As requested, I am doing an AMA as a Private Investigator. I can't be too specific for confidentiality reasons, but here's my general background:

I work for a national Investigation corporation, and deal primarily in Insurance Fraud investigations.

Here is the link for the original post that formed interest for an AMA:

Ask Away! I'll try my best to answer everyone.

Comments: 279 • Responses: 85  • Date: 

aNonSapient74 karma


ElDochart78 karma

Claim something that is hard to prove medically, the best would be a back injury or a head injury. In these cases the doctor will take your word for it and just sign off.

Both these tend to be red flags, so as soon as you claim, keep an eye out for suspicious vehicles in your neighborhood. These will usually be small dark colored cars with tinted windows. Most investigators wont leave their cars, so this makes them pretty easy to spot. If someone is following you you have two basic options. Either simply wave at them, at which time they will break off, or attempt to trick them by playing the part. If you burn them (what it's called when a claimant acknowledges that they are being followed), the companies can always just send out different investigators, who will be more cautious.

Know your insurance restrictions, and follow them rigidly whenever you are outside your house, whether you think your being followed or not, you never know who might see you.

Get a lawyer! Represented claimants are a lot more difficult to investigate.

If you see you are being followed, and want to act the part, make sure you talk to your neighbors a lot, wave at them when you drive by, ect. This could discourage the investigator from canvassing the neighborhood to find out more information.

stiick29 karma

As a former SIU investigator I would say soft tissue injuries are the hardest to disprove even with a medical peer review. Mechanism for injury is an art and not an absolute science. If anyone is going to attempt to commit insurance fraud, keep in mind that insurance fraud is a felony and not worth getting prosecuted. Even if you get a state jail felony conviction with probation and a fine, your credibility will never recover. An unlike a speeding ticket that expunges over time, your insurance fraud arrest/indictment/conviction will never go away. Insurance fraud is a 20 billion dollar a year business in the us and growing. Dash cams here we come!

ElDochart15 karma


Funkehed6 karma

Aren't back injuries are mostly hernias and protrusions which are easily identified by MRI? Or the fact that most of us already have them makes them hard to prove the link between an accident and the madical aftermath?

ElDochart16 karma

Most of the back injury claims start out as actual, legitimate claims. The person then, not wanting to go back to work, decides to just not tell them that he's better. So much of it is just trying to see whether or not they're still injured.

Grimsterr4 karma

keep an eye out for suspicious vehicles in your neighborhood.

Dead end road with 8 houses on it that turns off of a rural road. Any vehicle that I can't tell you the occupants' first and last names and which house they live in, and the name of his dogs and cats, is a suspicious vehicle. You'd get at most 10 minutes parked within eye shot of my house before one of the little old ladies next door called me, and the cops (probably not in that order).

How do you handle that?

ElDochart8 karma

It happens pretty often, especially in my area. In that case we would inform the client that a second investigator is needed to do a good job. They will usually oblige. Neither investigator will sit on your road, instead they will station themselves down the rural road on either side somewhere discreet, and just look for your car when you leave. If the dead end is long enough for word not to spread to your house, one investigator might sit on the dead end road anyway, and just deal with the old ladies. When you leave, he wouldn't follow you out, and instead would just call the other investigator to tell him which way you turned on the rural road.

If they don't assign a second investigator, I would just make my best educated guess at which way you would most likely go on the rural road, and sit down there and wait for you to leave.

rum_rum4 karma

I never knew it was the easy to be diagnosed with head injuries, of which I had genuinely had not some several, in addition to being bitten by a variety of neurotoxic arachnoids. I just did the most manly think I could think to do... "meh, I'll walk it off."

But given the relationship I had with my last employer, I'd stick it to them if I could. Is there some kind of statute of limitation on medical or safety liabilities? "It took me a couple of years to realize the EXTENT of the damage that had been done." Would that fly?

ElDochart7 karma

It's not unheard of, but it's much more difficult after the fact, unless some complications occur because of it. It's difficult to prove that it was caused by something at work if you didn't report it immediately in the first place.

Dean36419 karma


ElDochart11 karma

Or at least set it to full privacy. Facebook has done a pretty good job in protecting the privacy of those who want it. Even with that I can still sometimes find ways to see some stuff, through friends or family members who don't have private profiles.

Sil3693 karma

can a PI's company get a warrant to look at the private content?

ElDochart5 karma

No, only government agencies can do that. We really don't have much more power than a normal citizen has. The PI license just exempts us from loitering and stalking laws. We can however look tirelessly for private content that you unwittingly post online.

grumpleslitskin23 karma

Did you ever work on a case that made you feel like the bad guy (or at least working for the wrong side)? In other words, the person you were investigating may have committed fraud (or similar), but there were such strong mitigating factors that you could at least understand why they did it.

ElDochart34 karma

Sometimes I'll get a case in where I feel like the person being investigated is legitimately injured. In those cases I feel bad as I have to actively try to find them breaking a restriction, and it becomes very nit-picky. At times I worry that my work will result in someone who legitimately needs the worker's comp having it revoked.

grumpleslitskin12 karma

Thanks for the answer. Have you ever let the job take a lower priority where that happened, or let someone off the hook?

