Private Investigator Services by Retired GBI Agents - Georgia License #PDC001751

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SPI's Blog

Read up on the latest updates on the services and advice that Southern Professional Investigations can offer you.
NOV
05

Madison police chief resigns

By Patrick Yost, Editor
Top Stories
MORGAN COUNTY CITIZEN

After a nearly three-hour, closed session of the Madison City Council on Monday to discuss personnel issues, as well as a brief meeting with Madison City Manager David Nunn Tuesday morning, Madison Police Chief Travis Stapp resigned from his position on Tuesday, effective immediately.

Stapp, 54, has been the Madison chief for approximately five years after being appointed to that position following the retirement of former Chief Neal Thompson.

According to Nunn, the resignation came on the heels of an audit that the city paid two former Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) agents to complete. The audit, Nunn said, revealed management and morale issues. Nunn said the retired GBI agents began the audit last week and completed their review in time to give the city council a verbal report at the closed session of the Monday meeting.

"What I saw was less effective management than we needed," Nunn said. "We discussed his options and he felt it best to resign." Nunn said the retired agents were tasked with capturing a "general mood of the department." "I asked someone to come in and get an overall picture."

Findings, Nunn said, included "poor-to-bad morale" and an "overall degradation of respect (for Stapp)." The audit prompted by city council members and community concerns regarding the police department, Nunn said. "I wanted to study the overall concerns of the police department and that's what we did." "It really boiled down to leadership and morale."

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  1320 Hits
1320 Hits
OCT
25

Not Guilty on All Counts

We were contacted by a local defense attorney, Judy Kim to assist her in the defense of her client who was charged with Rape, False Imprisonment and Aggravated Sodomy. We first reviewed the investigative report of the local police department that investigated the case. Several things stood out immediately to us. First no crime scene photographs were taken of the scene. The most important thing we saw was the detective did not invterview all of the witnesses who had information or were associated with this case. After that we then reviewed the recorded interview of the victim and immediately discovered she told three different stories regarding the time the incident happened. We listened to the 911 call the victim made and she appeared to be upset, but it did not sound right to us. We went to the motel where the rape supposedly occurred and found that she was 52 steps from the office where she did not call or walk to after the supposed rape. We determined the sex took place around 1 PM, but she did not call the police until 4 PM some three hours later. During that three hours she called two of her friends. That seemed very strange behavior to us regarding a rape victim. We had investigated numerous rapes while with the GBI and this was out of character of a rape victim. We then listened requested the audio of the interview she gave to the detective. During that interview she told the detective after having sex, she borrowed the guys cell phone and walked outside in the parking lot and called her two friends. That didn't sound like she was a victim of False Imprisonment. During this same interview she was calm and did not appear to be upset or traumatized. The interview took place within one hour of her 911 call. The detective called one of her friends by telephone and conducted a short interview and that was it. No in person interview. That is not good investigation. I spent a week trying to locate the other friend the victim called, since she had moved out of the county. I finally located her and interviewed her in person. She told me that the victim called her and told her she had sex, not I was rapped. She was not upset nor was she crying. This call to her friend was after 3 pm on that day. Then one hour later she is calling the police and crying and upset. We went to trial and the victim was not a good witness. The detective testified that she did not think it was necessary to take photos of the crime scene or the victim. I guess she thought this was a slam dunk case. The last witness was the friend who the police didnt feel was important enough. She testified the victim was not upset or crying and that she did not believe her story. She said the victim had a reputation of lying and wouldnt believe her under oath. The jury was out just a few hours and came back NOT GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS.

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  975 Hits
975 Hits
JUL
26

Our First "FOURSOME"

We recently worked a case for a husband who suspected his wife was cheating on him. He advised us that he would be out of town with the kids and that his wife was going out of town to Savannah. However he had learned that she was going to meet her boyfriend at a motel near the Atlanta airport. With that information we were ready to begin the surveillance. We documented the boyfriends arrival at the motel and to our suprise he had two additional females with him. We contacted the client and he informed us that it may be two females from New York that comes down and visits with the boyfriend on occassion. We also learned the boyfriend is married and has kids. We continued surveillance at the hotel and the client's wife arrived about 1:30 am. Mike was in the parking lot and I was set up in the lobby. As she entered the motel I obtained discreet video of her taking the elevator up to the second floor and entering the room where she remained the rest of the night. On Saturday morning all four of them came out and piled into the boyfriends vehicle and went to various locations in the Atlanta, GA area such as shopping and restaurants. We remained at the motel and waited for them to return. Later that evening we obtained more video of all of them arriving and entering the same room. They remained in the room all night until they checked out the next morning. As they exited the motel, the boyfriend had a big smile on his face, but we knew that would not last long after he learned of our video.

