investigators with current investigative trends, techniques, and specialized training.

The Conference included an investigator ethics presentation which had an electronic instant polling questionnaire. The wide variety of answers at the beginning of the presentation proved to be an eye opening experience for attendees. However, towards the end of the presentation, the answers became much more consistent among the attendees. The conference also included presentations on social media, homicides, concealed carry, death and injury causation, e-evidence retention, vehicular accident investigations, a panel discussion, self publishing, and inmate interviews. The vendors provided some excellent profession-specific products and services. The keynote speaker provided a loose, lively presentation on the history and progress of Westword magazine. I thank all the conference sponsors, vendors, notebook advertisers, material/prize donors, attendees, and last but not least, the presenters who helped make this conference a success.
 
While at the conference, I had the privilege of presenting this year’s Lifetime Membership Award to Dean Beers for his outstanding contributions to PPIAC. From his Board contributions as the VP of Membership, to Board Chairman, as well as his contributions to the PI licensing effort, to his well attended and received presentations at PPIAC monthly meetings and conferences, the Board had an easy decision in approving Dean for this well-deserved award.
  
The details for the PPIAC Holiday party have been finalized! This year PPIAC will be holding the party on December 15th from 6-9 p.m. at Water 2 Wine located at 9608 E. Arapahoe Road, Greenwood Village, CO 80112. Water 2 Wine will be offering a cash bar with any glass of wine from their menu at $5/glass. Parking is free with easy access off I-25. There will be food catered by the Food Guy Catering. In order to plan for the food catering, entrance to the Holiday party will be limited to PPIAC members and 1 guest only, and RSVP’s are REQUIRED. Here is the website link to Water 2 Wine: http://www.water2wine.com/dtc/
 
Are you a private investigator and not a member of PPIAC? Contact PPIAC and apply for membership TODAY to take advantage of the great benefits PPIAC offers to its members! Here is the website for more information: http://ppiac.org

Responsible Locate Investigations

November 4th, 2012 • Colorado Private Investigations, Colorado Private Investigator, Denver Private Investigations, Denver Private InvestigatorNo Comments »

As professional private investigators we receive many requests to locate individuals. Over the years I’ve received requests to locate old college roommates, adoptees looking for birth parents, witnesses, beneficiaries, war veterans looking to be reunited with their fellow servicemen and friends and family members that have lost touch with one another. Although it may give us a warm, fuzzy feeling to be part of a joyous reunion we should always keep in mind the possibility of a worse case scenario such as those unwilling to be found. In my experience, approximately 70% of individuals fall into this category. Our office’s policy is not to report information about such individuals without their permission. Two exceptions are attorney-requested witness locates and skip trace information – both of which have a legal basis for the relinquishing of information.

It’s the investigator’s duty to conduct these searches responsibly and keep in mind that there is a reason contact was lost and perhaps it was the choice of the person being sought. For example, adoptees may have a romantic idea of learning where they came from, envisioning a joyful, teary reunion, but the reality is that it may have been a traumatic event resulting in shame and secrets for the birth parent and might disrupt a current household and family. And your client may not be forthright with the entire truth, either. The man looking for his long lost son due to a bitter divorce may have actually been the abuser and unreported domestic violence was the reason they lost touch. The brother that says he wants nothing more than to be reunited with his sibling after 25 years, may be omitting that there were undisclosed psychological and physical assault issues that left that sibling afraid and forced him to go into hiding. These are all real life cases I’ve encountered over the years that repeatedly reinforce our policies. It is the private investigator’s responsibility to conduct due diligence on these, as on all cases. Ask for supporting documents. Is the person truly behind in child support? Is there a judgment or court case involved? Don’t just take your client’s word as gospel. The “truth” can be tricky and the perception of it may vary from that of another person in a story.

Let the other 30%, the subject being sought, give you that all-too rare career high in a business that is by nature serious and often cynical: the war veteran revisiting those he fought alongside; a parent being reunited with a kidnapped child; the high school sweethearts who lost touch for decades. There is a personal side to what we do.

Our ability as investigators to find people can make a difference in someone’s life. It’s critical to remember that it may be good or bad and could potentially create liability if not handled correctly.

This article was published in Pursuit Magazine at http://pursuitmag.com/responsible-locate-investigations-by-private-investigators/