(Not trying to troll - I'm genuinely interested in the ethics of it. I've no idea how I'd handle that situation myself.)

ElDochart12 karma

I try not to. It's easy to get more excited about cases that you feel are blatant frauds though. If I'm unsure, I simply document and note everything the person does, and leave it up to the lawyers to decide.

marybanana4 karma


ElDochart24 karma

It's my job to document and report activity. It's the lawyers job to prove fraud.

Thesadstork218 karma

What is the most common type of insurance fraud you investigate?

ElDochart21 karma

The two big ones are back injuries and head injuries. Back injuries are the go to one for people seeking to commit fraud. They are very common, and so complicated that a doctor will typically just take the patients word for it and sign off. Head injuries are claimed by the more experienced defrauders. This is because they are just as easy to get signed off on by doctors, but it is very difficult for restrictions to be given, as they can claim things like agoraphobia and social anxiety.

Antarius-of-Smeg21 karma

People that fake back injuries disgust me. They make life hell for the rest of us that actually do have back injuries.

I wasn't being taken care of by the worker's compensation here in South Oz after an undeniable case (fell on a construction site when a roofing beam snapped, resulting in broken vertebrae and ruptured discs).

After being screwed around for nearly 10 years, I eventually requested an investigator visit me and interview everybody. After they were done, I finally got piss-poor care instead of no care at all. ಠ_ಠ

So finding out someone is faking an injury makes my blood boil.

Would I report someone for it? Too fucking right. Just ask my 2nd cousin...

ElDochart13 karma

Yea, they really make hell for those that really need the compensation. They are the primary reason that insurance rates are so high for everyone, most of these people cost insurance companies 30-50K a year.

SomewhatAngryMan3 karma


ElDochart8 karma


rum_rum4 karma

So to be clear, screaming "Whiplash!" is actually as common as it's portrayed on TV?

ElDochart8 karma

Basically. Whiplash is a terrible idea though, as restrictions usually involve turning your head, and not being able to drive a car, ect. It would be much more difficult to fake that.

Chupacabraconvoy14 karma

What is the most violent confrontation you have ever been in because of being a P.I.? Also, what options are available for you to defend yourself legally? Also, what are some legal aspects that make ur job hard?

ElDochart31 karma

I am particularly skilled at lying to people, so I can usually get out of tight spots, and it doesn't usually progress to a potentially violent situation. The most violent confrontation happened early on in my career. I was particularly agressive with a case, and sat too close to the house. The guy ended up seeing me with the camera, and chased me in his truck for a half hour or so, while beeping and shouting out his window. I eventually was able to lose him on a highway.

The great thing about working for a corporation is that the PI license is in the corporations name, not mine, and they have a great legal team. I've never needed them, but a few of my coworkers have. The most difficult legality issue is harassment. It's a really fine gray line between doing the job properly, and harassing someone. It becomes very important to stay aware of how the person being investigated is acting. If it appears that they know they are being tailed, the investigator has to break off immediately, or it becomes harassment.

TheMagnificentChrome21 karma

so the only difference between harassment and investigating is the person knowing?

Sounds sketchy at best.

ElDochart26 karma

It is very sketchy. There are some pretty good signs of the person knowing that can be watched out for. They'll suddenly appear very nervous, look at your car, make a lot of turns when driving that don't make sense, or drive in circles. I've had a few who drive directly to a police station, which is a pretty good sign that they know haha.

Uploadtk13 karma

My step-father broke his ankle falling off a train car. We had shady cars outside our house for over two years while the settlement went through. Not sure I understand why though, his entire ankle is metal and fused together so he can't even bend it. Is there any reason that people in your profession follow people in situations like this? It seems like a waste of time.

ElDochart18 karma

It may be a waste of time for the insurance company, I'm sure they had their reasons. For us, it's a paycheck.

TheCountryRedditaria9 karma

Saw your comment earlier about possibly doing one of these and you're on time! Nice.

How did you get started in your job? Did you take a private detective class to get certified? Do people ever see you being creepy with a camera in the woods and call the police? What's the craziest thing you've seen someone doing when they thought no one was watching?

Thank you for the AMA!

Edit: I'm not good at words

ElDochart45 karma

Your brother is on the right track for the job. There are no certification classes that need to be taken, just a Bachelor's degree in a related field. He can, if he wants, sign up for a student membership with the ACFE for 25 dollars, and can make some great connections through them. They have a great job board as well.

After he's been in the field for a couple years, then he can get his Certified Fraud Examiner certification, which may result in higher pay and hiring preference, but this is not required.

One thing I can't stress more is the importance of writing well. The job itself is fairly easy and could be done by most with little training. It is the reports that really make or break a case, and it is extremely important to know how to write a good report. I'd recommend taking extra writing classes, and putting on a resume that he took them specifically to improve his report writing skills.