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  1284 Hits
1284 Hits
JUN
07

To Reconcile or Not to Reconcile; That is the Question

 

We recently had a case where the husband contacted us and stated that he and his wife were in the process of getting a divorce. He stated they had already agreed to the terms regarding child support, alimony and division of property. Within the next few days, he was scheduled to sign the papers, but he had a gut feeling something was not right. He requested us to conduct surveillance on her. Within in just a few days, we had confirmed his suspicions, she was having an affair with her personal trainer from the gym where she worked out. We then continued surveillance and documented her spending the night with the boyfriend at his apartment. With this evidence this changed the entire situation. Unfortunately the client called his wife immediately after we updated him and informed her he had hired us and we had video documentation of the affair. The wife became furious. We had warned the client not to do this, but to no avail. Within 24 hours his wife after doing some serious thinking realized she was now on the defense and was in a very compromising position. She called her husband and told him she wanted to reconcile. The client called us and his attorney and both of us told him not to do this right now. We thought she was “playing him”. We explained to him that if they have sex after he has been informed of the affair, under the law he is forgiving his wife for the adultery. He assured us they would go slow and not have sex. They got together that night and she spent the night with him. She left the next morning and within a few hours called him on the phone and told him she had changed her mind and wanted to proceed with the divorce. By the clients bad decision he made all of our evidence null and void not to mention the money he wasted paying for our services.

 

Our position is that if you can save your marriage, by all means do everything you can to do that, especially if children are involved. Our advice is to take it slow and make sure the reconciliation offer is sincere. Seek professional counseling and if it works out great. But be very careful if you have documented evidence of an illicit affair that you can use in court, DON’T THINK WITH THE WRONG HEAD!

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  849 Hits
849 Hits
FEB
17

Cheating Wife

A few months ago a client from the Sandy Springs, GA area contacted me and stated he suspected his wife was having an affair with an old high school sweetheart. I provided him with a GPS tracking unit to place on her car. He said that she had told him she was scheduled to go up to north Georgia to a Bed and Breakfast for a few days for massage and quiet time. Thank goodness we had the assistance of the GPS. She went to a new bed and breakfast up near Helen, GA which was located at the top of a mountain. I arrived a short time after she did and set up surveillance in the parking lot. I spotted a car with a out of state license plate where the suspected boyfriend was from. After about an hour I saw the wife and her boyfriend exit from the building holding hands. I followed them into Helen and watched them have dinner and do some tourist shopping. They returned to the Bed and Breakfast where they spend the night together. I returned early the next morning, and watched them check out and carry their luggage to their respective vehicles. They then walked up to a porch swing, where they remained for about one hour holding hands, talking and kissing. They then went back to the cars and drove down the mountain to a nearby restaurant and had lunch. After exiting the restaurant they stood out by their cars and engage in passionate kissing and hugging. Of course all of this was on video. The husband was happy with me, but very unhappy with his wife.

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  1165 Hits
1165 Hits
FEB
17

Process Server

Southern Professional Investigations also serves court papers thoughout the metro Atlanta area. Most of these services are routine, but sometime they become a challenge. The person we are attempting to serve tries to avoid service and then it becomes a game of wits. A perfect example was a man in Snellville who would not come to the door when the Sheriffs deputy came to the house on several occasions. Normally after three attempts the Sheriffs Office will give up. The ex-wife contacted me and asked for our assistance. Since he would not come to the door we devised a different plan of attack. I obtained some background information on him and learned that he liked to attend his daughter's high school softball games. There was a game scheduled in Loganville that week. I went to the game and identified which side of the field he would be sitting and then sat down for about 30 minutes watching the game. I was able to identify him from the description provided and also overhearing another parent call out his name. I did not want to serve him the child support payments in front of his daughter, so I waited until her team was out in the field. I walked up to him and called his name out and he reached out to shake my hand and so I handed him the papers and told him he had been served. He was not a happy camper.

