Why not just hire the cheapest private investigator or purchase the cheapest asset search?

Digital Forensics: Does My Law Firm Need an Expert?
September 15, 2017
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Why not just hire the cheapest private investigator or purchase the cheapest asset search?

Why not just hire the cheapest private investigator to do surveillance, asset searches, or other investigative tasking? Personally, I think this is a dumb question but believe it or not, every single day, my office gets calls from people who are trying to find the lowest price for surveillance, asset determinations, and other investigative services.

Are you really shopping by price?

Why do I say it’s a dumb question? Because I cannot believe that anybody would want the cheapest investigator working on their case, or that they would want the cheapest asset search, although they regularly do. Why is that? It’s simply because they assume that the work produced is the same no matter who you get it from and, therefore, that it makes sense to just buy from the person selling the identical thing for the lowest price.

The problem is that they’re very wrong. If you were talking about everybody selling the exact same make and model of a particular product with all of the exact same specifications, like a phone, it would make sense for the buyer to seek the person selling that product for the lowest price. However, skilled services are no such product. Confidential resources for information are no such product. I cannot believe that anybody would think that research into an area such as what and how many bank accounts a subject has nationwide, knowing that they probably want as much thoroughness as possible, would think that they could get such thoroughness for $200 or $300, which is what some people believe. They also believe that they would be buying the same level of thoroughness and attention to detail in the prevention of errors and effort against the provision of incorrect information as they would if they paid a firm $1,500-$2,500.

Asset searches are one of the easiest things to get away with not doing thoroughly and not having your client or legal services professional realize that you have delivered an inferior service since the buyer doesn’t know what you failed to find for them. So when that low priced asset determination firm says “no accounts were found” or “only one account was found,” you, the buyer, have no idea how thorough their efforts were. I happen to know exactly how inadequate their research was, because over the last five decades my firm has been fixing those failures when clients decided to take a second look at such research projects and came to us to execute that research thoroughly and correctly. Time after time, we have shown that inadequately funded investigative efforts result in insufficiently thorough and poor return on investment results.

Hire a skilled, qualified provider

Not to bore anyone with some of the sausage making details, but one example of why skilled/quality providers of asset determinations are different is that they will attempt to acquire the asset related intelligence using more than one resource. So, your cheap “bank search guy” may do a database search of some kind and charge you $300.  A real investigative professional may use multiple confidential banking industry sources in multiple states, surveillance, trash pulls, and other resources to ensure thoroughness and accuracy. To me, I liken your choice to picking a psychologist or a phrenologist; I just cannot believe anyone would choose the latter, or a $300 asset search.

With regards to surveillance professionals, I’ve seen firms employing college freshmen to do surveillance who lack any relevant experience and possess zero skills to do it effectively and discreetly. Nor have these unskilled persons ever learned to write good reports or testify in court. A lack of proper court testimony skills is just another torpedo aimed at buyers of the least expensive investigative services. These cheap firms regularly win work away from firms employing former law-enforcement and intelligence community professionals, all of whom have run surveillance operations for decades all over the world, because they are the lowest priced. Consumers (individuals and even legal services professionals) regularly make this mistake and then come to us to rectify the problems and address the disasters created by these low priced/unskilled resources. Now they or their clients have spent 2 to 3 times (or more) of what they would have if they just went with a competent professional the first time instead of the cheapest. Additionally, many times the damage is not fixable by this point.

Here is the first entry in our firm’s FAQ, in which I try to make the point of this article in a few sentences:

Why shouldn’t you just hire the cheapest investigator you can find?

Would you want the cheapest doctor, lawyer, or other professional you could find? If the answer is yes, then you should go ahead with the cheapest investigator. Otherwise, consider this: Almost one-third of our business is and has always been from clients who have gone to the cheapest first, found out why they were the cheapest, and then came to us to rescue their cases. Unfortunately, at that point they are spending twice as much as they originally needed to. Logic dictates that, no matter the profession, a firm must charge an amount sufficient to employ the very best individuals in their industry, and that amount will necessarily be more than other firms to retain those highly skilled professionals.

So, harkening back to the beginning where I say it is a dumb question; seriously, if you needed a lawyer or neurosurgeon or cardiologist, would you call around for the cheapest? Of course not, which is why it’s a dumb question.

About Prudential Associates

Prudential Associates was founded by former Army Intelligence Officer Robert Miller in 1972, who began serving the local legal community as an investigative, surveillance, and intelligence resource.

Prudential Associates has expanded its service footprint geographically and added over 70 extremely valuable staff members and experts; our consulting and service operations have taken place in thousands of locations on nearly every continent. To date we have achieved recognition as the premier resource for clients in sectors such as: television and movie production; maritime services and shipping; large event/concert planning & security; pharmaceutical production; shipping and logistics; human capital management; and, perhaps most notably, in the legal service industry, given our highly distinguished investigative, surveillance, and digital forensics expertise.

Our in-house computer and cell phone forensics lab rivals or exceeds the capabilities of over 90% of the law enforcement labs in the United States, as well as over 99% of those overseas.

For a greater insight into our experience, expertise, and operational history, please see our Corporate Resume.

Contact us today to discuss ESI and your digital forensic needs. Get in touch with one of our experts now by visiting www.prudentialassociates.com.