IAMA Private Investigator (Part 2) Now with more action, adventure, oddities, and sultry dames!
Here is a link to the old AMA as well http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/mj5qi/iama_private_investigator_ama/
I'll continue answering questions as I can until I get to everything (as I promised) Sorry the live session got cut so short. An ER visit slowed things down a bit. Just a day in the life of....swings cape Blackberry_Manigloo! vanishes
It was a blast folks!
Damn! You got me! Even with my clever bear-suit disguise
What happens if someone hires two PIs to follow each other?
I'm not a PI, but I heard from a friend that if this happens, it always ends in a massive orgy. Don't know how, or why, it just does
That or one dies. It's like seeing your doppelganger...and then murdering him
Tell your best story in detail
There are several really good ones. But I'll start with a case I actually got from a redditor in my last AMA. I cant go into too much detail (out of respect) but I can give you the basic run down. A woman contacted me, asking for my help in determining if her husband was cheating on her. Pretty standard case...or so I thought at the time. The husband had been growing increasingly distant and behaving suspiciously (mysterious phone calls etc) and the wife became concerned when she searched one of these random phone numbers. Turned out to belong to a nearby escort service. So she retained my services. On the surface things still appeared to be pretty standard adulterous behaviour, but when I started digging, things took a turn for the dark and bizarre...very quickly. Numerous escorts. Voicemails. Emails. Most provided to me by the escorts themselves when I contacted them. Oh did I say escorts? I meant to say "Dominatrixes" (I guess that's the plural form). Human furniture, Mummification, Trampling, Urethral Ultrasounds....you know, really sexy stuff (/sarcasm). Not what I expected to find from this seemingly normal looking couple and a standard adultery case. Also not images I wanted burned into my corneas for the months that followed either. Just goes to show you that no one ever really knows whats going on behind the scenes
I don't even... ಠ_ಠ
Don't do it....don't you dare search it. You did it anyway didn't you?
Ohshitohshitohshit, you're lurking in my room aren't you??!
For real though, how easy is it to find someone based on their Reddit history, eg me? In your previous thread you found the Michigan guy and were pretty spot-on with most others. Do sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter make your job easy or do you not rely on them too much?
I love PI and detective stories, and yours are especially riveting! Also, a relevant Calvin and Hobbes comic.
It definitely helps and I use it all the time. People love telling me what they're doing and where they're going to be all day. Makes the job much much easier
I imagine you sitting alone in your hotel room/apartment drinking out of a bottle with a voiceover where you talk about how you can't get the images of ball-stomping and Urethral Ultra-sounds out of your head (unlike most, I actually WON'T be googling that). Internet noir.
hahaha That EXACT situation did happen. After that case, I had a long conversation with a friend of mine while downing Jameson about how some of the shit I had to deal with and see couldn't be unseen. There are some dark places on the internets. Got even worse on a missing 14 year old girl's case. Perusing the dark net and backpages for videos or pictures of rapes and sex slaves. Cant...be....unseen
I can tell you there are many people who are into this that you would never suspect in a million years. And it doesn't mean they are weird. They are normal people. Trust me.
Not that he or anyone else who does it is weird. If that's your fetish, than power to you brother. It was the surprise of finding that out about someone that you absolutely would not expect it from that made it shocking and weird. And I mean....human furniture....that's a little weird. Or I'm just a prude. I can't go into great detail about it, but it was mainly the story behind the relationship that made what he was doing so weird. There were some deep seeded issues there.
Can you find Waldo?
He's got a warrant out for his arrest. His ass is mine
Well that turned gay quickly.
It usually does with him. He loves to take pictures. He's a watcher
You have an amazing sense of humor for someone in your line of work
Like any job that deals with such things, you have to yo keep from going insane.
What is your most terrifying story?
