Archive for the ‘Surveillance’ Category
That pesky weather bulletin that you are getting, you know the one that keeps “popping up” on your cell phone? That text message to call a number that is listed in the text, you know the one that looks like there is some kind of a dire emergency that you need to be warned about? BEWARE, these could very well be some unethical Private Investigator trying to locate your exact geographical position! Yeah, REALLY!
The average consumer is probably unaware of how many times a day his or her privacy is violated. The average consumer is probably unaware that at any give time most Private Investigators and Collection Agencies, Repossession Agencies can find a person’s exact location. Thanks to sites like “Skip Smasher” you’ll never know if that Weather Bulletin is a real weather alert that was sent to you strictly to warn you about weather conditions, or if it is someone trying to find out what your exact location is. Below is the description from “Skip Smasher” of the service it offers to it’s customers:
This is actually a wonderful way to invade someone’s privacy and claim it is legitimate because they have location services turned on, on their phone. The problem is that this method uses subterfuge to exploit your location bases services that were originally designed to help drives and hikers navigate. What happens is the weather bulleting starts to pop up and nag the unsuspecting victim and it asks the unsuspecting victim if they would like to opt out of receiving these alerts, when the unsuspecting victim does this the opt out process captures the unsuspecting victim’s location and sends it to a server where it is processed and sent to the person paying to have this service in the form of a Google Map with as much details as can be processed on the unsuspecting victim’s location.
Enter Robert Scott, the man that owns “Skip Smasher” and who is making good money off of showing Private Investigators how to exploit your privacy. And he does not care at all that this could be an invasion of privacy, because he is a Private Investigator himself and that is how he markets this service, as a service for Investigative Professionals by Investigative Professionals. Actually what happens here is some Private Investigator uses this to locate you, the unsuspecting citizen for someone that is paying that Private Investigator money. And the service is CHEAP! For under five dollars ($5.00) a Private Investigator can use this service to “ping” your exact location. Does it not seem a little “creepy” that a person that does not like you, or is obsessed with you, or intends you harm can get someone with this type of technology to find your exact location at almost any given time, for a price? Are you still comfortable with that weather bulletin that just came in on your cell phone?
Okay, so you are a Private Citizen and you want to do something about this. What do you do? Well, right now this service is not illegal, however in 2001 pretexting a cell phone for a third party’s cell phone records was not illegal either. Until Senator Charles Schumer made it illegal to gain another person’s cell phone call details without authorization. If you feel like you don’t want to be the victim of this type of privacy invasion, call your State Representatives, Call your Senators; request that they open an investigation into Robert Scott and “Skip Smasher” . Request that your Senator or your State Representative try to pass new legislation to outlaw this practice. Request that your State Senators and State Representatives send Robert Scott a stern message that it is not acceptable to profit from the wholesale invasion of people’s privacy.
Below are links that will help you find the contact details for your State Senators and State Representatives, if you decide that you don’t want to accept this type of privacy invasion:
California State Representatives Mr. Robert Scott lives in California.
Search State House of Representatives This is the Google Search Link, all you have to do is click it and peruse the results.
Privacy is in short supply. You will find the word “privacy” nowhere in the constitution. But we should all have an expectation that the items we purchase to make our lives a little more comfortable should not be exploited and turned against us to take what little bit of privacy we have left.
I have been on the Internet for a very long time, probably longer than most Private Investigators have. I am always amazed at the information one can find on the Internet. Most of the information on the Internet is information that we freely give about ourselves. Between social networks, email, and the “deep web”, we can find out almost anything about anyone. It has become accepted and even expected that the consumer will inadvertently give out private information about their self on the Internet in current times. But what about Private Investigators? One would think that a Private Investigator would be cautious of what they allow others to see about them and their business on the Internet. Sadly, this does not seem to be the case.