I got my Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice, with a focus in Business Law and Accounting (I originally planned on being a Financial Fraud Investigator, or an Anti-Money Laundering Investigator). While I was in school, I worked as a writing tutor for the CJ students, helping mostly with practice reports and law reviews. I found this job almost immediately after graduating, on

I've never been seen when I'm out of my car. Most of the work is done from within my vehicle, and I have been seen a few times with a camera while taping someone from in my car. It usually results in the person who saw me asking me why I had a camera, and me lying to them. I get the police called on me very regularly, usually just because I'm sitting in a neighborhood for 8 hours. If I check in with the police first, then it's no problem, but if its a sensitive area (with schools, daycares, ect) or if I forget to check in, then they will send an officer out. After I present my licensing to the officer, he just leaves. The police are usually pretty good with it, as we are typically on the same side.

The best moment of someone doing something when they thought no one was watching happened just recently. It was a Paraplegic who, after being dropped off after a medical exam, got up out of the wheel chair, folded it up, and brought it inside. He then continued to climb onto his roof and replace a few shingles.

sully19835 karma

Do you all go after the doctor when this sort of thing happens? I can understand a doctor innocently missing back or head pain, but full in paralysis seems like there has to be collusion of some sort (or maybe I'm giving the scammers too little credit)

ElDochart8 karma

If there is collusion with the doctors, we don't hear of the result. We get payed to specifically investigate a single person, not a situation as a whole. I imagine that the doctor would face some sort of trouble with the licensing board though.

Sil3691 karma

I'm sitting in a neighborhood for 8 hours

does it get boring? do you have food or distractions?

ElDochart8 karma

I bring a lunch, and have reddit, haha

can_i_get_a_wha_wha1 karma

I worked as a PI for a firm like OP's or a year, and you do not need a degree of any sort of certification. Just a clean driving and criminal record. You work for the firm for a few years, then apply for your own license, work independently and pull in about 600 a day web working a case. Or you take the adjusters exam and go that route.

It is not a great job. I worked around 70-80 hours a week, social life disappeared. Sitting in a van for 12-16 hours in the cold and heat. Taking shits in plastic bags, pissing in bottles. Having to do welfare checks and surveillance in VERY rough areas, it all takes its toll.

ElDochart4 karma

It's never that extreme for me here. In my firm at least, a bachelors degree is required. In the summer I might get up to 50-60 hours a week, but besides that it sticks around 40-50. I rarely work more than 8 hours a day, occasionally I'll get a 10 hour case, and once or twice I've had to stick on someone for 12 hours, as they were active for that length. If its too cold I turn on my heat, and if its too hot I turn on my air conditioner. Taking a piss in a plastic bottle is a reality, but only if I have no other choice. Most of the time I can get to a bathroom at some point during the day.

A lot of rough areas for sure. I've never felt threatened by a neighborhood though.

DawnKeebles9 karma

What is the pay scale like in your line of work.
Appreciate that every one can get crappy assignments, do you generally find that you feel good about the work you do.
(Not really job satisfaction, but just that your job is worthwhile, or fulfilling)

ElDochart8 karma

If your starting right out of college you could expect to start in the 25-35K a year range. If you stick it out for 5 years you'd get up to the 50-60K range. A lot of people, after getting 3-5 years experience, become SUI Investigators with insurance companies, and make a lot more money than that.

I generally feel good about the work, occasionally you feel like you were actually able to serve some sort of justice, which is a good feeling.

_Damien_X4 karma

Do you mean SIU investigators?

ElDochart5 karma


NachosGrande3 karma

I'm looking to get into the private investigation sector and sent my resume to a few of the largest companies. What is some of your advice on how to get hired?

ElDochart2 karma

Biggest thing is to work on your writing. If your in school still, take extra writing classes, especially if they have a technical or report writing class. Big companies want people who they don't have to edit every report for.

You have to be a very patient person, willing to sit and stare at a front door for 8 hours if the person isn't active, in hopes of getting 30 seconds of video of them popping out to get their mail.

You also have to lie, a lot. You have to lie to everyone you meet in the field. It ranges from convincing people that you there for a different reason, vehicle repo ect., to canvassing a neighborhood to find out information about your claimant with a false story that would get neighbors to talk about each other.

tnconroy1 karma

What did you study to get this job?

ElDochart2 karma

Criminal Justice

yyx96 karma

I live in a section that had 3 houses burn down between late 2008 and 2009. One guy was trying to sell his house for about 3 years at that time and magically it burned down. I heard there's several red flags when this happens. If the house is being remodeled, if it is up for sale, or if the tenant has insurance and a history of not paying their mortgage on time. How did you get into your line of work? Is there a commission so to speak, as in do you make more money the more people you get convicted? Here's my number one question; for the people who were convicted of fraud, was their lifestyle and initial settlement better than the sentence they were given. Meaning that yea they did get caught but was their life pretty sweet until then? Also, is insurance fraud a felony?

ElDochart6 karma

The automatic red flags are usually something like that, where there are multiple claims in a short time. The Insured can also ask for an investigation specifically if they think someone is trying to defraud them.

I went to school with investigations specifically in mind. I got my Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice, and found this job shortly after graduating on Monster. It's pretty easy to get into if you have the requirements covered.

There is no commission really, just an hourly pay. If you are particularly awesome though, a client may ask for you specifically, or reassign cases.