Working on a missing girl/murder investigation. Found a guy who fit the profile from a witness. I stumbled across him while on surveillance in the area the girl went missing. It was about 2:00 a.m. I started following him and my stomach just sank. Chills. Just that feeling that something was wrong. I followed him for hours in the dead of night. Out into the middle of nowhere. Back-roads in Louisiana on a foggy night are unsettling as it is. But something was especially off that night. Coming around a large curve and then through a thick patch of fog, I didn't see his tail lights anymore. So Im driving slowly, looking for him, and next thing I know there's a set of high beams right behind me.....it was him now following me. Just the two of us. No houses around for miles. Just empty fields and grain silos. I was able to ditch him with some clever driving skills, and did some more digging the following day and the things I found made that night in retrospect SO much more terrifying. A large amount of telephoto lenses and camera equipment, an ungodly amount of hunting knives, and children's collectible dishes. No a father, hunter, or photographer by the way. Lived alone. Also, he was not guilty in that particular case.....but I'm pretty sure there was some unrelated craziness going on
Was this for the Mickey Shunick case?
Spot on. That case came with some drama and stabs at my reputation, but was still worth my efforts. They were desperately needed. No good deed goes unpunished, so I dont fault anyone for that. At least it was solved.
While he wasn't guilty in that case, do you pass on details to LEO?
I did indeed
How many affairs have you spoiled?
Hundreds. That's the price you pay to play that particular game
Dreams... takes drag of cigarette ...I used to dream. Now its only nightmares. ;)
Has this changed your opinion on marriage in any way?
Not at all. Just more evidence to the fact that people marry for the wrong reasons or too soon etc and thats the outcome. They shouldn't have been married to begin with
Have you ever had sex with a client?
Can I call you Micheal Westin?
When you're a spy you take on many aliases. Yes you can call me Michael Westin. I prefer Chuck Finnley though
I watched a 32 part youtube series by a PI a year ago called "Privacy is Dead, Get Over It" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPJlsuF-8xY). A few questions.
1) Can you really obtain cell phone location data? I'm not talking about self-volunteered facebook stuff but rather triangulation data from the cell providers. I thought only LEO agencies can do that and\or those with a subpoena.
2) Can you really buy SSN online? While checking my own digital footprints I have never found a site that sells them. I don't see how a site could legally do this, or how you can legally buy them. Certainly using the info would be illegal.
3) Can you buy credit data online? I'm talking about purchases and zips where the credit card was used. Once again never saw a site that sells this. I assume only LEOs can access this.
I have access to SS numbers, but no credit or cell phone records without permission. That's for LEO only. That's not to say I don't have my methods of obtaining them, but it isn't entirely legal, so I stay away from that. It's not very necessary either. I get everything I need with good ol' detective work. Research and surveillance
I get everything I need with good ol' detective work.
Daaaanger Zone! http://imgur.com/KvmtASM.jpg
What's the most dangerous situation you've been in?
Theres been a few. I've had a gun pulled on me after serving a subpoena, Ive been surrounded by drug dealing gangsta's while hiding in my car like a giant vagina, only to be discovered and had to haul ass out of there, nearly running multiple people over due to having my car-seat fully reclined so as not to be shot in the face
Tell me more about this magic giant vagina car.
It's a prius
It gets great gas mileage and I have a place to store my wooden gun and rape whistle
Before they took away your gun any desk pops or hobo gang bangs in that Prius?
No desk pops (yet) but frequent run ins with dirty mike and the boyz
What is the best stakeout food?
Blue Monster Energy Drinks and Cigarettes. The food of champions. Although I've stopped drinking Monster in the last month because I prefer my Kidneys functioning
But not your lungs?
One vice at a time. Im a flawed man
That sounds like a line out of a noir movie.
Im a walking, talking cliche
How would you recommend someone get into the business of being a private investigator?
Since laws concerning investigator licensing differ from state to state, the best thing you can do is research the licensing requirements in your state, then call around and talk to PI's in your area about apprenticing for them or someone they might now, get yourself licensed, then take it from there. Also, practice sitting in solitude for days on end. It gets very boring most of the time, so be sure you enjoy the work.
Have you ever ended up running into another private investigator while on a case?
A few times. As a PI they're easy to spot since I know what to look for.
