How Private Investigators Interview to find “Bad Guys”

How many companies with security problems use their own internal resources to investigate employee theft, industrial espionage, etc. ?  I think the answer would probably be; “the majority”. 

HR Departments have traditionally been the ”go to” people within corporations to conduct interviews.  Proprietory security personnel have also been used for these tasks. My question is; “what specialized training or experience have these folks received that equips them for such roles? 

Having conducted interviews totalling in the thousands around the world, I can share with you that it takes many years and probably thousands of hours of interviewing to develop not only a certain comfort level, but the ability to be able to pick up on things like eye movement, breathing, body shifting, hesitation, etc. 

What experienced investigators know is that simply talking to a person and taking notes is not enough.  The interview process begins way before that.  A good investigator will conduct research and prepare questions before the interview ever begins.  They know that there are a number of important factors to consider, such as planning on where the interviewee will sit.  Have you previously considered this?

Some other questions to consider are; “do I know the right questions to ask?”, ”what are the signs of stress?”, “how can I make a person tell me what I need to know?”, “how do I follow-up?”.  Unfortunately, you won’t find all the answers you need in a blog or a book.  It takes time, training and putting that training into practice. 

Corporations should not feel like they have to “do it all”.  In-house security personnel may be quite capable of taking care of many of the day-t0-day security tasks that arise, but they probably should not be asked to conduct investigations involving employee theft, sexual harrassment, workman’s comp, fraud cases etc., where extensive interviewing is needed. 

Credentialed and experienced professionals can not only save a company millions of dollars in lost revenue and or litigation/law suits, but protect their reputation from being tarnished and damaged.  The question then becomes; “what value do you put on your reputation?”. 

How well do you know your babysitter?

If someone else other than your mother takes care of your children when you work, the question you need to be asking is; “how well do I really know that person?”

For instance, how many parents ask for a babysitter’s driving record? Our survey suggests that not many do. If the babysitter is tasked with picking up/dropping off a child to and from school, wouldn’t it seem like a good idea to know if they have a history of speeding, have been charged with reckless driving or even have insurance?

The Linkedin Investigator marketing group reposted a story written by Basil Katz for Reuters in which two background investigators talk about the steps they take to check out a nanny for families. We have also been hired to do this, but it is strange that clients appear to be more concerned about checking out a new hire than the person entrusted with their own children.

As far as I am concerned, parents should be far more concerned about doing a nanny/babysitter/au pair check than a CEO when bringing on new staff. An employee can do things which are prohibited; waste time on the internet, call in sick when they aren’t, steal, etc. Have you ever stopped to think what an unethical/criminal child minder could do?

That is why the “nanny cam” industry has been exploding. If parents could rely on those who take care of their children, there would not be a need for so many hidden cameras in smoke detectors, wall clocks and inside teddy bears. Even if you don’t think your babysitter could hurt or neglect your child, what do you know about her boyfriend? How do you know he doesn’t come around when you have left?

If you are a parent and reading this, it is not meant to scare you, but to make you think and look beyond what appears to be for what could be. I have conducted thousands of investigative interviews and I can assure you that people don’t give reference names of those they think will say something bad about them.

If you are an investigator reading this, pay extra attention when conducting background checks on these types of job applicants. Experienced investigators will know the questions to ask to get the information they need to find people who aren’t “staged”.

Parents or investigators should never cut corners when finding out about potential child care applicants. Spend longer and look deeper. The children deserve it.

Trusted employees caught stealing from employers

The attached article from the Wall Street Journal on employee theft in the workplace is a good reminder that often those who are least suspected of theft are using that to their advantage.

This in itself is nothing new, although some of you who are operating your own security companies may very well come across clients who do not yet realize that this does occur across the board.

Unfortunately, the smaller companies experience the greatest losses. Ironically, they are the least well equipped to take a loss and continue in business – depending on the size of the loss/losses.

Keep in mind that a rise in employee theft could very well be a by-product of this poor economy. The attached article quotes a victim as saying she did not bother doing a background check. That should always be step number 1. A con artist can dress up in a suit and say the right things to get hired. Unfortunately that method often works.

Clients should be careful about how they handle a suspected in-house thief. Tolerating it and hoping that they stop, is not a solution. It might sound silly, but there are employers out there who suspect an employee and have heard rumors for years, but they prefer not to believe it.

The article speaks of the Police conducting an undercover investigation over a $1200 theft. In my experience, it is rare for the Police to get involved in a theft of this amount. Most often, the employer will have to hire a Private Investigation firm and have an undercover investigator conduct the investigation.

