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Three Keys to Success in Investigations

I have had people ask me how can they become a successful investigator?  I sat down the other day and came up with these three key points.  If you really want to succeed as an investigator, you need to continually learn new ideas and methods, but not forget about the basics.  With all of the electronic shortcuts, some investigators forget to actually investigate things, which is a shame.  The following are the three key points I have come up with:

1. One of the most important things I know for anyone to have in their work is a passion to do well in their job.  This passion may be that you just really love what you do.  I for one am one of those people that really love what I am doing right now.  I am a people person, and I am constantly meeting people all the time and I love the interaction.

 I also love studying people and their behavior.  I know of no other job that lets me do this – including being a psychologist.  They almost never get to study people when they are totally unaware that they are being observed.  If you are a people person, loving the investigations business and having a passion for your work can come easy.

2. Another key element to success in investigation, is perseverance.  Now, I know that you will not always be compensated to persevere, so we cannot always check out every single lead to the end.  But you need to have the never-give-up attitude.  When your clients see this attitude in you – you give them the confidence that you will succeed.

This does not mean you will always catch a cheater cheating.  It also does not mean that you will catch the fraudulent insurance or disability claimant.  Sometimes they are not cheating.  Sometimes the claimant is really disabled.  You cannot make them actually cheat or commit fraud.  Also, sometimes they can just avoid being caught for a period more than your client can afford to pay you.

3. Honest self criticism is necessary for you to continually improve as an investigator.  For the inexperienced investigator, I suggest finding an experienced friend who will do this with you.  Do not get offended if they find something you have missed or have done wrong.  Be open to suggestions, even from people who are not “experts” as new ideas should always at least be considered.

What I have done when doing self criticism, is that when I notice I did something wrong, or I missed something, I make a note of it, both in the file, and in a notebook I use for generic notes for myself.  In a recent case, I forgot something as basic as to confirm the identity of someone I was interviewing.  I feel silly for doing it, but I did not even realize I did it until I wrote the report of the investigation.  You can bet that is not going to happen again.  When I make mistakes in an investigation, I do not charge the client to correct the issue, because that one is on me.

If you do these three things on a consistent basis, you will have good investigations that get better as time goes on.  Always study, learn, and especially learn from your mistakes.  Becoming not just a good, but an exemplary investigator is goal I have, and you can attain that goal yourself with a little self discipline.

Cell Phone Recon - a Review

I decided to try out Cell Phone Recon.  I installed it on my own phone to see how it performs and what all it really does.  Here is what I can do.  I can see what calls came into the phone, calls made from the phone, text messages to and from the phone.  Emails to and from the phone (though some of these have not been tracked well).  I also can track where I have been (via the cell phone) by GPS.  Also you can switch phones when you want - but you can only monitor one phone at a time.

The program has a way to back up all of this information.  I initially tried it out so I could recommend (or not ) the product.  I decided it works really well, and I am going to keep it on the phone for 2 reasons.

1.  It is a great CYA tool for work.  I can prove where I have been and calls I have made, etc.
2.  It is a good security tool for the phone.  If my phone gets lost/stolen - I can find it via cell phone recon. I really like that idea.

Over all cell phone recon works as advertised.  It is a great tool for you to use in investigations (if used properly under the law) and a great security feature for your own phone.

I highly recommend this product.  You can get it from Brickhouse Security

Whatever you do - stay safe!

No Excuse for Shoddy Investigation!

 Photo: Melissa Phillip / © 2011 Houston Chronicle
Whenever you have a criminal case - one of the most basic things is to check the criminal history of the defendant.  Often this information cannot be used against the defendant during the trial.  However, it always can be used for the defendant in the trial.

This basic step of investigation really stands out in the case of LaDondrell Montgomery.  He was wrongfully convicted of robbery.  How do I know he was wrongfully convicted?  He was in jail at the time!

It seems more and more I come across cases with shoddy investigative work.  Why the basics are over looked in felonies baffles me.  Sure, in our age of surveillance cameras and instant information, there are a lot of things that  make our job easier.  However, you cannot get away from the basics in a good investigation.  If you do, it may just bite you in the butt.

See more about the story here.