It's my pleasure. It all depends on the case whether or not they will find out if they were the subject of an investigation. If it's used in court, then they get to see the reports and video and learn all about what was observed. If not, then they never know. Or sometimes they're told, but still never find out what was actually documented if it doesn't go to court. The information I gather is privileged and can be shared only at my client's discretion. So what they do with it is up to them. And as far as they other question, as long as it doesn't violate any laws, everything I gather can be used in court or turned over to law enforcement.
Not at all. But I would love to get into the Marshall's Service if they were ever hiring :(
Are you like Finn and Jake from Adventure Time?
I thought about changing the name of my agency to Adventure Time Investigations
I'll work for free in a dogsuit if you do this. Keep in touch.
I just so happen to keep a spare dog suit in my trunk....you know....for science. Furry, sexy science
What kind of money do you make
55-75 dollars per hour depending on the case.
Do you get many cases?
Tons. I work year round.
What do you, generally, net a year?
Depends. Some years are better than others. Around 60-75k a year. Sometimes more
So you work about 20 hours per week?
Sometimes. I also do a lot of subcontracting for other agencies which pays far less
Do you ever wear disguises or costumes?
Not really. Although lately I've taken to wearing scrubs often. Not so much for a disguise but because they're damned comfortable. It just so happens that it works as a disguise as well. Doctor Rosenrosen
No but seriously, I love that somebody else has seen that movie. I spent the majority of high school getting funny looks fore referencing one of my favorite movies of all time.
That scene alone makes it worth the watch. Chevy Chase at his finest
how did you get into this line of work?
It was something I always wanted to do, ever since seeing Who Framed Roger Rabbit as a kid. I wanted to work with Toons. I spent years working jobs in the same areas of investigative work to acclimate me to the job, and spent lots of time calling various PI's for work. I lucked out one day, found someone to sponsor me as an apprentice, got licensed, worked for a few different people over the years, eventually opened my own agency, and the rest is history
How does getting sponsored as an apprentice work?
in florida, you just find someone with a C (private I) license and work for them.
In Louisiana you have to be sponsored by a License Agency in order to get your initial PI license
Has there ever been a case where it seemed to be really obvious, but at the last minute there was a twist ending?
I mostly deal with insurance and workman's comp cases, so not so much in the way you're thinking. But there's been a few times where I've thought I had the person dead to rights with tons of evidence, video etc. All smug and happy with myself. Then it turned out to not be the subject. Literal face palms.
How did you get the subject wrong ? Do you not have photos of what a person looks like, addresses of home or work... It seems things wouldn't match up and one could figure that out before feeling like "All smug and happy". I don't understand.
Sometimes (actually most often) I dont have a picture. Also lots of clients are very picky about us talking to the claimant, so that makes it even more difficult. And sometimes they're just black as night and you cant tell the difference from 500 yards away. That's not racist if its true
What are the insurance cases like? I was under the impression only individuals really hire PIs. Is this actual insurance companies that hire you? Have you ever caught someone in a huge fraud?
This is typical for insurance adjusters. Thats 99% of PI's bread and butter. And Ive busted multi million dollar cases
Have you ever investigated an anus?
I wouldn't want to encroach on your territory
What is one thing you have in common with Mike from Breaking Bad?
We both work for Meth manufacturers and are fictional characters. :) Nothing I can think of off the top of my head. He's decades older and a little more hardened from his life and experiences. But we are two cool motherfuckers, so we've got that in common.
I remember your last thread, very interesting! Have you since then been "burned" again? Do you still get calls in the night from the guy you mentioned in your first ama?
Have you ever observed something that made you feel bad for doing what you do?
Yeah it always happens. I've been burned a handful of times since then. Nothing to major though. Just a few subjects noticing me and waving, calling their attorney, or approaching me to ask what I'm doing.
No more calls from the psycho thankfully. I've got a whole new batch of of nutjobs I have to worry about calling me now
Never once. The proof is in the J-E-L-L-O tasty puddiiiiing. The people I watch or either guilty or not. Plain and simple. We observed them over a long enough period of time that the amount of evidence we gather can paint an accurate picture as to what they're up to. When they're guilty, they deserve to be busted. When they're not up to anything shady, it shows in the evidence and they get to go about their merry way none the wiser.
What are the legal boundaries you face in your investigation?