Once the evidence has been obtained, it will be up to the employer/business owner if they wish to pursue the matter by reporting the results to the Police or if they use the evidence to get rid of the culprit. As long as a professional investigation has been conducted by a legally registered firm and P.I., the Police can proceed with a prosecution.

Either way, a message has been sent out to the other employees that internal theft will not be tolerated.

Do you have what it takes to be a Private Investigator?

Time is running out for those considering a career as a Private Investigator.
We have had more than 100 people looking to be trained as Private Investigators by Sexton Executive Security.

Those who have been accepted into the program come from throughout Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., New York and overseas. Like us, they realize that the field of security offers a level of job security that is next to impossible to find in today’s worsening economic times.

The worse times become, the more theft, embezzlement, employment fraud, workman’s compensation cases will surface. That in turn means more work and more money for trained P.I.s.

I am glad to report that women are finally seeing the great opportunity for them as private investigators. We (and many other companies) have need for Nothern Virginia investigators, Maryland investigators, D.C. investigators and even International investigators.

Unfortunately, if you are thinking of signing up for our last P.I. training course (certified by DCJS)of the year, you will have to settle for having your name placed on the “stand-by” list as the industrious applicants have taken all of the seats already.

It’s a case of “the early bird catches the worm”, or more realistically; “the early to regisiter receives first class training and receives the coveted “SEXTON” stamp of approval!

Workplace Violence is more of a concern with companies than Terrorism

We’ve said it here before – violence in the workplace – often resulting in death, is one of the main concerns facing U.S. businesses every year.

While terrorism is something that is never too far from our minds these days, most companies are far more likely to experience a workplace violence incident than a terrorist attack.

This is further reinforced by an article in which a senior accounts manager for a defense and Security Solutions company states that W.P.V. concerns far outweigh and is more prevalent than threats of terrorism.

Another interesting point raised is that relating to background checks. While the majority of companies do conduct background checks (around 65%, which means that many still do not), less than 5% conduct any periodic check once the employee has been hired.

If no further checking is hardly ever carried out, that means that 95% of companies are leaving it up to the employee to tell them when they have been arrested or served with a restraining order. I am hoping that when business owners see this in print, they will realize how bad that sounds.

How many spouses/significant others could be expected to come into work on Monday morning and inform the HR Dept., that they spent the weekend in jail for beating their mate? Or that they have been charged with possessing narcotics with the intent to distribute?

About 2 years ago we were called in by a Govt. contractor to prevent workplace violence from occurring when they fired an employee who had been charged by the Police for operating a Meth Lab on his off-hours. Thankfully a corporate investigator discovered the case and when they checked into the employee more fully, also discovered that he had been stealing company supplies and selling them on E-Bay.

It’s wise to think about terrorism, but don’t forget to look for problems that may be lurking right under your nose.

Do you know who your employees are?

Do you really?

The Financial Times in London ran an article which illustrates the risks posed by disgruntled IT professionals. According to a recent survey, 88% of redundant IT administrators claimed they would steal valuable and sensitive information from their company if they were ever fired.

A real-life example of this is the systems administrator with the Dept. of Technology who earlier this year created a password which locked officials out of the network because he feared he was losing his job.

While it is very difficult to know if an employee is thinking this way, proper background checking and screening would likely discover if they ever did anything like this to a previous employer.

When a termination is imminent, employers should close all of the employee’s accounts and recover devices such as Blackberries, laptops, elctronic key cards and I.D. When we are called in to assist with terminations, we always advise emloyers and supervisors of the need to do this.

Surprisingly, many employers are not in a rush to get back laptops and other devices as they fear “upsetting” the termianted employee. If this is the case, turn over the responsibility to a professional outsourced security consultant who can take care of these duties and the company does not have to worry about being right in the “middle” of the process.

Many employees will be terminated in ’09

We all know the economy is bad, but it really sinks home when you hear those big numbers.

I was watching CNN yesterday and was quite surprised to learn that 25% of all U.S. employers are planning to lay-off employees in the New Year. That is a lot of workers who will be out of work in the coming months.

Companies like American Express are not even waiting until the New Year. They announced today that they are laying-off 7,000 employees – 10% of their workforce. Executive Protection companies like ours will be in high demand in the coming months (and maybe years)due to fears of workplace violence. We are already planning on adding additional training classes just to meet demands from clients for corporate bodyguards to protect their managers.