The Private Investigation business is a funny business, while the Private Investigator has to be able to keep his or her case information confidential, he or she also has to find an effective way to advertise or market on the Internet these days, also. Often times Private Investigators blur the lines between marketing and giving out confidential information on the Internet. I was amazed eight years ago when I found a naked picture of one Private Investigator on the Internet. Not surprisingly this Private Investigator was the very person responsible for their naked picture being on the Internet. If this Private Investigator had not sent their naked picture to other unsuspecting people of the opposite sex in email, their picture would have never been found on the Internet. This is just an example of how careless one Private Investigator had become with their information. But there are literally hundreds of examples like this where Private Investigators have shared a little too much on the Internet.
We all remember the Baby Lisa Irwin Case, and one Private Investigator’s attempt to grab some attention by proclaiming how he was working this case, then “backpedaling” and stating that he was blogging this case as an “Investigative Journalist”, right? Look at all of the information and inferences one could make from that situation. First, the question comes to mind; why wouldn’t anyone actually hire him to work this case? Second, one has to wonder was this Private Investigator using his fee based, proprietary databases to cull information on this case, while he was clearly not working as a hired Private Investigator conducting a Private Investigation? Third, was it appropriate to share the results of his investigation with the public, while the Police were conducting an investigation into the disappearance of this infant, if he was not hired by anyone to conduct this investigation? It is one thing to conduct an investigation as a hired Private Investigator where you have an obligation to your client to investigate the case and keep the information that you gather confidential; it is entirely another thing to possibly interfere with a Police investigation by conducting an investigation for the sake of blogging about your findings for a little media attention. And to this day, this Private Investigator has put himself in the unenviable position of not being able to prove that he did one single thing that helped in locating this child; the only thing he did do was make himself look like an attention starved, low-rent Private Investigator that would do anything for a little media attention.
RMRI, Inc. works a good deal of very sensitive cases that go to court and can be “life altering” to our clients if certain critical information were to come out about our cases. RMRI, Inc. has a few hard and fast rules and protocols about how we conduct business and what we choose to let the public know about our business. First, the ONLY time we are working a case is when we have a paying client, we don’t work cases for free in the hopes of getting some media attention. In all cases that go to court, we enter into a contract with the client. If the case is something simple, where a contract is not necessary (such as: serving a summons) we get an email acknowledgement or an on-line acknowledgement that we are working for the client and that the client expects any information we find in the course of doing our work to remain confidential. We NEVER speak to anyone outside of the client and our team members about an active and ongoing case. Even after a case is completely finished we have a ninety (90) day wait time before we can even acknowledge that we had any involvement with the case whatsoever, and then after that ninety (90) days we can not mention anything that identifies the case we can just speak in general terms about the case. Our approach is quite simple; “we don’t want attention, we want to be paid”. We liken our work to that of any other job, we “punch in” and work, we “punch out” and go home, and we collect our pay. We work to make a living, not for glamour and fame.
While it is true that you can find RMRI, Inc.’s company name in certain publications for attorneys and certain news papers and magazines, what you wont find is any specific information about cases we work, such as names, dates, and specific locations. While you might see a mentioning of cases on our website, what you will not see is any specific mentioning of the details of these cases unless they are over seven (7) years old. While you might see a Facebook Page for RMRI, Inc., what you won’t see is any mention of a case we are working. We make tremendous efforts and take great pains at RMRI, Inc. not to blur the lines between advertising and giving out even a hint of information about our clients and our cases. RMRI, Inc. is not so desperate for attention that we are willing to forsake our client’s privacy for some media attention.
RMRI, Inc. is made up of two (2) licensed Private Investigators, one (1) Pending Licensed Private Investigator, one (1) Process Server, two (2) Technical Consultants qualified as Expert Witnesses, and one (1) Secretary and all of our staff have committed to keeping all case and client data at RMRI, Inc. confidential. Each member is well aware that intentionally “leaking” case and/or client information outside of the confines of RMRI, Inc. is grounds for termination and possible civil action.
