Amateur Private Investigators Share The Most Interesting Cases They've Solved
It's Neo-Noir time. Let's strap into the back of a PI's car and follow them around on some cases!
Here were some of the coolest cases.
So I work for a company that investigates what look like insurance fraud. So someone has some type of accident and are saying that they can't work ect.
So we have this case where a man is saying his back is terrible. Like he can hardly walk, can't work at all, needs constant assistance for everyday life.
So we get an investigator to provide footage of them going around their everyday life, pretty normal thing for us to do.
So I pop this DVD in my computer and start to watch, he's walking, bending, twisting. All things that make it look like he isn't injured but then he does one thing that makes his claim fall in the toilet and flush itself down.
He did a backflip. He stood on a bench at a park and flipped off. Needless to say after we showed him the footage he withdrew his claim.
I'm a PI
Been one for a long time. I gotta say that most cases I work on are pretty boring. The job is full of mild "gotcha" moments, but they're a product of long lonely hours on surveillance just to get a guy shovelling some dirt while collecting injury compensation benefits. A PI's greatest tools in the universe are Google and a telephone. I can call and ask anyone anything under the guise of anything I want. I even call the people I'm investigating sometimes or correspond via email when I need answers or information. It's ridiculous the amount of information people volunteer about themselves after some good natured banter.
Also, I'm sure most of you know this trick. But you really can go anywhere with a clipboard, high viz vest, and a hard hat.
The BEST case I was part of involved a security guard my firm hired to do night watch on an electronics store. I was part of a small firm that, at the time, provided security guards and private investigators. One night we get a call from the guard. He'd had the sh*t kicked out of him, been tied to chair, escaped, and called the cops and the office to report a robbery at the store. Three attackers managed to pry the back door open and subdue the guard and proceed to rob the place of about a 100k. The guard told a compelling story and looked like sh*t.
It took the police all of two days to track down the stolen sh*t. The thieves weren't being very careful when it came to offloading the goods. The thieves turned out to be the guard's brother and cousins and it was our guards brilliant idea for them to come and rob the place and make it look like an armed robbery. What a g*ddamn idiot. We still laugh about it.
It must have been one of those thoughts that sounded brilliant and sophisticated in his own head, only to have the epiphany that it was moronic hit him with same Mack Truck like intensity a little later on.
It was unusual to have such a dumb movie heist plot happen with people I worked with.
Thankfully Low End
I wasn't a detective, but I worked as a Skip Tracer for a credit card bank back in the early 2000s.
I was a bill collector, basically, but because of my ability to track people down who had "skipped out" on their debts, I was put on a "task force" to go after accounts that exclusively had zero contact information.
My favorite one was when I tracked down a guy in the middle of South America doing his religious mission. He had access to a phone literally one hour of one day a week. My job was to call around and get information on how to reach him -- at the time I was in my early 20s, and as long as I didn't break FDCPA, the bank let me do my thing.
When I got the guy on the phone he was flabbergasted that I was able to track him down and he wanted to know how, so I told him.
I called his mom, who told me about the mission he was on. Then, when I called again, instead of asking which church he was through, I had instead found a local church and said, "Oh, he went down there through [SUCH AND SUCH] church, right?"
Oh no, not that one. It was [OTHER CHURCH]. "OH OF COURSE! [OTHER CHURCH]! That was with pastor Smith! No? Oh, Pastor Davis!"
Then, called [OTHER CHURCH] and asked for Pastor Davis. Explained that I had just talked to his mom and she suggested I talk to him in order to get a phone number. Pastor Davis supplied me with the phone number and the day and hour that the debtor would be there.
It took me a couple of tries, but I eventually got him on the phone. He gave me permission to talk to his parents regarding the debt, I called them, explained what was up, and they worked out a payment arrangement.
I think he owed less than $10k to the bank, which was on the low-end of accounts that I worked.
I've been a PI for almost a year now. The job is definitely not as exciting as most people think. Some days it's busy and stressful, but a ton of it is just sitting and waiting. When people ask what's it like I tell them, "stare at something for 6-10 hours. That's your job most days".
Anyways as for the most interesting case, we don't necessarily "solve" but rather provide evidence. Most cases are workers comp or liability but we do have domestic (think cheating spouse etc.) Cases about 2-5 a month. I personally have been involved in undercover work buying illegal cell phones that my company gives me 5k - 10k cash to buy that have gone to court and testified afterwards. My all time favorite case involved me following a guy with a boat to a marina. He got on his boat and set out. Our client authorized getting footage by any means necessary. That means my company allowed me to rent a jet ski for 6 hours to watch him fish. After about an hour he left the "zone" I was required to stay in so for the next 5 hours I jet skied then fished on the docks all while getting paid.
If anyone wants to know more feel free to ask.
I thought of another experience that always stuck with me from my PI days-
I was tasked with doing surveillance on a wealthy geologist, who was in a very minor car accident but was collecting $5k+ month from the insurance company in lost wages because she supposedly couldn't work.
These cases were my specialty and I almost always got my person using my shady tactics. In this case the subject was a 60+yr old Chinese woman. The footage that helps me "win" these cases, is catching people doing physical labor, like yard work, as proof they are capable of working.
I thought this old lady would be hard to bust, but in the first hour she carried huge garbage bags of cans and bottles to the recycle depot, loaded about 20 large phone books into her trunk, took out the trash which looked heavy as hell, then went to a hair salon and was tossing her head all around (she claimed neck injury) to show the haircut she wanted. One hour of surveillance (some people take months!) and she was done! No shady tactics required. The insurance company should've given a bonus for that one...
