Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Informant

I heard her before I saw her. 

Her heels on the cobblestones sharp in the otherwise muted sounds of another fog-shrouded night at the docklands.      

Click clack, click clack.

I checked my watch one last time; ten to midnight. Right on schedule. A solitary dark figure loomed out of the mist ahead of me and stopped, one hand hidden from view in her coat pocket. 

"Are you the dick?" she asked.

That's never how it happens.

Of course I am referring to informants and their role in investigations. Unlike in law enforcement or intelligence operations, informants for us are generally single-use assets; they have initiated contact with information regarding a particular matter.

In my experience, this generally applies to insurance claims investigations. The informant makes an allegation regarding a particular Claimant - usually that the claim is somehow fraudulent. Sometimes they are amenable to being interviewed, sometimes not, and sometimes they don't care about remaining anonymous at all.

My latest two insurance investigation cases were initiated because of informants.

The use of informants poses several challenges:

  1. What is their motivation for coming forward? Sometimes the desire of an Informant to harm an ex-lover or former partner calls into question the reliability, and value, of the information they have provided.
  2. Can their information be verified? Just because an allegation has been made does not make it necessarily truthful. Can this information be verified in any way?
  3. Can their information be utilised without revealing their identity? Sometimes it is difficult to utilise information received in a manner that does not identify the anonymous informant. Not all intelligence is actionable.
One of my recent cases involves an admission made by the Claimant to her ex-husband regarding commissioning the historic theft of her vehicle for the insurance payout. He even provided the details on the alleged thief - a relative of the Claimant's. The Informant is currently going through a legal bid to obtain full-time parental rights over their children and his relationship with the Claimant is 'strained' at best. Naturally, he does not want the Claimant to know that he has provided any information to the insurance company as this might worsen an already difficult parental situation.

The problem is that while all this might be true, very little can be verified (or even attempted) without risk of compromising the Informant's identity.  

In my other case, an Informant has provided an alternate explanation of an accident involving the Claimant - one that puts the liability square into the Claimant's lap. This Informant is completely anonymous, having sent an unsigned letter to the insurer.

The Claimant has allegedly been boasting of the ease he defrauded his Insurer and the Informant reportedly is 'disgusted' at his actions, hence his letter.

I am actually quite looking forward to interviewing the Claimant, however, ever since I initially made contact in regards to his claim he has been rather elusive and reticent about being interviewed.

More about him later.

Anyway, if any of you have interesting or amusing anecdotes regarding informants, please share below.

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