If someone is committed of the fraud, they usually have to pay restitution to the insurance company. In my opinion that would make it completely not worth it, as you'd have to pay all the money back.

Insurance fraud can be a felony depending the severity, and the amount stolen from the company, or it can be a misdemeanor. Most fraud cases, whether felony or misdemeanor, never reach criminal courts. The Insurance companies would rather sue them and settle for getting their money back.

Concussar6 karma

As a PI, what was the single most chilling sentence you've ever heard while listening in on someone? Related to fraud or not, I mean.

ElDochart23 karma

I can't typically hear those being investigated. I try to stay 100-300 feet away when I can, and have a 70X zoom video camera. When I do hear them, it's something to the effect of "Why The Fuck Are You Following Me?" shouted out the window of their car, which can be pretty distressing.

zf4203 karma

Do you just tell them the truth after they start asking who you are and why you're following them?

ElDochart7 karma

No, I never tell anyone why I'm actually there. I usually just say that I'm doing a vehicle repossession.

RhEEziE5 karma

Have you ever had your own personal white whale?

ElDochart4 karma

Hm? That's probably a reference that's over my head.

Dalaim0mma5 karma

Has anyone ever called the cops on you for looking suspicious? There was a minivan parked across the street from my house two days in a row. I knew it didn't belong to any of my neighbors on my street. Never saw anyone get in or out of it, either. So I walked up to it one morning as it pulled up, asked the guy "can I help you?" And he was all rude like "none of your business". So I called the cops. I have 3 kids, last thing I need is some creepy tinted out van parked in front of my house. Sheriff explains to me he's apparently a PI. But since the driver was such a prick, I stopped at every single house within viewing distance to warn them. Lesson: be nice, or I'll blow up your spot!

ElDochart3 karma

I'm certain the police get called on me on almost a daily basis. I make sure to check in with the police every morning where ever I'm working so that they don't make a scene and blow my spot. They actually come out to check on me bi-weekly or so. They will come check me out even if I checked in if I happen to be working near a school or daycare.

My best bet in not being found out, is like you said, being nice. I smile, assure whoever asks that I am there with a legitimate reasons, and insist that they call the police to check my legitimacy. I relate to them, saying that I would have the same concern if someone was sitting in my neighborhood for days as well, and tell them how this is a concern in every area that I work, so they certainly isn't being unreasonable in their concern. I then blatantly lie to them, telling them that I am in the area for a vehicle repossession, involving someone that is simply driving through the area. They smile, joke around a little, and return to their home's carefree, and with no reason to gossip to neighbors.

Dday825 karma

Are there any surefire ways to know if you're being followed/investigated? Any things to look for?

ElDochart5 karma

Most investigators won't change vehicles, so simply keep an out for that. If you see the same car multiple times in a day, it may be an investigator. Most have small, dark colored cars with tinted windows, and will try to stay one car behind you if you leave.

Slntrob5 karma

Has anybody ever offered you anything not to turn them in? That is if you were ever found out of course.

ElDochart13 karma

I've never had a claimant approach me, knowing I was investigating them. If one did, I would lie vigorously to convince them that I wasn't after them.

TwoCerealsOneBowl5 karma

Have you ever worked in Russia?

ElDochart9 karma

No, that sound's like it would be messy.

Not_Brandon4 karma

Is your job to collect facts in order to properly understand the situation, or to prove that every suspect has committed fraud even when it involves stretching the truth?

ElDochart3 karma

Only to accurately report and document the activities of the claimants. It's not our job to decide whether they are legitimate or not.

dpatt7114 karma

If I slip and break my penis, how much money can I get?

ElDochart9 karma

Depends how much it will effect your work. If your a porn star, you could probably get lifetime comp.

MagillaGorillasHat3 karma

If a person were to use someone else's insurance card and id for medical treatment, how likely is an investigation and what might happen?

ElDochart3 karma

I've never been in that situation, I imagine it would be difficult to trick the insurance companies and hospitals. If someone did steal identity, it would probably be uncovered during the background investigation. We receive a full automated report containing all addresses, aliases, vehicles, homes owned, family members, ect. I usually can find a picture of the person online as well.

MagillaGorillasHat2 karma

What if both parties were complicit? All copays are paid and the policy holder never says anything to the insurance company. Is there a standard procedure for verifying that the insured person is the one who was treated? Not ongoing treatment, but a one time hospital stay.

ElDochart3 karma

If both parties are complicit it would rely on the automatic red flags, or the intuition of the adjuster. Many many frauds are committed without ever being found out.

miloBorealis3 karma


ElDochart4 karma

If I was a CS major, I would try to get into computer crime investigating. That's one of the most quickly growing field, and has a lot of federal openings. You could also apply for positions as a background checker.

Dinospine3 karma

How can I get away with it?

ElDochart5 karma

More difficult than you might think. The only way to really do it right would to be a complete recluse and never leave your house or privacy fenced back yard.

twiddledots3 karma

Ever felt shitty about something you've found and then needed to report?