Our E.P. training class in Los Angeles next month will go into workplace violence in greater detail than ever before. Fortunately, not everyone will react violently to getting laid off. For those who will need to find a new job or even change careers, Rachel Zupek from has written a very useful article on how carefully planned networking can increase your chances of finding that next position.

Shoppers advised about deadly mall attacks

In a joint effort between U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security and Mall retail associations, mall employees and shoppers are being advised on how to protect themselves against assailants armed with guns.

It is a sad reflection of the society in which we live, but statistics show that there is a real need for such training. Between 2004 and 2008, there have been 17 shooting incidents in U.S. malls. The shootings have resulted in 34 deaths and 33 injuries.

The issued guidelines warn that the shootings are often committed by current and former retail employees with grievances against their employers (workplace violence) or are related to an associate with domestic problems (domestic violence).

We continue to advocate for better training for mall security officers. Unfortunately, many times employers have to face huge lawsuits before they are willing to spend money on any additional security training. The ironic part is that had they done the right thing to begin with, in many cases they could have saved tens of millions of dollars in those same lawsuits and not suffered reputation damage and loss.

You may not even know it, but a Bodyguard may be protecting your colleague as you work.

I just came across an excellent workplace violence article written by reporter, Andrea James.

The article raises many points that I am sure many of us have or would overlook if it was not brought to our attention. The director of New Beginnings, a Seattle based non-profit that provides advocacy and shelter for victims made the point that while going home after a hard day’s work is something that many employees look forward to, for victims of domestic abuse, work is the only place that provides them safety and a sanctuary from a tortured home life.

Our company is frequently requested by employers to provide covert bodyguards for employees with domestic problems at home. The reason for this is due to the fact that physical violence at home, quite often spills into the workplace by the abuser and when that happens, the liklihood of the domestic partner and other co-workers getting hurt or even killed is very real.

Employers know that they have a responsibility to keep the workplace safe so they hire companies like ours to have trained personal protection specialists blend in at the place of empoyment and watch out for the identified threat. Just about 100% of the time the victim of the abuse is a female employee but this article and the comments that follow show that males also suffer from domestic violence.

It is the opinion of our company that we will see even more workplace violence, domestic and otherwise, as companies continue to practice cost cutting tactics like downsizing and layoffs due to the worsening economy. Other related predictions would be thefts from the workplace, increase in fraud and embezzlement, an increase in Resume/CV fabrications as more and more people compete for fewer jobs.

This all goes to show that employers have to be more astute and procative in making sound hiring decisions, being alert for internal theft and abuse and being proactive when it comes to workplace violence.

Employee Fraud Spiralling Out of Control in the UK

You have read it before on TheBulletProofBlog – the tougher times get, the more likelihood that people will resort to criminal measures.

We reported it regarding the theft of copper from Churches, Hospitals, Schools – even from new homes still under construction. We brought to your attention the fact that thieves have become bolder, evidenced by the theft of manhole covers in public streets and drilling into fuel tanks on vehicles as petrol and diesel prices rise.

In “Personneltoday“, it is reported that employers have been put on “red alert” as the downturn in the economy is prompting employees to make ends meet by dishonest means. One figure that employers every where are bound to find shocking is the fact that employee fraud has cost UK companies more than 77 Million Pounds Sterling (approx. $150,000,000.00),just in the first half of this year alone.

The most disturbing aspect of this figure is the fact that it is up from 10 Million Pounds Sterling (approx. $18,000,000.00)in the same period last year. This represents more than an 8 fold increase in employee fraud in a 12 month period.

The report was conducted by the accountancy firm BDO Stoy Hayward. Mr. Simon Bevan, the head of fraud services there attributes the escalation in criminal activity amongst employees to; “spiralling personal debt as a result of mortgage,food and fuel price hike”. Sound familiar?

The population of the UK is one sixth that of the United States. It is frightening to imagine what the figures will look like from U.S. businesses at the end of this year and beyond. In 2002, employee fraud and abuse cost U.S. businesses $6 Billion Dollars (independently reported by the “Association of Certified Fraud Examiners” of which SEXTON is a member).

What would be the outcome to U.S, businesses if fraud costs escalated 8 fold to $48 Billion Dollars by year’s end? How many would go under? How much further damage would that inflict on the already struggling economy? The economic circumstances in the U.S. are certainly similar to those of the UK.

U.S. businesses beware. Be proactive and fight fraud and abuse before it is too late. Your very survival just may depend upon it.