Commercial Surveillance Case Study.
We guard the confidentiality of our clients at all times.
They always seem to think they're going to get away with it. Men, women, short, tall, old, young. Whatever their demographic, they all have one thing in common: eventually they are all going to be caught, and caught by me.
No matter how flawless they think their plans are, how opaque their ploys, how plausible their explanations and excuses, I can see through the smoke and mirrors.
My lenses are clear, my determination outranks theirs.
I have been a PI agent for ten years now and during this time I've seen corporate fraud increase steadily. Since the recession it has almost doubled. In the desperate business world, everyone competing harder just to survive, it's dog eat dog. Company bosses have learnt the hard way. They have learnt to get close to their friends, and even closer to their enemies.
This is where I come in.
My client meets me in an unassuming pub, out of town.
'It's not the sort of place I usually come to,' she says, looking uncomfortable.
'Perfect,' I say, smiling and shaking her hand discreetly.
She hands me a business card.
'That's him,' she says, her tone awkward.
I read the details, take in the features of my next subject.
'I'm sure it's him,' she says. 'But of course, I can't prove it.'
Betrayal, defection, supplying rivals with information and confidential business plans: it's all in a day's work for your regular corporate fraudster. A day's work that's remunerated by the very company they're betraying.
'We'll start tonight,' I reply, sliding the business card into my pocket. 'I'll get the tracker on the car, start the manual surveillance. Have you got his car registration number? And I'll need his home address.'
'Yes,' she replies. 'And I got a copy of his diary for the next week or so. It'll be interesting to see how many of these appointments are genuine.'
'Nine times out of ten, the hunch reflects the reality,' I say. 'Right, you leave first, I'll give you five minutes' head-start. I'll call you when the tracker is up and running online.'
She shakes my hand, nods and leaves. I study the photocopied diary entries, finish my drink and head out.
Here we go again, on the merry-go-round.
Yet another corporate fraudster who thinks they're ahead of the game.
They have no idea there are two players in this game, and it's me who is holding all the cards....
It is the early hours of the next morning; the dead of night. One of my colleagues administers the fatal dose to my subject's complacency: the vehicle tracker. It is our most up to date tracker, which we can view online at any time of the day or night.
A few hours later I set my sights on him, emerging from his neat little 1930s mock-Tudor semi, with sun ray windows and a gravel driveway.
One misconception is that people who commit fraud, who commit any sort of crime, stand out from the crowd. In my experience it is the exact opposite.
This man is average height, middle-thirties, non-descript. Which is probably why he has slipped through the net so far. He might have been doing this for years. But his days are numbered when it comes to pulling a fast one.
I'm perusing his diary for today. What's the betting some of his appointments are cover-ups? I'd say I'm onto a winner.
A short stop at a cafe for coffee out of a polystyrene cup. He is on his mobile for most of the time. I'm close enough to catch his conversations, quick enough to make sure I shadow him as he walks to his first meeting.
A nice enough hotel, if a bit plastic-looking. Fake plants and fake smiles. This meeting seems legit.
A shame, but I'm not out for the count yet. On the contrary, I've only just started.
The tracker shows an unfamiliar location. It is certainly not where his diary says he is supposed to be.
It will be up to him to explain to his boss why he spent two hours on the premises of one of their most virulent business rivals. I'd just love to be a fly on the wall during that particular chinwag....
No doubt his boss will sit him down and invite him to partake in the odd tipple or two. They will discuss how business is going this week, she will ask how the wife and kids are, he will enquire after her family. Then, when he's nice and relaxed, his boss will invite him to a world-exclusive premiere showing of the DVD I made earlier....
Frame by frame, his guilt will be painted over his face, his limbs will tighten, his tongue trying to form words that won't come.
As for me, as soon as I manage to knock one fraudster down, another one pops up, like weeds in the garden.
If I were you, I'd make your business my business....
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