When speaking with sources becomes essentialWoman on phone

Sometimes, nothing fills in the blanks better than human intelligence

When a client hires us to find out more about a person, we first work discreetly behind the scenes to provide information about a person’s assets, lifestyle and character. This helps our clients determine whether to pursue legal action, build a case against an opposing witness, move forward with a significant business venture, or resolve a personal issue.

But sometimes, there’s not enough in the public domain, and answers remain elusive.

We recently encountered a situation like this. After a search of public records and social media, we still had little insight into our subject. This is when we started asking ourselves who might know this person.

Sources of human intelligence

Investigators can go a few different directions when searching for people who can help a case. If you’re hiring private intelligence to find information about an elusive individual, you may be asked:

  • Has this person burned bridges or had a falling-out with anyone in the last few years?
  • What is their current position? Where did they work previously? If they’re self-employed, who are their vendors, their partners, and their clients? Are you aware of any past business partnerships that ended badly?
  • Who may have known this person in the past? Even if we can find a person who didn’t know the individual well, they can often point us to other people who did.

We found sources who eventually answered questions our client had about the individual, which our client was able to use, ultimately avoiding trial in court.

The risks of talking to sources

For the client, the risk is that a subject will find out. A client must decide whether this risk is OK.

For the investigator, the key challenge is how to get useful information legally. In a criminal or civil trial, important information can be inadmissible if obtained through misrepresentation. An investigator needs to be extremely honest and direct.

This work can be tricky. Because within this challenge lies another: how to get strangers to open up to you, especially about a sensitive matter they may not be inclined to discuss? We’ll tackle that topic in an upcoming edition.

In the meantime, if you’ve searching for information about someone important, please contact us at [email protected] or 415-905-0462 for a free, private consultation.