***Please note that I am not an attorney, and that this article should not be regarded as legal advice.
In all matters pertaining to appropriate investigative conduct,please confer with your legal
counsel to be sure that you are not breaking any laws.
I’ve been a private investigator in Massachusetts for over 20 years.
I specialize in surveillance and locates.
Prior to becoming a MA private investigator, I was an insurance claim adjuster.
Because you have your share of high-exposure and challenging claims, you are likely anxious to
have investigative results in the hope of mitigating the claim, or at least, reducing your exposure.
Many of my clients are having the same difficulty because their private investigators aren’t getting
the information they need in order for their clients to take action on their "problem claims".
This happens in many cases and there may be several explanations:
1) The claimant is wary and behaving in a careful manner.
2) The claimant resides an area where the logistics present investigative challenges for conducting surveillance.
3) The claimant is aware of the likelihood that a private investigator may be watching him/her.
If your private investigator is coming up empty, maybe it’s time to try a different investigator.
Or, maybe its time to try some new tactics.
Luckily, it often takes just one significant finding to turn the investigation around.
Here are some things you might want your private investigator to try, in order to get the results you need:
Have your private investigator conduct surveillance on successive days.
If there is significant activity on the first day, then video on the following day
will deprive the claimant from using the age-old defense, “I felt strong when
you see me in the video, but the next day I was in pain…”.
Let your MA private investigator conduct for-fee database searches.
For under $100, the search can provide previous addresses; names/address
(present and past) of relatives or significant others (and their past addresses);
names of those who may have lived with the subject; property ownership;
bankruptcies, liens, judgments, civil/criminal, small claims a actions, vehicle
registrations, boat ownership, and a lot more.
Search local court records and court records in the counties the subject has previously lived in.
Schedule a surveillance to coincide with the subject’s
birthday/anniversary…or that of a significant other.
Because people tend to spend their birthdays with those with whom they are closest,
it stands to reason that it would be a good window of opportunity to have a private
investigator conduct a surveillance.
However, there is more information that can be inferred by conducting surveillance in this manner:
There are three probable outcomes:
a) Subject stays home; no one visits. Perhaps the subject doesn't’t care, is a loner, or is actually injured.
b) Subject stays home; has company. These people are, most likely, the closest friends and relatives.
Writing down the tag numbers of those vehicles present can result
in having a list of the subject’s closest friends and relatives.
c) Subject goes to an unknown residence. Again, your private investigator (MA and RI) can note
the vehicles tags on all vehicles arriving/leaving, as they may all be the subject's friends.
If the claimant had worked 2nd or 3rd shift, have your MA private investigator conduct
surveillance to coincide with those waking/sleeping hours.
They may keep the same schedule, even though they are not working.
It has been my experience that people under 30 would be more likely to “party” on a
Friday night, whereas people over 30 are likely to have exhausted their energy and wait until Saturday night.
Have your MA private investigator ask the employer check the subject's job application for the following information:
a) “In case of emergency please notify...”. Generally, you’ll find the person most trusted by the claimant, if not the closest person.
b) References listed. An employer who also was a reference may potentially be the person who hires your claimant “under-the-table”.
c) Memberships, organizations, hobbies, sports, affiliations, awards and anything else that
might provide additional insight into the subject. Anything listed here will give your MA
private investigator some avenues worth exploring.
Conduct a series of spot checks of the subject residence on various days, at various times.
Note whether or not the subject (or other significant individuals) are present.
Over time, a pattern may be established. For example, you may note that the subject’s
vehicle is never home on Thursday evenings.
A thorough internet and newspaper search should be conducted, if it hasn't’t been done already.
Obituaries are full of information that identifies family members, and frequently,
the towns in which they live. Arrests, marriage announcements (the best men/bridesmaids
are probably the claimant’s best friend), and other mentions of the claimant may help predict future activity.
A search of court records (criminal/civil/housing/probate/divorce) can yield a lot of significant information
about the subject’s past, his/her associates, habits and special interests.
Even financial information can be found in the files.
“Dumpster-diving” should also be considered. Retrieving the claimant’s trash for subsequent
perusal can yield phone bills, credit card receipts, letters and a wide variety of helpful documentation.
Or an very foul-smelling mess of no value whatsoever.
Still, it’s well worth it for your private investigator to do this.
Currently, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts considers discarded trash left on public property
for municipal cleanup, as fair game for investigators because those who have discarded it have
given up the right to privacy, in regards to those items.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that the state of New Hampshire has recently ruled against this practice,
so please bear this in mind.
Get a shredder, everyone!
If you’re positive that the claimant knows he/she is likely to be surveilled at his IME,
you should still conduct surveillance, but consider using two different investigators.
The claimant may purposely behave in a manner that might best be described as “symptom magnification”,
by exaggerating their symptoms, with the expectation they will be videotaped.
The reason this is desirable is because any subsequent footage of the subject at moments
when he is unaware, will show an even bigger disparity between how the subject really presents,
and how he/she behaved at their medical exam.
The greater the disparity, the greater the indication of fraud.
Why a 2nd surveillance vehicle?
Because they can "leapfrog", to avoid detection and enable them to carry out an extended
surveillance with greater ease. Or, if the MA private investigator is certain that the claimant is
aware of an active surveillance, the first one should make it look as though he’s trying
to follow the claimant,but then get held up at a traffic light, for example.
Once the claimant feels they have lost their “tail”, they may not notice the second investigator, and let their guard down.
Because of the high exposure, you may have to spend a little more for your private investigator
to complete the investigations effectively, but it will be a worthwhile investment.
Just one successful case can have a great impact on your financial bottom line.
Keith L. Walker is a MA private investigator and founded
Discovery Services Investigations (MA and RI) in 1993.
Contact us today!
Talk with an experienced private investigator in MA about your claim investigation needs.
"Get the Truth. Get the Proof."