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?”. 

What the HELL is social media – in 2 minutes

Everybody reading this is already aware of what social media is, obviously, since blogging is one form. I challenge you though, to take 2 minutes and digest the stats in this youtube video.

We have incorporated social media awareness in the security training programs which we teach. When attendees ask; “how can I get employers to notice me?”, we show them how they can brand themselves. If it’s good enough for McDonald’s and Cialis, don’t you think it’s something you should be doing too?

Reach millions with your message. Tell them what you do and how good you can do it. Don’t have $100,000 for a PR campaign? Got 10 minutes for a Linkedin post or putting up a video on youtube or Facebook?

If you don’t, your competition most certainly will.

Doctors and other "Professionals" Lead the Way when Stealing from the Government

At first glance, it sounds like good news that the recent Medicare-Fraud crackdown uncovered more than $240 million in fraudulent billing and payments in nine Metropolitan areas.

The investigator in me knows there is always more, however. Sometime the “more” lays lurking beneath the surface like an iceberg. Such is the case with Medicare Fraud. $240 million sounds like a whole lot, until you realize that Medicare fraud costs the Government/tax payer $90 BILLION a year.

In an article for the Wall Street Journal, writers; Mark Schoofs, Maurice Tamman and Brent Kendall disclose some of the criminal activity and the medical “professionals” who are being charged with the crimes.

In one case, a Brooklyn physical therapist, Aleksander Kharkover, billed the Government $11.9 Million from 2005 – 2010 for services that were never performed not medically necessary. Medicare paid out $7.3 Million. Kharkover’s lawyer calls his client a “well respected doctor”. In another case a podiatrist billed the Government millions for removing toenails. Patients being interviewed admitted to only receiving foot baths. The podiatrist billed for one patient as having had 18 ingrown toenail removals.

One wonders how much of this money will be recovered. One Law Enforcement Official stated that the problem was so huge that “you can’t prosecute your way out of this problem – you have to have more effective monitoring of the money that goes out”. It’s a shame that somebody didn’t think a wee bit of monitoring on $90 BILLION a year would have been worthwhile before now.

As for prosecutions, they had better be planning on prosecuting these sleaze balls. Why should the average small-fish tax payer have to give his or her fair(?) share of taxes and these corrupt whales not be penalized for ripping off the system?

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.

Sick Spies

Channel 4 in D.C. ran a story on the evening news last night about companies who hire investigators to “Spy” on their employees who call in sick and then use the day to go shopping, golfing and even working for other companies.

We have covered this topic before, so the story itself is not new, but what did seem strange, was the newscasters’ attitudes towards the private investigator who had been hired by the company.

One newscaster shook his head and said something like; “Can you believe that guy, he actually enjoys spying on people…what a job, I don’t know how he can do it”. Which leads one to understand that he condones employees who are dishonest and who call in sick when they are perfectly well and able to go to work.

There are some companies who allow employees to accumulate sick days and to get paid for them if they do not use them. On the other hand, if a company allows a person to call in sick only when they are sick and that person then goes out to the golf course, it is fraud.

If you are such an employer and reading this, you are totally within your rights to take measures which would detect an employee committing fraud. Investigators investigate such cases, they do not “spy”. I wonder if Channel 4 news also condones social welfare fraud or those who fraudulently claim workman’s comp?

It is little wonder that people like Bernie Madoff are allowed to steal billions of dollars in ponzi schemes and the mortgage industry issued loans that they new would not be repaid when we see our newscasters feeling empathy for people with fraudulent intent.

Does the Peace Corps Care about their Volunteers?

This past week was the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. Although Senator Hubert Humphry actually sponsored the bill in 1957, JFK has been largely credited with setting up the Peace Corps.

President Kennedy’s infamous “ask not what your country can do for you” speech was a call to action for citizens to get involved with organizations like the Peace Corps.

This past week also saw the death of the first Director of the Peace Corps, R. Sargent Shriver. Shriver and Kennedy belonged to a generation where civic involvement and “giving back” played large parts. For instance, Sargent Shriver assisted his wife, Eunice Kennedy in founding the Special Olympics.

What then would these civic minded leaders think of the way the Peace Corps is run today? In a 20/20 documentary last week, a group of women were interviewed about traumatic situations they faced as Peace Corps volunteers. All of them had been sexually assaulted and degraded during their periods of volunteering.

That in itself though was not the most shocking. The most horrific parts of their stories were the fact that Peace Corps officals did next to nothing to assist them. Many of these poor victims were questioned as to how they could let it happen.

