When we compare the private investigation industry as it exists in the United Kingdom and the United States, it’s tempting to succumb to the popular and pervasive stereotypes of PIs from film and literature. Certainly, in the eyes of the British public, a Yank detective is wise-cracking, moustachioed, handsome, and also is Tom Selleck. I can only imagine that this runs both ways, and across the pond, people think I look like Sherlock Holmes, complete with the daft hat.

I think it would come as no surprise that modern detectives in the two countries are more similar than different. Still, there are some gaping ravines between our day-to-day practices that cannot be ignored. Mostly, I believe these distinctions mirror wider cultural differences, but it’s still interesting to note how this manifests in our investigative work.

Did you know, for example, that, proportionally, there are twice as many private investigators in the US as in the UK? There are 3 private investigators for every 10 000 US citizens, while there are only 3 for every 20 000 UK citizens.

There are probably hundreds of factors at play causing this discrepancy. Interestingly, it’s not the ease with which one can become a PI. As we’ll see, it’s actually easier to get into the industry in the UK.

Legislation and Regulation

The variation among state laws means that I can’t make blanket statements about the legalities of investigators in the United States. Still, there are recurring trends across the states. With the exception of just five, all US states and The District of Columbia require Private Investigators to be licensed. What you’ll need to get a license also varies, but in general, you need to be at least 21 years old, a citizen of the US, and to have a High School Diploma.

Most things here tend to be more tightly regulated than in the land of freedom, although private investigation in the UK is something of an exception. Yes, we may have strict laws, covering everything from television adverts to energy prices, but there are no legal barriers preventing someone in the UK from becoming a private investigator. Anyone can do it, regardless of educational background, criminal record, or age.

Somewhat bizarrely, you can get a license from the government, but it’s not a legal requirement.  Many investigators here opt to do this as a mark of professionalism, however you will find some reputable investigators choose not to get a license.

To get the license, you’ll need to pass the very Englishly-named “Fit and Proper Persons” test. Broadly speaking, this is a background check that ensures you meet the requirements to fulfil a certain role. You also need to be over the age of 18, have the right to live and work in the UK, and pay a £220 fee.

Additionally, the license involves completing a Level 3 BTEC in Professional Investigation, which is a vocational certificate covering aspects of the work including responsible data handling, civil procedure, and investigation planning.

The courses can be quite pricey, but I think a good one would give someone a strong foundation when starting out. Not everyone who becomes a private investigator has to have years of experience in the army or government intelligence. Viewing private investigation as a legitimate career path, and not just a retirement hobby can only be a good thing, in my opinion.

Plans for Regulation

The reason why an official private investigator license is available but not enforced is that, in 2001, the government released plans to properly regulate the industry through the newly-established Security Industry Authority (SIA). Among other things, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the 2008 financial crisis derailed these plans, as government attention was drawn elsewhere.

Various cutbacks that resulted from the unexpected surprises at the start of this millennium mean that the legislation for PI regulation is lying dormant. Throughout the 2000s and 2010s, a small number of murmurings could be heard among backbench officials and legislators, but ultimately nothing has come of it to date. I believe this to be yet another symptom of the British mentality. It doesn’t surprise me at all that the legislation is basically stuck in a queue.

I’m rather ambivalent about the plans for regulation. It’s not an issue that I take an official stance towards. On the one hand, I’m passionate about fostering a culture of quality investigative service. I’m licensed, and I see the benefit of licensing others. Holding prospective PIs to a basic standard of performance and testing for basic knowledge certainly could raise the average standard.

On the other hand, unscrupulous PIs who are willing to abscond with their clients’ money probably aren’t averse to falsifying licenses. The legislative proposals seem wise in theory, but I’m not sure that, practically speaking, installing more financial barriers for professional investigators will actually do the public much good anyway.

 

Carrying Weapons

The idea of a PI carrying a weapon would be horrifying to most people here, but it seems to be a lot more common over the Atlantic. When the legal paperwork is in order, it seems to be standard for an American PI to carry a gun.

Given the widespread availability of firearms in the US, I can see the necessity there, but it’s not a phenomenon that translates well overseas. I’d be forced to call the police if I suspected a colleague or an associate of even owning a handgun, let alone taking one out on jobs.

I’m not here to take a stance on gun control in the US. Frankly, I don’t know enough to have a real opinion. I just thought it was an interesting quirk of US investigations that obviously stems from a big cultural difference between the two nations.