ElDochart6 karma

Occasionally I'll feel bad about trying to get someone on a technicality when they may be legitimately injured. This is pretty rare though, as people who are legitimately injured usually just stay inside, or really can't break the restrictions.

houseoflove3 karma

If you are watching a person outside their house or work and they call the police on you do you have to leave?

Can they get a restraining order or charge harrasment on either you or the company that holds your PI licence?

ElDochart2 karma

It's a tricky area. The police wont tell you who reported it. I've had many people tell the police I was watching them, when there was no way the person I was actually watching could have known I was there yet. I wait till I actually see a sign of the person knowing they are being watched. If I know they know I am watching, and don't break off, they can press charges for harassment and get a restraining order.

perri13 karma

What should a person do if they made an insurance claim on an expensive piece of jewelry and found it a couple of years later? Would reporting it to the insurance company get them charged with fraud?

ElDochart3 karma

It would be fraud to not report it if you were the one to claim it, if you do report it you would most likely be required to pay back the money given. Lose lose really haha.

2cats2hats2 karma


I've recently heard of a fraud but I don't know what it is called, so I will describe it below.

You are in the driver's seat waiting at a light behind another car. The car ahead of you slowly backs into you and causes damage. Then the other party insists on calling the police since they are saying you ran into them.

What is this type of fraud called? Also, what are some other emerging types of fraud you are aware of where innocent parties are on the hook?

Good AMA!

ElDochart1 karma

It's a type of motor vehicle fraud, and increasingly prevalent. It is very difficult to prove, as most insurance companies will just assume you are at fault because the damage is to the front of your car. Your best bet is to talk to near-by businesses and try to see if anyone witnessed it, or if they have a video of it (many gas stations have videos of their lots).

Keegono2 karma

So what do you do if you strongly think someone is committing insurance fraud and it just seriously bothers you? How would you report this?

ElDochart2 karma

If you know who the Insured is, you could tell them of your suspicions, or if you know who the insurance company is you could report it directly to them.

KarmicLaw-1 karma

Call your local DA, your state insurance commissioner, the investigative division of the insurance company, and the employer, ifs it claimed as work related. I am the fraud broad!! investigators who would encourage you, and educate you on how to commit fraud, such as the extremely annoying, but ultimately keeps me employed. When you settle for a pittance, take your karma and drive away.

ElDochart1 karma

I certainly wouldn't encourage anyone to commit fraud, but as its an AMA I'll answer if they ask. I and most of my coworkers are very good at what we do, and are hard to fool.

It is a tricky question though, that I'm surprised that I haven't been asked yet. That being: Would I like to see a stop to all fraud? On one hand, thats the point of my career, to catch and ultimately prevent fraud, but if fraud is irradiated, I'm out of work.

fab13n2 karma

For how long would your clients make you follow a suspect, if you don't find anything incriminating at first?

ElDochart2 karma

Well our services are not cheap, so there comes a point when they deem it better to try and settle with the claimant directly. Unless they really want to make a point, they might reassign a case once before closing it out. Usually a total of 4 days or so.

Sil3692 karma

would a PI go as far as to tap a phone line? get cell phone records? or install cameras in someone's home/place of work? very interesting iama, ty

ElDochart1 karma

Oh absolutely not. That would be a complete invasion of privacy. We can't video you anywhere inside your house, in your back yard if you have a privacy fence or hedge. Your employer can choose to set up cameras if they want, if your claiming against them. We can however enter your place of work pretending to be a customer, with covert cameras to video. I personally have one that looks like a button, and a few of my coworkers have ones that look like Bluetooth headsets

Case1162 karma

Do you believe Sammy Jenkis was telling the truth?

ElDochart4 karma

Never saw momento

Clearly_Unimpressed2 karma

Would you rather do surveillance with a hundred duck sized cameras or one horse sized camera?

But seriously, do you ever have coworkers that take the job way too seriously and think they are covert spies? Seems like it would be easy to be over zealous and think you're James Bond or Sherlock Holmes.

ElDochart2 karma

Everyone I work is pretty laid back, people who stress out too much don't last long. It'll go from hours of laying back in your car listening to an audio book, to racing through a city trying to catch up with someone very quickly, and fairly often. It wears people down fast.

entrancedlion2 karma

Do you carry any type of weapon?

ElDochart2 karma

No. The firm I work for forbids it, and I have to follow as the license is under their name, not mine. I know a couple who opted to get their own license and carry, as they work in really remote areas.

vln122 karma

How would you investigate me?

I live in a resort community on the end of a circle.

There is no parking allowed on any streets, at any time. My neighbors would actively call the police for a suspicious person hiding in the middle of the circle.

How would you follow me? I think it would be impossible.

ElDochart3 karma

If there's no parking on streets anywhere near you, we would probably just get permission from a home owner to park discreetly in their driveway.

ElDochart1 karma

Pretty simple and fairly common. Two Investigators would be assigned, and neither would sit on the road or in view of the residence. We would simply cover your routes of departure and wait for you to leave, monitoring for your vehicle. Occasional spot checks would be conducted every hour or so, to check up on activity.

dillpunk2 karma

Thank you for doing this! I have a very relevant question. I went to Thailand last year and purchased travel insurance before I went. I got very sick in Thailand, racked up some medical bills, and had to take an emergency flight home. The travel insurance paid for mostly everything while I was there but I paid about $1500 out of pocket before I could get ahold of the travel insurance company.

