When you think of a private investigator, what do you think of? Sneaking around in alleyways to get pictures of cheating spouses? Some gumshoe who digs through the garbage of a suspected kidnapper?

Thanks to popular depictions in the media, it’s likely these images crossed your mind before you even began to think of a real-life private investigator’s job. Private investigators do much more than the movies would have you believe, for a wider range of clients than the stereotypical cast of regular characters. In fact, did you know that a large part of what professional private investigators do is legal and corporate investigation?

One reason you don’t see this side of investigations in the movies is it doesn’t make for very entertaining viewing. A large portion of the work involves shuffling through papers, filling out spreadsheets, and analyzing data. However mundane the work may seem, though, it’s essential to a proper fraud investigation.

But what is fraud, and how does a private investigator help fight it?

Fraud is, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (the ACFE,) is the crime of misrepresentation with the intent to deceive. From a deceptively simple definition comes a crime with far-reaching and disastrous consequences: according to Forbes magazine, fraud costs the American economy over $190 billion dollars a year. Largely through misrepresenting financial information, the crime of fraud allows unscrupulous individuals and organizations to do immense damage to private or governmental institutions over long periods of time.

The objectives of a fraud investigation are relatively simple. From the moment that fraud is suspected, an investigation can help legally determine whether fraud has occurred, and collect evidence to build the case against the suspected parties. This is where a private investigator can truly begin to help in a fraud investigation: through the skills available to you when you hire a private investigator, the collection of evidence becomes much more available and usable.

Our forensic specialists are experts at asset searches, background checks, and employee investigation, giving you a broader scope of information than your internal investigations may be able to. Likewise, it is important to realize the value of a third party investigator in a fraud investigation. First, of course, personal investigation is a liability in building a body of evidence–bringing in someone who has no connection to your business allows for greater freedom of movement and a wider skill-set. In addition, any evidence gathered first-hand by the victim of fraud may not be admissible in any court proceedings that may follow as a result of your investigation.

Through a private investigator’s skills, your fraud investigation has a better chance of success. Whether it’s through (to quote the ACFE) “The careful consideration of complicated financial records,” or through the professional reputation of the investigator during the trial, hiring a private investigator can help bring your fraud investigation to a successful finish. If you’re interested in learning more about what a private investigator can do for your company or law firm, please visit us at www.fcisllc.com.