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What to ask a private investigator when finding someone

[A conversation with a potential client…]

John Doe: Hi, I’m interested in finding someone.

Me: OK, why do you want to find that person?

JD: I wrote a pretty large check to that person a few years ago, and I want to find out whether      the check has been cashed.

Me: OK, well, why don’t you just check with your bank?

JD: Well, it was a long time ago, and I don’t know whether it was cashed.

Me: I’m not sure I understand. When was the check written?

JD: 2009.

Me: And how much was it for?

JD: $30,000.

Me: Wouldn’t you have realized if $30,000 was missing from your bank?

JD: Not necessarily.

Me: OK, so you wrote a check in 2009 for $30,000, you don’t know whether it has been cashed, and now you want to find the person who you gave the check to.

JD: That’s right … Actually, I just want to find out whether the person attempted to cash the check.

Me: I thought you just wanted to find out whether it had been cashed?

JD: I’m not sure whether it’s been cashed, but I also want to know whether the person tried to cash the check.

Me: And why don’t you just contact your bank?

JD: Because it was a long time ago.

Me: But do they have any record of it?

JD: I don’t know.

Me: So you’re not sure whether your bank can tell you, but you want me to track him down and      you want to ask him?

JD: That’s right.

Me: (Sarcastically) Well, that clears things up. [Long uncomfortable pause as I Google whether      there is a full moon]. Something tells me that there’s more to this story.

JD: I really just want my [expletive] money back.

Me: Wait, I thought you gave him a check. Now the person owes you money?

JD: Yeah, a lot of money.

Me: [after determining that it is a full moon] I’m sorry, but it’s pretty clear that you’re not giving me the straight story. The reason that you want to find this person may be perfectly legitimate [highly unlikely, I think to myself], but whatever the reason is, I won’t take on a client who can’t even give me a straight story. I wish you the best of luck, but this is not something that we would take on.

JD: Thanks for your honesty. I get the feeling that if you knew the real story, you would never take on the case.

Me: Sounds like it.

We get calls like this almost daily.

It’s never the same script.

“It’s complicated” or “It’s a long story” is something I hear often. It’s usually some bizarre reason that someone needs to find someone else, like the phone fell in the toilet story, or they deleted their Facebook story or they just “lost touch.”

Whatever the real story is, I need to know it. Every last detail.

Why?

Quite simply, there are a lot of crazy people out there. Crazies who may be interested in finding people for unscrupulous reasons.

It’s pretty easy to weed out those who are interested in stalking their old girlfriend/boyfriend or rekindling an old flame that clearly shouldn’t be rekindled.

But it’s not always cut-and-dried.

I like to help people, and I am always willing to listen. However, if you can’t even get your story straight, it’s probably better not to call.

Or at least not call us.

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2 replies
  1. Barbara Lavdar
    Barbara Lavdar says:

    I ÀM LOOKING FOR EX HUSBAND. LAST TIME I HEARD FROM HIM ON THE PHONE ABOUT ONE MONTH AGO. HE SAID HE WAS GOING TO THE HOSPITAL FOR LUNG CANCER SURGERY. HE TOLD ME HE MOVED TO STOCKTON,TEXAS WITH HIS 71 Y. OLD WIFE .HE IS YOUNGER THEN SHE IS. I JUST WAS WONDERING IF HE IS OKAY.

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