I got back to the states and filed for reimbursement for the $1500 but the travel insurance made me file the claim with my primary insurance company first. The primary insurance refused to even process the claim without having the total bill from the hospital, not just the portion that i paid out of pocket. The two insurance companies refused to communicate with each other, making me the middle man between the two insurance companies and the hospital in Thailand.

Eventually, after tons of leg work, I received reimbursement from my primary insurance company for the $1500. I figured everything was settled. About a month later, I received a check for $1200 from the primary insurance company for the portion of fees already paid by the travel insurance company.

Now I know that someone made a mistake here. The right thing to do would be to send the reimbursement check to the travel insurance company. However knowing what an incredible pain in the ass it is to explain these things and how incompetent both insurance companies were during this whole process, I stuck the check in a drawer and pretended it never happen.

My question... Have I committed any crimes by doing nothing? If I cash the check, is this fraud? Through the entire process I explained everything very clearly to both companies and they don't seem to have clear internal communication. What should I do???

ElDochart2 karma

Its a messy situation. I'm certainly not qualified to give legal advice, but if you just shoved the check in a drawer, you never accepted the payment, and therefore aren't fraudulent. You could always send the check back whenever, or just call and explain that there was an error, and they'll just cancel the check. I don't think they would fault you for waiting.

dillpunk1 karma

That's the same thing my lawyer said. If it was as easy as sending the check back and making a phone call i would do it. The problem is that I know that doing the right thing would involve 3-5 hours of my time during work hours. This is time that I am unwilling to invest into their mistake so unfortunately for the other parties involved, I will likely keep the check until someone asks for it or it is lost.

ElDochart2 karma

I'm sure thatll work just fine.

talkingwires2 karma

What sort of educational background does one need to do your line of work?

ElDochart2 karma

Usually a Bachelor's degree in a related field.

talkingwires1 karma

The universities in my state seem to be lacking degree programs in for Insurance Fraud Investigator. What's a "related field"?

ElDochart2 karma

Criminal Justice, Criminology, ect.

jompi1 karma


ElDochart3 karma

Criminal Justice related things mostly. You can also probably find a Forensic Accounting major if your interested in financial fraud.

MakeASweater2 karma

Last year I was in the back seat of a car that was in an accident. Four of us were in the car. The guy who was sitting next to me had old injuries operated on and is basically running a big scandal with a shady lawyer and doctor, in which he was suing the other driver's insurance company. No one else in the car got involved with his scandal, and we were all pretty much unharmed. However, my friend who was driving the car got a letter today claiming that our other "friend" is suing him as well. We are aware of his faked injuries. He has been working for landscaping companies, doing physical labor since the accident and has spoken openly about his scheme with many people. I want to help my friend not get sued by this asshole. What course of action do you suggest?

ElDochart5 karma

Get a lawyer ASAP, they will be the most help for you. After that, inform your adjuster of the situation, and they will act accordingly. You could also report it to the DA's office. The insurance company will be 100% on your side on this one, as they would really rather not pay your friend.

clsteveparks1 karma

A lot of the patrol officers in our department moonlight as security and after retirement go on to PI work. Do you have any prior policing experience?

ElDochart1 karma

No, Insurance Fraud investigating was my first job out of college.

Arandy051 karma

If you weren't do this job what would your career be?

ElDochart1 karma

Probably police work. I was applying for both, and this is the one that I got first.

Shuhalo1 karma

Do you read Sutter Cane?

ElDochart3 karma

Never read it, is it good?

TheRedditor31 karma

do you like pickles?

ElDochart1 karma

Only fried.

Williph1 karma

Why private investigating instead of being in the police? Does it pay better? More free choice?

ElDochart1 karma

Also, I make my own schedule, never go into an office, and only ever talk to my boss if I screw something up.

Williph1 karma

Thank you for answering. Also what did you study, if you did and are there courses one must take to be a private investigator? Not interested in job per se just curious

ElDochart1 karma

I got my bachelors in Criminal Justice, with a focus in Accounting and Buisnes Law. The focus's were for a career in Financial Fraud, but the insurance fraud job just came around first. After working for a year in the field, you can become a Certified Fraud Examiner, which is a certification provided by a private association (the ACFE), and is not required. Those with the certification tend to get payed a bit more and are preferred in hiring.

ElDochart1 karma

Pay is about the same usually, but with way better hours. I never have to work nights, and it's usually early morning starts, which I personally love. I typically get on scene for 6AM, and am done around 2PM, giving me a nice chunk of daytime to get things done outside of work.

Sil3691 karma

does someone else take over where you left off to cover the other hours? you just gave fraudsters a window of time to un-fake their condition lol

ElDochart1 karma

Nah, I just stagger my times and pinpoint when they are most active. I'll star with a 6-2 to see when they wake up, then just be there an hour before they get up from then on. Most people do all their days activity in the first 8 hours after they wake up anyway, and don't usually do anything after dinner. Also, it's almost completely useless to surveil after dark, as the cameras won't work well.

i8wg1 karma

You mentioned something about 70x zoom in another post.

