Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An offer I can't refuse...?

I've recently had an enquiry that starts out innocently enough: locate the current whereabouts of a woman who is believed to have entered the country with her child, in contravention of a Court Order from her country of origin in favour of her ex-husband's custody of the child.

I say "starts out innocently enough" because I was contacted by a Russian Tractor Factory on behalf of the father as he is a major client of theirs.

Call me uncharitable, but while this Tractor Factory is most likely entirely legitimate and above-board, the very first thing that comes to mind is the Rossiyskaya Mafiya (Рoссийская мафия).


Now, this serves as a perfect example for one of the areas which has recently come under some scrutiny over here: ethics and end-use of information.

You see, in the past there have been some instances where local investigators had been hired, under false pretences, to locate certain individuals who then later died. Gruesomely.

It seems that the Powers-That-Be believe that investigators are ethically bound to determine a number of things prior to undertaking an investigation:
  • Identity of the Client
  • Purpose for which any information gained will be used
Of course, this presumes that a Client ever tells us everything, which is seldom the case.

Now some investigators have a clause whereby they will not divulge the whereabouts of a traced person unless that person, when located, agrees. However, if that person is a debtor or has run afoul of some law, they are unlikely to consent, are they?

So how do you other investigators tackle this issue? Is it even a concern or do you just take the money and shrug your shoulders?

And if my Client turns out to be the Russian Mafia, how much should I charge them for the info?


  1. Charge them at least an extra fifty dollars.

  2. $50???

    Sheesh, I was thinking a few thousand...

  3. How much is one soul worth?

  4. That all depends on whether it is mine, yours, or theirs?

    Mine, you couldn't afford; yours, I'm not too certain about; and theirs is entirely negotiable.

  5. UPDATE: They never got back to me in the end. Pity, I had a solid lead.

  6. Regarding:
    *Identity of the Client
    *Purpose for which any information gained will be used
    Of course, this presumes that a Client ever tells us everything, which is seldom the case.

    I have oft wondered about this... I was legally stalked & harassed & had my privacy invaded by a PI much like yourself. "Its not stalking if you have a license" I know... But, in practice, it was stalking of the worst kind! The PI was receiving $ from a twice removed crazy-ex-girlfriend bent on retaliation and destruction. To make matters worse, this PI hired a "make up artist" (fact) to serve papers on me who either lied or misidentified me (under penalty of perjury) and reported to the court that I "escaped her service"....making matters even worse. (And yes, I am writing a book about this one) Believe it or not, there is a guy who looks just like me and drives the exact same vehicle at my workplace. He has no recollection of any encounter nor do I.

    Question: How does a PI know if he is being used as an unwitting dupe or has a client with honorable intent?
    Can anyone one with a few bucks and a pretty smile use a PI to perpetrate such a fraud so easily or do you have any ethical standards or stop-checks to prevent this legal abuse?

    1. The short version is that until we learn otherwise, we undertake work on behalf of a Client in good faith.

      Just like a mechanic works on your car in good faith that you haven't stolen it. Or your doctor prescribes you medication in good faith that you haven't misled him in regards to your symptoms.

      We investigate in good faith.

      Most investigators I know take a dim view of being deliberately lied to by a Client and would terminate their involvement as soon as this came to light.

      However, if you are suggesting that we should investigate our Clients before taking on a case, well, that is just a little ridiculous and untenable. It might be warranted to some degree if it were an international Client that we had never previously dealt with, if only to protect ourselves. We don't work for anonymous clients!

      At the end of the day, we are not obliged to take a case on if we feel there is something not right.

      What else do you want?