A Private Investigator’s ability to keep his or her case and client information is paramount. Confidentiality in the Private Investigation Business is a justified expectation of the client. A successful and confident Private Investigator feels no need to boast about their cases or their clients. Confidentiality is the hallmark of any successful Private investigation Business. If you don’t understand confidentiality, you don’t understand the Private Investigation Business!
Private Investigation work is hard work. It is emotionally taxing many times. It is stressful almost all the time. The hours can be rough on a person. Often times Private Investigation work can take a toll on one’s family and/or home environment. And every Private Investigator will find themself with at least a few detractors if they stay in business for only a small amount of time; sometimes the Private Investigator is just not a popular person. There are certainly some liabilities in Private Investigation work. Well all of this is true for the Private Investigator that actually works at being a Private Investigator; anyway. So I guess that a fair question to ask is “why do the work if it can be so difficult and dreadful”? I know that the answer to this question will vary from Private Investigator to Private Investigator. For me there is a single defining moment that made me realize why I continue to do Private Investigation work. I could say it is the money because I have made some pretty good money at this line of work. I could also say that it is the opportunity to manage and own my company. But while those two explanations may be good reasons to stay in this business they are not why I have stayed in this business.
Before I explain that one defining moment that has kept me in the Private Investigation business let me also say that sometimes I get frustrated in this business. Sometimes I get annoyed and irritated in this business. I know that this business has made me more of a callous person that I was before I started doing Private Investigations. I know that I am not a very trusting person now because of some of the things that I have seen and encountered in the Private Investigation business. I fully understand that no business is perfect but yet I do expect competency and integrity from my fellow Private Investigators; and not just as “buzz words” on a webpage but as standards that are practiced in such a way to show that my fellow Private Investigators know what they mean and understand how important they are. I also know that I have become a very “high-strung” person from years of seeing things that I just don’t believe to be fair to other people. There is no doubt that I have become quite outspoken about many of these things; but I am not so sure that this is a bad thing because I think that it does show that I still have a sense of fairness, and compassion for people who are treated unfairly.
Despite all the issues that I have just listed in the past two paragraphs that I seem to grapple with constantly; I still love this profession. I still know that one can make some significant differences in this profession. I still believe that the people in this profession can truly make a difference in people’s lives for the better. And that one defining moment that I mentioned in the first paragraph made me certain of these statements.
In 2004 I received a call from an attorney in Los Angeles, California. This case is 7 years old, so I can write about it now. She had a client whose daughter had been “abducted”. Now this incident was not your traditional abduction where a stranger abducts a person; this was what is known as a parental abduction. Simply put a parental abduction usually occurs when a non-custodial parent that has visitation rights with their child simply picks the child up for visitation and refuses to return the child to the custodial parent. The attorney told me that she had some information that the non-custodial parent was living in Columbia, MO. and she wanted me to see if I could find the non-custodial parent and gather evidence that her client’s daughter was with the non-custodial parent. I was sure that I could help and I told the attorney so. So the attorney had her client call me. Enter Francisco Ochoa, the custodial parent whose daughter was not returned to him by the non-custodial parent after the court ordered visitation. After taking copious notes over the phone with Mr. Ochoa and receiving a retainer from Mr. Ochoa I started my investigation. I did all the investigative work I could from the computer before going in the field as any good Private Investigator would. After I had all the information I could gather from database searches, court records research, running background information on the non-custodial parent, and making phone calls to various people who might be able to give me some leads to follow-up on I went out in the field with 2 other Private Investigators that were licensed under my company. Within seventy-two hours we had found the non-custodial parent’s location, verified the daughter was there, and took several pictures of the daughter at the location. I sent all of this information back to the attorney with the pictures and kept surveillance on the location while the attorney petitioned the court for an emergency custody order showing that Francisco Ochoa was the custodial parent and that the daughter was with the non-custodial parent after the visitation time had elapsed. Within one week Mr. Ochoa was on his way from Los Angeles, California to Columbia, Missouri with that emergency custody order to pick his daughter up. When Mr. Ochoa arrived he and I went to the Columbia Police Department with his emergency custodial order and my evidence of his daughter’s whereabouts and the Columbia Police Department wasted no time at all in getting several Officers out to the address that I had under surveillance to recover Mr. Ochoa’s daughter for him while he waited at the Columbia Police Department. I also had to go out to the address to serve the mother with some paperwork from the court in Los Angeles, California. I remember returning to the Columbia Police Department at about the same time that the Police Officers did with Mr. Ochoa’s daughter. I also remember when Mr. Ochoa’s daughter came up to him that he gave her a big hug and just simply broke down in tears, crying tears of joy that he was reunited with his daughter. I remember this moment in time because I also remember that when I saw this big man crying while hugging his daughter it was all I could do to stop myself from shedding a few tears too. The emotions were simply overwhelming. I can’t begin to describe how emotional that moment was but I can tell you this; I’ll remember it forever. And I thought to myself that there could be no other sense of accomplishment and feeling that I had made a significantly positive impact in these people’s lives greater than what I was experiencing right then and there. I could not think of any other job in the world that I could have that would have allowed me to experience that one moment in time. From that day forward I have not wanted to do anything else other than what I am doing now. If I had to trade in all the money that I made on that case just to experience that one moment in time I’d do it without even as much as a second thought.