No trespassing and respecting people's "reasonable expectation of privacy" are the main ones. If it can't be observed from a public vantage, I can't film it. Also I have responsibility in who I take cases from and the results I give them. For instance if I took a case from someone who suspected their wife of cheating and I thought he may hurt her, and then he does, I'm responsible for that.
I'm sure this happens most of the time but is there any case you wish you didn't solve?
Not too often. Like I've said, I mainly deal in Insurance fraud. There's not much shady business going on there. They're more humorous cases than anything.
Can you provide an example of a particularly funny story?
It's always funny when you bust someone faking an injury. More than once I've gotten people claiming to be completely disabled out cutting a rug at some bar. Dancing their ass off. It's hilarious. Once I even pretended to be with a local TV station, so the dude was going out of his way to dance in front of my camera, showing off his moves.
Have you ever been discovered by the person you are 'investigating'?
Many times. It comes with the job. Most of the time you can just give them some bullshit story and they go about their business.
What kind of bullshit story? How to you cover up what is essential stalking? No disrespect to your profession meant by the stalking remark but I didnt know how else to put it, for the record I think its a super cool job.
Edit: I would like to change the word stalking to spying. Thats much more suave.
Stalking is defined as having malicious intent. Im simply gathering information. No worries though ;)
Do you work with police ever/have a "you scratch my back" kind of thing going on? Or do they find PI's an annoyance?
That's happened a few times. They give me access to information sometimes and in return I'll do some surveillance on people for them
I have a protective order against my ex who is trying to find me and is threatening to hire a private investigator. How much luck will he have?
If a PI takes that case sue the fuck out of him. We are bound by ethics. That is grounds for losing their license and being sued
Would there ever be a type of case that you would refuse to accept? If so, what would it be?
One that I know is unsolvable or that I think someone may hurt someone else based on my findings.
Ive worked cases over a several year period before. I do mostly insurance cases and some of those are tied up in court forever. So every so often they'd send me back out for more evidence
Have you even seen the movie "Who's Harry Crumb"?
I have. RIP John Candy. :(
How about Jonathan Ames' 'Bored to Death'?
Love it. You wouldn't believe the influx of people I saw on craigslist after that offering "unlicensed PI services". But sadly this is real life and they probably got fined out the ass by the state board when they found out.
is being a PI anything like it was on magnum p.i. ???...
You're my unofficial colleague today. Thanks for getting to the ones I can't get to or miss
Are you required to report anything that you discover to law enforcement? What's the relationship like between private investigators and the police?
No I'm not. Everything I obtain is privileged information and is for the client eyes only.
It really depends on the officer. Some HATE investigators for whatever reason (mostly because we get paid a whole lot more) but others (usually young cops) love us and think it's the coolest job ever and help out in any way they can
More than once. I gave a few examples a second ago
Does anyone close to you know you're in this business or they all assume you're a bum who has money?
Everyone knows. Its not something I hide.
Thanks for doing this AMA- two questions: what was your background before going into the investigating business? And do you enjoy your job?
I love my job. Before getting my license I worked for a few companies and law firms doing background checks and courthouse research on land titles. I did a lot of security work too which was my first real taste of surveillance.
What do you do when you're not investigating privately?
Not much. Lots of movies. Casinos. Quality time with the SO. I lead a simple life
As a licensed PI what kind of access do you get to federal or local police databases?
Exactly. And sweet talking LEO's can get you some info too :)
Do you have a black partner named Gus?
Yes. He's a pharmaceutical sales rep
Scariest story? Ever just wanted to run to the police instead of the client with something you found out?
I posted some examples of some of the scarier things that have happened recently. Never wanted to so much run to the cops, as I wanted to run home and barricade myself in for a few days, rocking back and forth with a shotgun pointed at the door.
Do you have any nonfiction PI hero's?
None that come to mind
How did you get into the private investigation business?
Search around, Ive answered that
What did you end up doing with your secret santa last year?
He didn't have much on his profile and gave me know hints or preferences. But I saw that he was trying to build some sort of tiki head, so I sent him one. I in return got like 10 pairs of aviators and disguise mustaches
Gene Parmesan is that you?
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