Private Investigations and Personal Security/Query re Clients



From your own experience, what percentage of clients did you eventually find/strongly suspect had seriously lied to you about some matter in a particular case? In the US, is it acceptable for a PI to investigate a case in which the police are still active, or not? Also, just how much can a PI acess databases? In TV series, there is usually  a friendly cop who will happily hand out government info to his PI pal, but I presume that in real-life a cop would likely be sacked if found out.

Lastly, I'm curious as to what clever tricks PIs use to get around laws. I realise you might not want to reveal any personal secrets, but, perhaps, if certain techniques/themes have already been mentioned in some tell-all books by various former PIs, it wouldn't matter revealing those? Can one get away on the phone, for example, with pretending to be someone eminent, though not necessarily in authority, in order to gain specific info? Thanks! Geoff


To answer your 1st question, I would have to say less than 5% if that. However, I will say that I know some of my colleagues that would most likely have a much higher percentage than myself. One thing that I stress to my colleagues is vetting/investigating your prospective clients before taking a case. Our profession has been severely hampered by legislation which has made it much more difficult to make a profit in this business due to the lack of due diligence applied to prospective clients. Nowadays, if a PI vets a prospective clients and believes that person is being untruthful, the PI will log onto several email groups and warn other investigators to expect a call from the untruthful prospective client. I see emails like this on a weekly basis. So in short, I vet my clients and use my interviewing skills to determine if my client is trust worthy, has a legal reason for asking my to perform a specific investigative service and then I ask for proof to substantiate their claim. I have turned away and or scared off 100's of cases over the last 15 years and I'm sure it will continue...

Yes, a private investigator can legally investigate a case in which law enforcement (criminal cases generally) has an ongoing investigation. It is my understanding that the investigator would have to be legally retained by someone involved with the case. (IE-Plaintiff, defendant, victims family members, etc.)

PIs have access to many different databases. Some are privately owned and some are government owned. In most cases, a PI wouldn't need to go to a cop to get database type information. I have no doubt that some of my colleagues have resources within law enforcement that may help them in certain areas such as information and or evidence obtained by law enforcement that isn't public knowledge that could be instrumental to solving a case. PI's have many different resources, but they are generally very specific to a need. Database information wouldn't be one of them.

With regarding to your last 2 questions. No, I wouldn't be comfortable expose industry trade secrets. Generally speaking, PIs dont really get around laws. In most cases, we know the laws, we understand the loop holes, are knowledgeable about cases laws to help protect us in the event we choose to walk on a gray area law. That fact is most PIs wont touch even gray areas because the cost of fighting prosecution could put most of us out of business and give us and the profession a bad name. The best PI's are knowledgeable of the laws and will develop legal means to accomplish the same goal thus avoiding the need to break the law or venture into gray areas.

Lastly, using your example of a phone rouse, it may be legal to misrepresent yourself depending on what information you are trying to obtain and what your purpose for obtaining such information. This can be a gray area depending on the state laws and knowledge of applicable case law. However, in California it is illegal to use a rouse to obtain financial information which is not available to the public...

Hope this helps...

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Claude Ammons


I enjoy answering questions relating to private & general investigations including but not limited to locates, skip tracing, surveillance, stalking, child custody, criminal defense, civil, corporate security/executive protection, workplace violence/threat assessments, personal security, security surveillance systems and GPS tracking/monitoring products & services. Specifically, I answer questions regarding state laws concerning private investigation practices, as well as the best practices & standard operating procedures used by most reputable private investigative firms. I can give you state & federal references when dealing with issues that may or may not be legal in your specific state. IE- Some states have laws which conflict with federal law such as California's "2 party law" for surreptitious audio recordings. I offer tips on how to identify the right investigative firm for your particular case and what type of questions that investigative firm should be asking you. QUICK TIP #1: NEVER hire a Private Investigative firm that is not concerned about providing you a written contract that specifically outlines the agreement and responsibilities of both parties!!! A written contract should be expected & demanded by both investigative firm and client 95% of the time. I have numerous resources and will point you in the right direction. Whether it is hiring an attorney, a specialist or offering tips on conducting LEGAL investigations & research yourself. I offer advise regarding the kind of info you can legally obtain, what's not legal for you to obtain and when you need to hire a professional to obtain the info on your behalf. Lastly, I have over 20 yrs of experience as a Security Professional/Consultant and 12+ yrs within the Investigative profession. As the 2009 President of a state Private Investigation Association, I have professional knowledge, experience & established resources that supply me with the most recent legislative issues & industry trends.


Corinthian Group experience includes but not limited to all areas of surveillance including Workers Compensation Insurance Fraud, Domestic Infidelity Cases, Computer Investigations & Forensics, Personal Injury & Automobile Liabilty, Loss Prevention, theft interviewing & interrogation techniques, Under Cover assignments, Stalking prevention & suppression, surveillance tactics & countermeasures and surveillance system & lighting consultation experience. Corinthian Group also has experience in security consultation & protective services to the corporate & private sector. These services include Bodyguard/Executive Protection, identity theft prevention, work place violence & volitale terminations, GPS tracking/monitoring services, TSCM/Debugging( Technical Surveillance Countermeasures) and security system products & diagramming experience.

2009 PICA President (Professional Investigators of California Association) NCISS (National Council of Investigations & Security Services)-Member CALI (California Association of Licensed Investigators)-Member SCFIA (Southern California Fraud Investigators Association)-Member WAD (World Association of Detectives)-Member

Publications Hellium: Blog: and my m

PSO (Security Course) Weaponless Defense Tai Karate & MMA training Wicklander & Zulawski-Interview & Interrogation Techniques Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST)-832 Level 3 CA State licensed Private Investigator-CA PI # 23070 Law Enforcement Training Center-Computer Investigations

Awards and Honors
Elected as the Association President of PICA in 2009. PICA was an Association that focused on legislative bills that would have a negative impact on our profession if passed at the state level... PICA was a member oriented association that was positioning itselt to provide its members with resources to help them successful grow and or sustain their businesses. Awarded for presentation of GPS Tracking devices. Honored for service as the 2009 PICA President and the 2008 & 2007 PICA 2nd Vice President respectively.

Past/Present Clients
SCRMA (Southern California Risk Management Associates), Markel Insurance Corporation, Imhoff & Associations (Nationwide Criminal Defense Law Firm). Private clients are Confidential!

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