They were made to feel like it had been their fault. They did not receive any counselling when they returned home to the U.S. Is this the kind of treatment the original architects of the Peace Corps had in mind for its volunteers?

There is something seriously wrong with society when the media and other “watch dogs” can devote coverage to a mayor using a city vehicle to carry a bicycle or the fact that some Governor is throwing an inaugural ball, not paid with tax payer’s money, but by donor’s and we barely hear about women from all over this country getting raped in foreign lands because they volunteered to try and make the world a better place.

Somebody should be asking more questions from the Peace Corps. Are hundreds of millions of tax payer’s dollars propping up a corrupt or dysfunctional institution in need of a serious overhaul? It would seem so. Every company knows that its people are their greatest asset. Maybe its time the Peace Corps were told this also applies to volunteers.

New articles on the way!

I apologise for the lack of articles during the past two months.

Extended buisness travel and problems logging-in on the road were to blame. Stay tuned for new articles, tips and information to follow!

Whether you are BP or a Bodyguard, be careful of far-reaching consequences

My heart sank when I saw the article in the Belfast Telegraph; “Oil from BP spill may reach Ireland”.

Many Irish fishermen feed their familes throughout the year by harvesting the dangerous waters of the Atlantic Ocean during the lucrative fishing season. In remote areas such as Northern Donegal, in the province of Ulster, there is no other way for them to survive.

Generations turn to the Ocean for their livelihood. What will happen now if the shores of Ireland become polluted as the Gulf has? Will BP step up to the plate with a multi-Billlion dollar rescue package? I think not. BP is managed by smart executives who know how to fatten a “bottom line” (but not necessarily how to plug a leak). Each year they receive $2 Billion dollars in Govt. contracts from the Pentagon.

Who would have thought that a gushing crude oil well off the Gulf States could weeks later threaten the livelihood of European fishermen? We all need to be careful what we do today, since it could have far-reaching consequences.

An E.P. colleague recently spoke about an assignment that he was sure he was going to get. He had all the right qualifications and was on the “short list”. He was quite shocked and bitterly disappointed to discover he did not make the cut. He later heard through the grapevine that he was not included because his credit had taken some hits over the past couple of years and his credit score had plummetted as a result.

Even in these tough times it pays to pull out all the stops to protect your “marketability”. Just because the economy is poor, doesn’t mean that a prospective employer will understand unpaid bills and over extended credit.

Similarly, burning bridges at any time is a risky practice – in these lean times it could be disasterous. If you are looking for a job – put your best foot forward and if you have a poor credit score, it might be wise to mention it at an interview if you have a decent excuse why it became so.

The number of applicants in the job pool is ever increasing and employers can afford to hire the most highly qualified and stable. If you have a job, protect it with dear life. Survival of the fittest is the name of the game.

Suspects must verbally state they do not wish to talk under new Supreme Court ruling

In a Supreme Court ruling delivered today, suspects will now have to tell Police that they do not wish to talk.

Newly appointed Justice Sonia Sotomayor, was opposed to the ruling, stating that it turned American’s rights of protection from Police abuse “upside down”. Apparently the majority of her colleagues did not feel the same way.

Justice Kennedy said that a suspect who talks to Police AFTER being told he doesn’t have to, then waives his right to remain silent. Sounds fair.

Their decision came about by way of appeal from Van Chester Thompkins. Thompkins was convicted of a murder in Michigan in 2000. After receiving the Miranda warning he agreed with a Police Officer who had been questioning him that he prayed for forgiveness for “shooting down that boy.”

ACLU attorneys and inmate lobbyists will no doubt complain about the decision, but like Scott Burns, Executive Director of the National District Attorneys Association says; “Is it too much to ask for a criminal suspect to say he doesn’t want to talk to Police?”

Crimes against elderly people expected to increase nationwide

The Washington Post reported today on a case involving a Maryland man who plead guilty yesterday to swindling an elderly woman out of her life’s savings.

James Brian Gendimenico faces a possible 15 years in jail when he is sentenced on August 9. It is unknown exactly how much he stole from the elderely couple, but prosecutors say it was at least $180,000. By the time her husband died, the victim could no longer afford to bury him.

Montgomery District Court Judge Gary Crawford said; “I’m seeing too many of these crimes”. When Gendimenico was asked his occupation, he replied; “Take care of elderly people”. Unfortunately, elderly abuse crime is expected to increase Nationwide.