Thursday, September 23, 2010

Just Another Day In P.I. Paradise

I took a very early ferry out yesterday morning. First one. The sun hadn't risen, the fog was thick over Puget Sound.
I was up most of the night before investigating on the computer.
I recall looking at the clock and seeing the 3:30 am light and realizing the boat I was taking would be in less than two hours.
I remember setting my alarm to allow for for 1.5 hours sleep.
For an unknown reason.... and the first time... I chose the "rooster crowing wake up call" on my cell,  thinking that would somehow soften the blow of such an early rising.
No such luck.
The Droid Rooster is a horrible wake up call.
It was worse than the nightmare I was having.

It gets harder and harder as you get older to pull all-nighters. Though there are certain advantages.
Like no phones ringing.
Complete and total quiet.
P.I. data-bases don't shut down at night.
Computers run faster.
And when you are investigating Defendants on My Space, Facebook, and every other Social Network site you can imagine, it's like looking in windows, through photo albums, reading minds, tracking actions and being 100% invisible.
What continues to amaze me is the fact that many people don't have a clue  that what they post on their Facebook walls is revealing, can be used as evidence... and some cases, incriminate them.

The day this concept first hit home for me was when I took on a case the Defendant claimed was our client's fault. The lawyers and their client didn't want to sue.... to go to trial. They preferred to settle out of court.
However, the Defendant, a 23 year old male college student, refused to accept liability for the accident. His version of events just didn't add up, yet he insisted his insurance company take the case to trial.
Then I got a call from the Attorney I was working the case with. He was laughing and said just six words. The DEF's first and last name, plus "Go to My Space."
Then he said, "I'll hold on."
So off to the DEF's My Space  I went and it was a gold-mine of incriminating evidence.
My laughter soon melded with the attorney's.
The kid was not just a liar, he was an idiot.
Not only did the DEF post about the accident the night it happened, with photos of his car...
he also documented every hour of that entire evening, every drink in his hand during the party he was at before he hit our client head-on. He was clearly drinking all day.
And even better than that, he added these words, "missed a curve... ouch" on his Twitter account.
His insurance company settled out of court.

When I first became a P.I., I spent much of my time in courthouses,  countless hours, cruising through microfilm, hand- pulling records. These days, it's amazing what can be gathered through a computer, public records, a state license, and by following all Federal and State privacy laws.

Now I think Facebook takes Private Investigation to a whole new level.
Even the FBI is here.
Facebook is quite the info source for an Investigator.
And a good P.I. can usually find a back door in.

Facebook has also become a graveyard of sorts. There are memorials set up for the deceased.
And for the living, who've been stalked,  insulted, or go into hiding, there are always cybertrails to follow when you need to find them.

So before you post something on your wall think about what you are posting.
PI's are much like truffle hounds.
Once we're on a scent, we're relentless.
And following that scent is much easier now... especially with today's social media.
So be careful what you say and post.
It could come back to haunt you.


  1. I have so many friends across the country that I need to keep up with, but its still really tempting to delete my facebook. The more I read things like this, the more I delete photos, even non-incriminating ones.

    Someone just linked me to an article talking about how facebook sends pictures of its users for criminal investigation.

    Its a poorly written article that admits it has no hard evidence. I thought I'd run it by you to get your take. I'm a huge fan of your blog and when I see stuff like this I immediately think of you.

  2. Ok well now I feel dumb, as you have already posted the same link! Ignore that part of my previous comment :)

  3. evermore, thanks so much for the feedback and hey, never feel dumb for posting dupes, typos, whatever. the fact that you even care enough to comment means the world to this blogger. than you for your kind works.