Ultimately bar the regulatory limits, which may well be subject to change, PIs in both countries are more or less the same. We’re all bound by the same laws as ordinary members of the public, and we have no extra legal powers. Differences like the carrying of weapons are fundamentally caused by legal disparity.

I’d love to be able to paint the investigative industry in my country as fascinating and exotic, but like most things in our work, the truth just isn’t that exciting. We don’t wear deer-stalking caps, and we don’t have a direct phone line to The Queen. In the words of Maya Angelou, “we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”

Written by John Eastham Private Investigator United Kingdom

Coming to an inbox near you: Companies claiming to offer online CCW certifications. Is it legit? Not in California!
With gun sales and Concealed Carry permit applicants surging across California – and the nation – it’s no surprise that predators using deceptive sales practices or outright scams are clamoring to prey upon the uninformed. Gun laws vary by state, meaning that what is legal in one may not fly in another. By staying vigilant about local regulations, you can protect yourself from falling victim.

A local LA County resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, contacted Paramount Investigative Services after opening an email that sounded too good to be true. He pistol holstersaw an ad for a CCW course, offered completely online. With the backlog of applicants resulting in waitlists at local firearms stores for CCW courses, the email made big promises about an online CCW course offering. With everything else moving to an online format recently in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, he thought it might be possible that the course was legit.

It turns out that the email was deceptive and predatory – but not exactly a scam. Ken Childs, Lead Investigator for Paramount Investigative Services Inc. did some digging and discovered a slew of similar services and emails going out to LA County residents. He found that many companies are using purchased email spam lists to market their certifications to consumers – without regard to the local laws of their home state. The most “legitimate” of these deceptively market a certification path created available through the state of Virginia. A Virginia law allows for issuance of a Concealed Carry permit for an out-of-state resident, which can be obtained entirely online. This is legal in Virginia, but not everywhere else.

In California for example, no out-of-state permits or licenses for firearm carrying of any type are honored. The state also does not issue permits or licenses to out-of-state residents.
There are some states that will honor the Virginia certification however, but only 29 of them.

Taking a closer look at one such website, CertifiedCCW.com, it’s easy to see where the deceptive sales practices begin:
“To ensure that you can exercise your constitutional right to bear arms, we’ve created this certified gun safety course that you can take from the comfort of your own home,” the website touts. “The State of Virginia issues concealed carry permits to residents and non-residents of ALL 50 states.”

The site tip toes around the fact that this certification – legal in Virginia – is not honored in California, though emailed indiscriminately to California residents. The website includes a disclaimer that refunds are only issued if Virginia denies your application for a permit. There will be no refunds considered for those who mistakenly believe the course will be honored in their state.

The best way to ensure any out-of-state licenses are honored in your state of residence is to look up your local laws on a government website.
California residents should refer to the state’s Bureau of Firearms, at https://oag.ca.gov/firearms

How to add your date & time stamp in your video with Final Cup Pro X.

Or

FCPX Like a boss! (A Private Investigator Boss!)

So every few months things change on you from your software or your devices like your camcorder etc. and now you’re having difficulties with adding your date & time stamp. Or you simply want to catch up with the times! I strongly recommend Final Cut Pro X if your semi tech savvy. This software took my video to the next level. There are a few caveats; the software is only good for Mac, the processing time is going to rely on your machine’s ability to crunch video etc.

So with that being said, let’s get started. Download and open final cut pro. Then start a new library. Second, you should start and a new project. I usually use a claim number, file number or my subjects last name for ease of use. Now you’re ready to begin.

Click the image to watch our video:

Take you camera or SD card and drag the video to your external hard drive. Once transferred, remove your device/SD card. At this stage, I would recommend deleting all of your downloads, cache out of your library, and empty out your trash. This will free up space on your machine. This is vital when exporting. If you have a lot of video and you know your machine doesn’t have much hard drive space, I would work in batches. (and again, delete FCPX library backups, cache & trash for space. It is a few extra steps but the last thing you want is your video freezing up because you don’t have enough disk space.)

 

Now, select and drag your video into the lower time line. The video will drop and in numerical order. Let’s select all {Command + A} and then head to the top left and find “clip” and in that drop down, select “detach audio.” You will see your Audio will detach from the video into a new green field in the time line. Select all audio files and hit the delete button. No more audio flubs or worries!  Lord only knows what you’ve said while you were twisted like a pretzel and trying to shoot video!

Now that the audio is out of the way, I suggest a quick glance over your video and if you have some unnecessary long clips without the subject or maybe some unnecessary time shots, I’d recommend cutting the few clips or cut longer ones down.

Finally we can work on the date & time!