Another example was a woman living near the Mall of Georgia in Buford. Again the Sheriffs Office had been to house numerous times, but she would not come to the door. The client requested our help. We sat down the street and waited for her to arrive back from picking her child up from school. We saw her pull up in the driveway and walk into the house. I had another investigator with me and they were hiding in the back of my vehicle and obtaining video of the situation. I drove up to the house and parked out front. I knocked on the door and she yelled through the door "Who is it?" I told her I had some papers for her and she said to get off her property. She then looked through a window and I was able to identify her. She continued to refuse to open the door and kept shouting to get off her property or she would call the police. I told her to go ahead and call, I would love for them to show up and get her to open the door. Of course she never called the police. However since I had confirmed she was in the house, I placed the papers in the crack in the doorway between the door frame and the door and told her she had been served. She yelled even louder that she was not accepting service. I then went back to my vehicle and drove up the street and then returned a few minutes later and obtained video of the papers that were no longer stuck in the doorway.

A few years ago in Alpharetta I was attempting to serve papers on the president of a large corporation. He lived in a gated community in Atlanta so I could not get in to serve them at his residence. I knew what vehicle he operated so I went up to the front desk and told the receptionist I was turning around in the parking lot and I accidentally back into the BMW. Could she contact the owner and ask him to come out and make sure I didn't do any damage to the vehicle. A few minutes later, the owner comes out and we begin to walk outside to his car. As we approached the car I turned and hand him the papers and told him he had been served. This case went to trial in Federal Court in Southwest Georgia over a patent infringement. My client won several million dollars in that case.

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  766 Hits
766 Hits
FEB
10

Cell Phone Records

In the past few weeks, I have had two potential clients call and ask if I can obtain cell phone records associated with their spouse's cell phone. When I tell them no, it is a violation of state and federal law, their response has been, "The other PI Company I called said they could." The only way you can obtain cell phone records is through a court order or subpoena and these so called "Professional" companies are aware of this. It appears they are more interested in making a dollar, than working in a lawful and ethical manner. If you elect to engage their services, then you are exposing yourself to civil and criminal liability. Not only that, if it comes out in court that you illegally obtained this information, you are going to look worse than your cheating spouse. If this is the only way to confirm your spouse is cheating and identify the other person, don't you think a good attorney is going to know that and question you or the investigator on how they obtained this information?

These unethical practices only take place on a few occasions and is not industry wide. I encourage anyone thinking of engaging the services of one of these companies, THINK TWICE! Is it worth the risk to have a felony arrest just for cell phone records. Another factor you want to consider is if this company is willing to violate the federal and state laws, WHAT ELSE ARE THEY WILLING TO DO,  with or without your knowledge!  If you hire them, then they are acting on your behalf. If you or the investigator get caught doing this, do you think the PI company is going to assist you in your defense? Are they going to help defend you in a criminal prosecution? I don't think so.

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  826 Hits
826 Hits
JAN
14

Who Do We Catch More, Husbands or Wives?

Who Do We Catch More, Husbands or Wives?

Almost every time I speak to a potential or new client I get asked that question.  Who cheats more, the husband or the wife?  I have been working infidelity cases in the Atlanta and north Georgia areas for over 15 years.  Over that period of time it usually evened out that we caught about the same percentage.  However, since November 1, 2011, we have seen a dramatic change.  During November and December we caught six (6) cheating wives.  Almost every new case that came in, it was the husband suspecting the wife was having an affair.  What is the explanation as to why the increase for wives being unfaithful?  It may be too much egg nog during the holiday season.  Surveys reveal several reasons for women cheating:  jobs outside the home, financial independence, and changing social attitudes.  Mobile phones, internet chat rooms, and email make it easier for women to make contact with their partner. 