What camera(s)/lens(es) do you use?

ElDochart2 karma

I'm not sure the exact model, but it's a Sony digital video camera with great zoom, i can read someone's newspaper from 150 ft away. The covert camera is two piece video camera, a lenses hidden in a button, and the actual recording device, attached with a long wire. It's been wicked handy.

credy1 karma

How common is it for people to work in this field straight out of college? Do prior law enforcement officers start out at a higher pay scale or work different types of cases? Do you supply the camera gear yourself? What sort of relationship do you have with competing investigators, have you ever been tailed while on the job? I'm imagining a scenario where a claimant hires an investigator of their own to discredit your reports.

ElDochart1 karma

It's pretty common for entry level positions to be open right out of college. I was hired about a month after I graduated, with a very very long hiring process. (which in retrospect should have been expected with a company that does investigations) I started interviewing for the job about 2 months prior. There is a high turn over for these jobs, as a lot of people just don't have the patience for it.

Law enforcement experience would count as relevant experience, and you'd start at a rate that reflects that, but everyone works the same sort of cases. Sometimes the really high profile cases are given preference to investigators with more experience.

With my company, all the gear was provided, a 70X zoom video camera, a shitty laptop, and a covert camera. Other companies vary, i've seen some that require Investigators to have their own stuff, but many companies opt to equip their investigators so that everything is consistant in reports.

Within the company we don't compete for cases. We have general regions, and cases are distributed based on location. We work together a lot, if a case requires multiple investigators. We don't deal at all with Investigators that are with different companies, but occasionally I'll cross paths with one in the field.

I've never been tailed. If a claimant knows hes being watched, we wouldn't be there anyway, so there would be no way for them to hire an investigator. Occasionally adjusters will check us out in the field to see where we are and whats going on (which is super annoying when they do).

credy1 karma

Wad the background check as rigorous as a government security clearance, where there are disqualifying factors such as 'foreign preference or influence' for having foreigners as close friends or relatives? Was there a polygraph? Or is it just simply about being drug free with a clean criminal history and good character references?

ElDochart1 karma

The latter. Drug test, criminal test, and a pretty extensive internet check. You can trust that a PI firm will look more deeply into your internet activity than most. I also had to do a ride-along, which tested to see how I managed sitting in a car for 8 hours straight in the summer, and gave them a chance to get to know me. Where I am, polygraphs are completely illegal, even for law enforcement jobs.

usrevenge1 karma

a part of me thinks I could do this job, wondering how one would get started in this field?

is there any training?

how much would a new employee earn on average?

do you travel all over the place or do you work from a local area and only have to worry about local people?

other than boredom with "stakeouts" what would the hardest part of the Job be in your opinion.

ElDochart1 karma

Most companies require a bachelors degree, any relevant experience would help. The company I work for had a 3 month training period, but there is no certification or anything that you'd have to worry about. The larger companies will take care of all licensing and everything.

A new employee, without prior experience could expect right around 30K a year, give or take depending location.

There is a lot of traveling, within reason of course. Most companies will avoid having to reimburse as much mileage as they can, so you'll get the cases closest to you. I typically end up commuting 30- 50 miles each way, sometimes I'll work in the town I live in, and other times i'll drive 250 miles in a day. You really just have to be flexible, and ok with driving a lot. All miles are reimbursed at a good rate. I drive a hybrid, so I usually make 20 cents a mile profit on my reimbursements, after I pay for gas.

Besides for just staring at a front door for hours on end, the hardest thing for most people is the early mornings. I usually start surveillance at 6 AM, just in case they go to work in the morning. This usually means waking up at 4:30 AM on a normal basis, and sometimes earlier.
The heat in the summer can be pretty wearing at times. Even though you could always run your air conditioner if you think you can without anyone noticing, it's a huge waste of gas to run your car for all that time. I usually just suck it up and hope that I can have a window open.

ANUS_CONE1 karma

I'm kind of interested in doing this kind of PI work on the side. Do you think that someone could maintain an 8-5 career, and then do some of this kind of stuff "on the side"?

ElDochart1 karma

No, probably not. The job is very sporadic, from day to day I'll go from working 6-2 to 12-8 or sometimes 4 or 6 hour shifts. There is usually work 6 days a week, and it's almost impossible to set appointments for things haha. I personally don't mind the sporadic nature of it for now, it's nice to work a 6-10 AM shift then have the rest of the day open occasionally. You really need to at least be working when everyone typically goes to work.

klingon135241 karma

What equipment do you typically take with you?

What kind of equipment do you wish you had?

Do you pack food/beverages for a stakeout, and if so what and how much?

How do you handle needing to pee/eject fecal matter?

What do your friends and family think of your job?

Do you bring entertainment of any sort to a stakeout, and if so what?

Are you a lone wolf almost always, or do you have someone with you sometimes?

Do you ever work at night, and if so what circumstances would prompt that?

