Deskbound but Dangerous

Featured imageA good investigator in this day and age develops internet search and background investigation skills. The more information you have before you hit the street, the better your chances of documenting the truths that some claimants would prefer to keep hidden.

In this instance, “the street” would not come into play. Our assignment was internet background and social media investigation. Our subject was represented, the accident was low impact and a policy limits demand was coming.

Normally the first question is whether the subject is active on social media and careless about his claimed injuries and disabilities in that forum. But in this case, the first question became whether the subject had social media accounts – his name appeared nowhere on Facebook, Twitter and the rest.

A momentary setback – there are, as my grandmother used to say, more ways to skin a cat than one. I ran a comprehensive background check and located family and known associates. Then I checked their social media sites. If he was active on the internet, these would be the people he was in touch with.

Pay dirt. Our subject was all over the social media sites of family and associates. It turns out our subject was, among other things, a performer and entertainer. And did all his social media postings and communications under various stage names. As a performer who, in his own mind, was deserving of way more than 15 minutes of fame, he was enormously active on Facebook, YouTube and the like. Best of all, he considered himself invisible to the insurance carrier against which he was making the claim, and was almost boastful as to the exaggerated damages. On Facebook he posted a comment along the lines of, “My lawyer says I need to keep treating to make my case worth more money…” YouTube video showed no sign of injury or disability. Furthermore, in the process of doing the background search I had learned that the subject had a significant criminal record.

Needless to say our client was thrilled. What would have been a long, drawn out and messy battle with a plaintiff attorney settled quickly for ten cents on the dollar of the initial demand.

I like the street and I like the personal interaction that is often part of investigation. But if the assignment calls for me to stay in the office, give me an internet connection and I can in many instances be equally as dangerous to fraudsters as I am with a video recorder behind tinted windows in the back seat of a car.

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