During this same time we did have a few cases come in where the wife suspected the husband/boyfriend was cheating, but only one of those was confirmed.  Most cases involve the wife having an affair with a co-worker.  In one case we suspected the wife met the man online in a chat room or adult web site for “hooking up”.  One was a neighbor and this affair had been going on for several years.  In a very recent case, the wife was having an affair with a police officer.  We caught them together while the officer was working an off duty job as security for a local club.  In another case the wife had been introduced to her boyfriend through her cousin.  It never ceases to amaze me that the family of the cheating spouse will aid or attempt to keep the cheating discreet and the innocent spouse completely in the dark.

As I have stated in past blogs, most of our clients are very stressed, upset, angry, betrayed and embarrassed over the possible infidelity of their spouse.  We try to calm them down as much as possible, but when they ask “What is the percentage rate of you catching a cheating spouse?”  We tell the truth.  When a spouse comes to us for help, it usually means they really suspect their spouse is cheating on them but deep down inside they are hoping we don’t find anything.  However, over 95% of the time we catch the cheater.

P.S.

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  943 Hits
943 Hits
DEC
28

Some Information is Better than NO Information

Without getting too technical, deleted text messages can be recovered on most cell phones if they have not been "overwritten".  However, most of our request involve attempting to recover text messages that have been deleted for quite some time which means they most likely have been overwritten by other messages.  A recovered text message may show only parts of a message and / or the cell phone number associated with a message.  However, the good news is - some information is better than no information

Recently we had a request to recover text messages from an Android cell phone.  Our client was not only hoping to recover deleted text messages but also find a specific cell phone number that had been texted.  The recovered messages and cell phone number would prove the spouse had been texting someone they claimed they had not texted.  The analysis process took several hours.  Deleted text messages were recovered but due to having been overwritten by other messages, entire text messages were not recoverable.  However, we were able to recover some of the cell phone numbers the spouse had texted and the specific cell phone number the client was looking for was recovered.  It proved without a doubt the spouse had texted messages to the number and we were able to prove they had received texts from the number. 

If you want to recover information from a cell phone, give us a call at 770-985-6203.  We may be able to help you.  Remember: Some information is better than no information.

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  1100 Hits
1100 Hits
NOV
06

Better Sooner than Later!!

We receive numerous calls from prospective clients requesting surveillance on their spouse.  The usual scenario goes like this:  I suspected my spouse was cheating.  I confronted them with their unusual behavior and the text messages I found and they admitted to the affair.  They promised not to see the person again and we tried to work things out.  Well, after several months I suspected they were cheating again.  I found more evidence to support the affair and now they have moved out of the house.  I need evidence for court.

If you suspect your spouse is cheating, it is better to get your evidence “sooner than later”.  There are several reasons why.  It is easier to gather evidence if they are still living in the house.  You can monitor their activities to see whether or not they are telling you the truth about where they have been.  If you are considering using a GPS, it is easier for you to install it.  You can gather supporting evidence using the GPS to know exactly where your spouse is compared to where they tell you they are.  Documentation can be crucial to show your spouse is having an affair and to show their attempts to hide the affair.  And depending on the judge who resides over your case, he/she may rule according to “today’s moral standards” and not the law.  We were contacted by a client who hired us to verify the "cheating" spouse was continuing their affair.  The cheating spouse had moved out of the house.  Our client wanted the evidence for court.  We conducted surveillance and gathered the evidence showing the spouse was still having the affair.  We went to court; however, the judge wouldn’t allow testimony about the affair solely because the cheating spouse had already moved out.  The judge stated “today’s moral standards” would be applied to the case.  The judge stated if the evidence about the affair had been gathered while the spouse was still living in the house, it would be allowed.  The good news in this case was our client still received what they wanted as far as the settlement. 

Don’t wait, get your evidence “sooner than later”

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  1082 Hits
1082 Hits
OCT
06

Droid Spyware Check

Recently we attended training on how to determine if spyware has been placed on an Android phone. The very next day we received a call from a client wanting his Droid cell phone checked for spyware. After running several test and applying the skills and techniques recently learned, we were able to advise the client his phone had not been compromised and it was safe to use. We expect more calls like this as the Droid phone becomes very popular with the public.