Are all these references to "Sammy Jenkins" getting on your nerves?

What do movies and shows actually get right in regards to private investigation?

ElDochart2 karma

I always have the same equipment with me on cases. I have 2 cameras, a 70x zoom digital video camera, and a cool little covert video camera that looks like a shirt button. I have a crappy old laptop for report writing, and I usually bring my personal laptop as well for anything else. In my car I always keep a couple different jackets, hoodies, hats, a towel (always know where your towel is), a blanket, a folding lawn chair, a fishing rod (comes in handy more than you might think), and a set of dress clothes.

The only thing I don't have that I wish I did, or intend to get at least, is the mophie juice pack pro outdoor edition case for my iPhone. It lengthens battery life 150 %, is indestructible, and comes with professional gps software. Battery life of electronics is a pretty constant struggle.

If I have time in the morning I'll pack a lunch and bring a Gatorade. If its too early, I'll sacrifice lunch making for an extra 15 minutes of sleep and just hope to grab takeout at some point during the day. Sometimes I prefer the latter for reasons I'll get into in the next paragraph.

As far as going to the bathroom goes, it really depends on the situation. If its still dark out or if I'm in a remote area, I'll pee in a bottle or in the woods. Unfortunately I usually work in a city or suburban area, so going to the bathroom in public is too risky. In most cases I'll just hope to be able to get to a dunkin donuts or McDonald's at some point to use theirs. The only problem with that is I feel obligated to purchase something.

Most of my friends think it's the coolest job ever, most of my family doesn't like how dishonest I have to be in my work, and my wife worries about it fairly often, as I work a lot in bad areas, and have to drive very aggressively.

Entertainment depends the case. I at least always have my iPhone and audio books when I'm on surveillance. I like the audio books because I can be entertained while not taking my eye off the residence. If its a really easy set up I also have my computer which has movies and a couple full series of shows on it, and Hulu and YouTube if I'm lucky enough to find unlocked wifi.

I usually work alone on cases. If its a difficult set up, or a particularly alert claimant, we'll have 2 investigators on the case, but in separate cars.

I try to avoid working at night as much as possible. Getting good video after dark is very difficult, it's a lot easier to lose a claimant, and they recognize your car a lot easier by your head lights. It happens occasionally if the person stays active past dinner, or goes out to eat. We have to stay on a claimant until they are no longer active for an hour or so. A couple of my coworkers have been on cases where the claimant goes to the casino, and end up working a 20 hour day, following them around all night. Once one of our guys actually ended up going camping for a weekend after following a claimant to Canada.

I've never seen a PI show or movie that was accurate. If they did make one it would be a pretty boring movie haha. The job isn't all boring, and definitely is worth the hours of waiting. The chase is very exciting and high adrenaline. I'd equate it to going hunting. Early mornings, sitting for hours in hiding for a few very intense minutes. My favorite PI show is Bored to Death. It was on HBO. Completely inaccurate, but hilarious.

txanarchy1 karma

How easy is it to detect the cause of a car fire? It seems like that would be a difficult thing to determine considering how hot they burn.

ElDochart1 karma

I've never dealt with it professionally. I know from my forensic classes in college that the source location of the fire can be easily traced, and it doesn't take much testing to figure out if an accelerant was present where it shouldn't have been.

[deleted]0 karma


ElDochart2 karma

Who the fuck is Sammy Jenkis this is like the 5th post of the same thing

DaSpawn0 karma

Have you encountered bitcoin in your work yet? As it becomes more popular I would imagine it will be used to hide and move fraudulent funds. How will this change your work?

ElDochart4 karma

I'm only in Insurance, so I don't have to deal with finances. I have a friend who works in Anti-Money Laundering though, and he absolutely hates bitcoins. They cause him tons of trouble, as they are completely untraceable.



ElDochart2 karma

Oh I didn't realize you only ever write in caps. I'm sorry I didn't know you had a disability and I hope I didn't offend you.

ElDochart1 karma

Whats fake?

AnHugeMoron-6 karma

What was his handshake like? Satan I mean, when you sold your soul to him.

ElDochart14 karma

Firm, and well placed. We toasted with the tears of criminals everywhere.

AnHugeMoron-6 karma

Haha cool, I hear that guy really gets off on denying old ladies and poor people their insurance claims.

ElDochart9 karma

Only if their fraudulently obtained.

malvoliosf3 karma

I don't know why you would say this. The whole point of an insurance investigator is to distinguish people who need and deserve help from people who are stealing money from the first group, so they can be treated accordingly.

AnHugeMoron-2 karma

Homeboy himself said this:

Sometimes I'll get a case in where I feel like the person being investigated is legitimately injured. In those cases I feel bad as I have to actively try to find them breaking a restriction, and it becomes very nit-picky. At times I worry that my work will result in someone who legitimately needs the worker's comp having it revoked.

He pretty much admitted that he looks for whatever arbitrary rule the person may or may not have broken. Then he "worries" that the company will deny the claim for someone who needs it, as if he doesn't already know that that is going to happen with near certainty.

ElDochart0 karma

We'll aren't you the little investigator.