Go to your TITLES! (upper left of the FCP window) Select the “T” final cut pro imageOnce the titles pop out, locate the “Date/time” title. You can simply select it and drag it just above the video clips. Sadly, you have to adjust it to fit the length of the video clip. And you’ll need to do this to every video clip. However to save you some time, you can use “hot Keys” to copy & past the Date/Time over the video clips. (Command & C and to paste, you use Command & V).

If you know your video is going to court I would stop here, review the video and if all is well, export it. (Upper right corner; small box with an arrow)

KISS method folks! Nothing fancy or applicants attorney will make it look like you’re a video production expert and that you’ve “edited the video.

Stay away from the word “edit.” You only imported the video, used the software for the date & time stamp. If you had to cut the video I would keep two versions; long & short. When in court you can say you’ve cut the video down to save the court “your honor’s time” and you have the full version for everyone if need be.

I hope this helps and Happy Hunting.

Admin

If you have any suggestions on how we can improve FYI or for our next article. Please email us at admin@findyourinvestigator.com.

How to improve your security during online dating

In recent years, many people have turned to online dating apps, which make it easier to meet people from all over the world. Much as this is an advantage, online dating has attracted scammers, whose main aim is to lure and steal from their online lovers. With the Covid-19 quarantine, scammers have become even easier to lie to their victims, using the global lockdowns and quarantines as an excuse. Here are some of the risks you may face while dating online.
● Romance Fraud
Romance frauds are a form of cat fishing, where the scammer creates a bogus online identity. This person might use stock photos and fake names or steal someone’s identity. They usually claim to be stuck in jobs that keep them outside the country, such as working in the army, oil rigs, or NGOs. They target people who seem vulnerable, especially widows, widowers, or divorcees, and spend months grooming the victim and winning trust, then ask for money, which is given because of the already built trust.
● Webcam blackmail
These scams, also known as sextortion, involve criminals befriending someone online and convincing them to perform sexual acts in front of a webcam. These acts are recorded, and the victim later blackmailed into giving the scammers money to prevent exposure.
● Phishing scams
These scams attempt to get you to divulge your personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. The scammer may get you to trust them, and then attempt to phish you.
How to protect yourself
1. Do not chat on the phone
Most scammers like to rush their victims to move off the dating app platform, which might flag the conversations. Do not let the person rush you to moving from the app to chatting on the phone via Whatsapp or SMS.
2. Meet in public places
If the new dating app partner wants to meet, make sure you meet in a public place, and ensure someone knows where you will be at all times.
3. Use a VPN
Stay anonymous with a VPN (Virtual Private Network), which hides your IP address and your real location. This ensures the person you are communicating with does not know your exact location from your IP address, no matter what tools he uses on his end.
4. Use Google Voice number
This service is free and allows you to create an extra number that makes cheap international calls, free domestic calls, and has spam call filters. This way, the scammer cannot tell your real number.
Conclusion
Online dating is an attractive and easy way to meet new people, but needs to be used with caution. Ensure you take measures when you meet a new person and first confirm they are who they say they are. Never flirt on a webcam and never send money to anyone or on behalf of anyone. Meet the person in a public place and watch out for red flags mentioned above.

How Do I find my birth Parents?

What is Genealogy, and how could a private investigator help me? Genealogy is the study of one’s ancestry or family lineage. Often times and especially these days, with life being hectic, we lose track of one another Or adoptees may feel a missing link and want to know who their biological parents are. What do you do once you’ve exhausted all of your family resources and have nowhere else to go? You turn to a private investigator who specializes in Genealogy. These specialized investigators can help walk you through the process and help you uncover the mystery.

What is Genealogy investigations and how can it help?

Who are my birth parents

So what is the next step? There are a few things one should consider while searching for their birth family. The last thing you want to do is disturb or even out your birth family. How do you do that without learning the truth? How do you not offend your adopted family and seem not grateful?
You’ll need to obtain any adoption paperwork available by your adopted parents and the county court where your adoption was finalized. Still not enough information to uncover your biological family. Have you registered your search information known to you on websites, and nothing is happening. What do you do next?
It’s time to test your DNA via saliva at www.ancestry.com. DNA is a game-changer! You simply spit in a tube and wait six weeks for the results. Once the results are back, you’ll have a combination of DNA relatives from your unknown maternal and paternal side with names! Though this information can be overwhelming (even to seasoned genealogists), you’re in the right place. Now is where a private investigator versed in genealogy and the science of genetic genealogy can help you complete your ancestry journey.