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  841 Hits
841 Hits
AUG
18

GPS "works again"

This past Monday a client rented a GPS unit from us to put on her husband's vehicle.  She suspected he was having an affair.  On the very first day we caught him going to his ex-wife's residence and spending the afternoon with her.  Of course he told his wife he was at work.  Well today he did the same thing.  This time he picked up the ex-wife and took her to a nearby state park south of Atlanta.  His wife drove down there and caught them having a nice lunch together.  I cautioned her about the GPS unit and told her if he suspected it was on his truck she would never see it again.  I underestimated her.  After confronting her husband and the ex, she marched outside, crawled under the truck, removed the GPS unit and left.  Another cheating spouse bites the dust!

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  788 Hits
788 Hits
JUL
15

Cell Phone Spyware Update

We receive calls weekly asking if we can detect spyware on a cell phone.  This seems to be a growing concern, especially in domestic related matters.  Before we give you some questions to consider, you need to know it is illegal to install spyware on someone else’s cell phone. 

If you think your cell phone has been compromised, consider these questions.  Have you loaned your cell phone to anyone or allowed someone, possibly your spouse, to use your cell phone and they were outside your presence for at least 10 minutes? Have you downloaded an attachment from an email or text message from an unknown source?  Does the battery on your cell phone drain more than usual?  Do you experience a problem when trying to shut down your cell phone?  Is your cell phone bill higher than usual and/or you see a higher number of text messages than you know you have sent?  Is there a new icon on your cell phone that you didn’t put there?   Do others know more about your daily activities than they should know?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have spyware on your cell phone. 

Do you think your cell phone is infected with spyware?  Contact Southern Professional Investigations at 770-985-6203 for a free consultation.

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  765 Hits
765 Hits
APR
28

Hiring A PI

In the past few weeks, I have received numerous calls from people that have never contacted a private investigator for any reason. They are nervous and sometimes embarrassed especially if they are calling about the possibility of their spouse cheating on them. The first comment they normally make is "I never thought I would be calling you. What is the procedure that I need to follow. Where do I start?" I thought that I would blog about this topic and try to give potential new clients an idea of what to expect when they call.
The

The first thing I try to do is to calm the caller down and tell them there is nothing to be nervous about and especially nothing to be nervous about. I assure them that anything they tell me will be in held in confidence, whether they employ my services or not. The next thing they want to to know is how much is it going to cost them. I then explain to them that it all depends on the type of case and if it is a cheating spouse, it really depends on the spouse in question and their activity. In some cases I have gone out the first time and caught the spouse. In other cases it has taken several weeks. Again it really depends on how often the cheating spouse attempts to meet up with their "friend". I ask the caller some details about what they already suspect. Do you have an idea who your spouse is seeing? Do you know if it is occurring during the day or at night.? Is it also taking place on the weekends. The more information the client has about their spouse's illicit activity will help narrow down the scope of the investigation and assist us in determining the best time to conduct surveillance. For example, one client may tell me that her husband seems to work late every Wednesday evening. So what that tells us, we need to concentrate on that evening, instead of conducting surveillance on other days and he may not be doing anything wrong. We save time and the client saves money. Other clients just have a feeling their spouse is cheating, but as far as any other information, they are clueless. When that happens I try to ask more detailed questions to try and narrow it down somewhat. I then ask them to consider using a GPS tracker on the vehicle. Even though there is a cost for the use of the GPS, it is way cheaper and cost effective than paying an investigator by the hour to watch the spouse for 8 hours and he does nothing. The GPS shows us their patterns of travel and then we can set up our surveillance around that information.

Another question I ask the caller is if they can provide a photo of their spouse and a physical description. They can email that to us. I ask for the description of the vehicle they drive and the license plate number. I also ask what their spouse's normal routine is so if I see anything on the GPS that doesn't fit, then I know we may have to respond. I also explain to the caller that I, like most investigative companies require a retainer before beginning the investigation. Usually this is in the amount of $1,000 to $1,500. I always advise my clients that I will not go beyond the retainer amount unless they authorize it, so they will not be hit with a large bill that they were not expecting. The client always knows where they are regarding the budget. I also require the client to sign a written contract which depicts the date the investigation is to begin along with the amount of the retainer paid at the time. The contract spells out the services and the hourly rate that will be charged including an additional charge if a second investigator is needed for the surveillance. In addition if court testimony or conferences with your attorney are needed, the normal hourly rate is charged.  The contract will also stated that within 7 days of completion of the investigation a written report, video and photographs obtained will be provided to the client or their attorney.