This is why I do what I do. These brief moments in time when I know that I made a difference in someone’s life. These moments don’t happen often; they are quite rare. But it only takes one of these defining moments to make all the sacrifice and hard work, all of the frustration and irritation worth being in this profession.
I hope that every Private Investigator in this profession has at least one of those defning moments in the course of their time in this profession.
RIcky B. Gurley
A lot of Private Investigators talk about being ethical having integrity. Often times you can find many Private Investigators touting their ethics and sense of integrity to others like it is an industry standard. And don’t get me wrong, ethics and integrity are wonderful qualities. But in this business, one has to be a lot more than ethical. If you want to succeed in this business, you have got to know how to “get the job done”! You have got to know how to be EFFECTIVE at your job!
Last night I had the pleasure of working with two Private Investigators that are fine examples of what I am referring to in this article. I worked with two Private Investigators that I would say saved a man’s life because they are EFFECTIVE at what they do.
Enter Ana-Maria Ionita and Bernardo Yepes of Grey Ghost Investigation and Security Services. Yesterday Ana-Maria received a call from a family overseas that had a relative here in the USA that had become depressed due to some relationship problems he was having. The family did not know exactly where their relative was, but did have a general area to start looking in. Ana-Maria contacted me to see if I could help her pinpoint the subject, and we did obtain some new information as to the subject’s whereabouts; but we still did not have a precise location on the subject. Ana-Maria and Bernardo got in their car at 8:00 pm last night and drove from Fort Lauderdale, FL. to Miami Beach, FL. and started looking for the subject. They located the subject and kept surveillance on the subject until 6:00 am this morning. Then they made sure he was safe and then followed up this afternoon by checking on him again. They may have very well saved this man’s life by taking the action that they did, and they certainly saved his family a lot of worry and stress. They were EFFECTIVE! Ana-Maria and Bernardo put their convenience on hold on a Friday Night and instead of resting after a long week of work, they went right back out in consideration of another person’s safety and wellbeing. I can’t think of any better people than that. It was a pleasure to work with them, and they are certainly the Private Investigators to go to in the Fort Lauderdale area of Florida if you are in need of a Private Investigator in that area.
Ana-Maria and Bernadro demonstrate what it means to be EFFECTIVE at this job. They are both very ethical people, and they worry about the direction that our profession is heading in. Ana-Maria is a former Florida State Probation Officer and now a hard working Florida Licensed Private Investigator. But her and Bernardo have more than ethics and integrity. They have the one winning quality that it takes to succeed in this business. They have what it takes to get the job done! They are EFFECTIVE at what they do!
You can have all of the ethics in the world, and you can have all of the integrity in the world. You can be thought of as simply beyond reproach by everyone in the world. But if you are not EFFECTIVE at what you do, you are a FAILURE at what you do!