Not Just Cheating--SUPER Cheating
A young individual once hired me to investigate whether his wife was cheating. Needed the evidence in court for when he files for divorce. His wife and his sister-in-law were going to have a get together that weekend and my client wanted me to tail them. So I set up my dash cam to live stream my video feed to the client and start following his wife. Turns out his wife and sister in law were both heading to a hotel for a foursome. Got some pretty solid video and photo evidence for my client, who then confronted his wife later that night. She tried to deny it and said she only met up with some guy for kisses and touched his family jewels a little bit.
Set Up Two People
More of a casual couch investigation than anything.
I once received a text from an unknown number regarding a class project they were working on. Clearly they had thought I was someone else, but I thought I'd have fun with it like I normally do with wrong numbers.
Based on their area code and the name of the school building they had mentioned, I was able to identify the college. I then asked them what email address of mine I had given them, which supplied me with a name.
I used the name and college to track down the real person on Facebook they were trying to contact and that gave me a wealth of information.
I didn't let it play out too long because I didn't want to actually screw up any assignment, but it did seem like there may have been some chemistry between these two.
I never ended up confessing and just told the girl to contact me solely through email, so I sometimes wonder what ended up happening.
Wedding Bell Dues
Not a PI, but my husband is not on FB. He's introverted and did not keep in touch with any of his friends. It was important for me that he invite some to our wedding. He said he didn't know how to get in touch with them. He knew his 4 college roommates names. A few were on FB and I was able to friend them to get their addresses. The last one was not, and the other roomies hadn't been in touch with him either.
All my husband knew was a name (common) and "i think he lived in Lancaster PA". I couldn't find him off that on FB, so I ran a background check on him. It was around $25. Report had his mom's name on it. I fb stalk her, searched her friends with the same last name, and found a young lady. Fb message the girl asking if she is related the roomie and she was his sister who gave me his address. I felt pretty proud that I was able to track him down. And yes, he attended the wedding!
Not A Forensic Expert
Private Eye here. We usually get hired to document someone's day. We try and gather as much info on them and get as much video of them in public as possible, without losing them or getting caught onto. Not all of it is workman's comp, but usually along the lines of someone making a claim and we go out and see what their activity level is like.
We're not out to "catch" anyone, just obtain video and facts.
We may watch someone to make sure they are getting specific care during specific times and things like that. A lot of people do have certain restrictions, which they are always breaking.
I've been doing it 10 years and i don't know if everyone is full of sh*t, or they just give us the cases where they think there's some f*ckery afoot, but most of them are doing things they shouldn't be doing and we get it all on video. However, the clients don't even read the reports, and we rarely go to court.
The Case Of The Sketchy Day Care
Not a PI but want to be after this: I'm a single mom of two toddler boys. Their dad moved out of town forcing me to put them in daycare which I tried to avoid at all costs. Since I am a single mom I qualified for a program that pays for the care. Its a county program. I was to find the daycare, put them in contact with the program, the program's provider services are then to do background and licensing checks, etc, before they approve the care. 2 months into using this daycare service, I pick up my boys after work and my 1 year old has clear handprints and bruises on both sides of his face, bruised ears, lump on the back of his head and a cut.
She kept telling me that he ran into a sliding glass door... I took him straight to the ER, called social services and the police. The next day I take him to his doctor and the abuse center for evaluations. Their official diagnosis was that we was "repeatedly slapped and choked by an adult". Days pass with no call from the police, no calls from cps, and nothing from licensing. So I start to call around myself. CPS dropped the case as it did not happen at home and licensing was never forwarded the report. The police told me it would be a while before someone gets to my case. So I do my own due diligence for my son.
I file the report myself with licensing and when they asked for her name I give it to them.....but they have no one by that name in her system. I give them the address of the daycare.....not in their system. I'm beyond confused as I KNOW she is a licensed daycare facility because she was approved for use by the county. I call the county program and cut off the care and said while I am at it, could they provide me with the license number they have on file for her as well as the address she provided them with. They give me the license and a different address than the one I have been taking my son to. I call back Licensing and they put in the license number and it is not registered to her, but to her sister. Someone I have never met before.
The address they have on file for that license is the same address she provided to the county program. This is illegal and fraud. I ask them how I can get copies of records on this license number and it turns out there is a website that will provide all information in the last 4 years attached to the license. So I start digging. She was on the license at one point, before being removed in OCT 2017. She had 3 cases of abuse that were all dropped, and was finally removed last OCT when a baby died in her care!
I call police and they still tell me to wait! I am furious as to how this could all be missed. I continue to dig and do an online search of the license number. Multiple ads pop up. There are at least three daycares and three different addresses using this one license number (license for family daycares are for 1 address and persons named on license only) All sisters. So after three days I take to facebook and post the photos and my rant and they go viral! The police station called me the next morning! Different detective different station. The people made such a fuss and called so many times that they found someone to handle the case immediately. I handed them everything I found and said " this should save you some work".
During the investigation they ended up finding things that got the FBI involved. They put surveillance her house and saw things that led to a raid. They found lots of guns and drugs and arrested her husband (Which I was under the impression she did not have!) and seized their cars and phones and intercepted all mail. All of this while she is still running her daycare and being fined a few hundred every day she is opened. She didn't have a care in the world.
They arrested her yesterday for 3 felonies! With fighting this we have been able to reopen other cases dropped and get justice for 2 other babies as well! Her bail is set for $200,000 but her husbands was much higher and she bailed him out instantly. Guess you can afford it when you run a drug business and a daycare at once!
You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, or so the saying goes.
The same can be said for your interactions with cops, most of whom are perfectly happy to let minor infractions slide––When was the last time you were actually ticketed for jaywalking?––provided you're not a total Karen should you interact them.
Your local police officer likely doesn't care about jaywalking or the fact that you went five miles over the speed limit unless you give him a reason to, as we learned when Redditor Takdel asked police officers: "What stupid law have you enforced just because someone was an a-hole?"