I hope this answers most of the questions that a new client may have. If not just ask.

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  716 Hits
716 Hits
MAR
21

Christmas Present- Missing Person

A few years ago one December night, I received a telephone call from a frantic mother. She lived up north and told me her teenage daughter was missing. The 19 yr old had moved out and began living with her boyfriend approximately six months ago and they were living in a nearby state with his relatives. The mother told me she had not heard from her daughter since then. Earlier on this day, she had received a call from Gwinnett County Police Department advising her that her car had been impounded in Lawrenceville. The mother told me her daughter was driving the car and had no idea she was in Georgia and had no idea why she would be in Georgia. She told me she had checked her daughter's Facebook page and she had not logged in for the past three months. She then checked the boyfriend's Facebook page and he had checked his status as single and he was looking for a relationship. This did not sound good to me. The mother asked that I try to find out if her daughter was in Georgia and if she was ok. The first thing that went through my mind is that she was deceased and laying in the woods somewhere. I requested the mother to call the impound lot and authorize me to search the vehicle.

The next morning I went to the impound lot and searched the vehicle in the pouring rain. The only thing I found were some paystubs from a restaurant in Dacula where she had been employed. I also learned the car had been towed from the side of the road in Dacula after sitting there for several days.  From there I went to the restaurant and spoke to the manager. He told me the daughter had worked there for several months, but a few weeks ago she did not show up for work and they had not heard from her since. They told me her boyfriend had been banned from the restaurant because he had caused a few disturbances with other customers who apparently were too friendly with his girlfriend. So now I was concerned about the boyfriend's temper and his jealous nature. I requested the last address for the girl, but the manager stated he could not provide that. He would not provide any more information. As he went back to his office and I was preparing to leave, another woman who was employed there, took me off to the side and gave me a telephone number that she had for the missing girl. I called the number and it was no longer in service.

I arrived back in my office around 6:30 PM and ran a search on the telephone number. I came up with a name and address that was not familiar with the mother. I went to the address and upon arrival there were lights on in the house. I knocked on the door and the boyfriend came to the door. I asked to speak to his girlfriend and he said just a minute, she is asleep. My heart jumped, she was alive. A few minutes later she came to the door and we talked a few minutes and I told her that her mother had asked me to find her. She confided in me that the car had broke down and she had no money to have it repaired. Her boyfriend was not working either. She said she had not called her mother because she was too embarrassed about her situation. I told her that her mother was frantic about her safety. While both of us were standing on the front porch, I called the mother and told her she needed to speak to someone. The daughter got on the phone and she started crying, I then got on the phone and the mother was crying and was yelling that she couldn't believe I had found her missing daughter in less then 24 hrs. She told me this was the best Christmas present she had ever received. Well, after hearing that I got teary eyed. The majority of the time with my carreer with the GBI, it was not usually good news that I was telling the parents or relatives. I told the daughter to tell her mother she would call her back in a few minutes, so I could get my phone back and leave. The daughter gave me a hug and said "Thank you". The next morning the mother called me again and could not thank me enough and told me again this was the best present she had ever received. The next Christmas I received a Christmas card from the mother bringing me up to date on her daughter and how things have improved. The daughter was staying in touch with the family and again she was very grateful for finding her missing daughter. This case had a very happy ending for everyone. The mother and daughter reunited and happy, and I know I was on cloud 9.

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  707 Hits
707 Hits
MAR
09

Choosing a Private Investigator

If you are considering hiring a private investigator to assist you in an important matter, you should not rush into your decision. Do your research! Ask how long the investigator has been in business. What is their background and experience. Do they have references. What type of investigations do they specialize in. This is a good starting point. Some other things I would suggest, is meet the investigator face to face. How does he present himself; confident, knowledgeable, willing to answer questions? With the economy the way it is today, you have to make sure you are hiring a experienced investigator and not someone who had dreams of becoming a "PI" and started their business one day after passing the private investigators course and is now officially a PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR. One of the most important things you can do is go online to the Georgia Secretary of States web page. Click on Private investigator and look up the company you are considering to hire. Check and see if they have had any complaints filed against them. Or you can call the licensing board and request the information. I think you will be surprised what you may find. Private investigation is more than just sitting down the street in your vehicle waiting for your target to leave the house and then you follow them. I assure you that conducting mobile surveillance is very difficult and takes years to develop the skills to follow someone without being detected or losing the target. Also an investigator has to have "People Skills". He/she needs to know how to talk with people. They need to know how to conduct an interview and ask the right questions. They also need to know the difference between an interview and an interrogation. A good investigator has to have the ability to lead the interview in the direction he wants it to go and to obtain the information needed. If the subject begins to be untruthful the investigator has to be able to pick up on that. An investigator has to react quickly to these circumstances. There are several so called investigators out there that want to carry a badge and gun and bring attention to themselves. "Look at me. I am a PI." If that is their attitude run, don't walk. A good experienced investigator remains calm and is in control. Most of the time when an investigation is conducted that requires surveillance, an investigator should be able to "get in" obtain the video or whatever evidence they are trying to obtain, and then get out, without anyone ever realizing they have been there.

Another suggestion that has to be considered is cost! Ask them what fees they charge. Some charge a flat rate depending on the type of case and some charge an hourly fee and mileage. Most investigators are flexible and can work with you. Also be aware that most investigators will require an upfront retainer before starting the investigation. Most important is to set a budget and tell the investigator you do not want to exceed that amount. I would highly recommend a written contract which will detail the services and the fees. That will prevent confusion or problems on down the road. Another very IMPORTANT factor will be if the investigator knows how to testify in court and present the evidence they obtained. Just answering yes and no is not going to cut it. If a young or fairly new investigator has no experience or very little experience giving testimony in court, then I don't care how great the video is or how good the interview was, he is going to have problems. Especially if the opposing attorney is aggressive. You cannot get flustered or confused on the witness stand. It makes you appear to be unsure of yourself. If a judge or jury are not sure about the investigator, then they will not be sure about the evidence they are attempting to present in their testimony.

Over the years I have had several clients ask if we can monitor telephone calls or cell phone calls. Can we put a recording device in a vehicle or in the house. Can we get cell phone records. All of these actions are illegal and you can be prosecuted. If an investigator tells you he can do it, that should send up red flags. Not only is he violating the law, but you and he are subject to prosecution. In addition any evidence obtained during these illegal activities is not admissible in court. I always advise my clients up front that we will not violate the law in any way just to make the case.

To give you an example, I had an attorney call me last week stating that he represented the wife of a high profile professional athelete. He wanted me to obtain the bank records of the soon to be ex, stating that they believed he was hiding over $1,000,000.00. I told him that the federal privacy laws are very clear about bank records. His reply was, "I don't care how you get them, just get them." I told him he needed to find someone else. It would have probably been a well paid case, but it was unethical and illegal. If it came out on down the road, who do you think would be getting the blame? Not the attorney, I'm sure. In closing, just remember do do your research, ask questions and get references. When you choose a doctor, do you just look in the yellow pages and pick one? I hope not. You ask friends or relatives who they would suggest. If you have an attorney ask them. Just make sure you hire an investigator that has the experience and knowledge of the type of case that you require.

I am updating this blog for various reasons. Over the past few years, I have been contacted by clients who have used another PI company and they really did a poor job. As I have said before, anyone can write a very "nice" report that looks sharp and impressive, but it doesn't have anything in there that helps the client in their case. All it does is to make the PI look good or justify their high cost of the investigation. I have had several clients call saying they did not get anything for their money. Some PI's have not provided a  written report or itemized invoice to the client for their services. I encourage anyone considering hiring a PI to please do their due diligence and check the Secretary of State web site to see if there are complaints and/or disciplinary actions against the company you are wanting to hire. Also do a Google search by the company's name and the owner's name to see what comes up. I would suggest you check at the local courthouse within the county where the PI company is located and see if there are any civil actions filed against the company and/or the owner. You will be very surprised what you discover. 

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