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private investigator dirty work

A few weeks ago we received a call from a local hedge fund manager who was being harassed through a series of text messages by someone who had threatened to create a website detailing the hedge fund manager’s infidelities. It had not reached the point of extortion or blackmail, but it was clear that this person had some inside information and was not going to go away.

The hedge fund manager was concerned that his “private life” would be released to the public, and he wanted to track down the person who was sending the text messages.

All we had to go on was a telephone number that the person was texting from. That’s not much to go on. As I explained to him, there are a 1,001 ways to mask a telephone number so that it would be nearly impossible to track down the owner of the phone without some sort of help from law enforcement.

The problem is that this situation was not at the point where law enforcement would even “take a sniff of it.” The personal issues of a hedge fund manager are not high on the totem pole for the local police department. After all, no criminal offense had been committed.

As a first step, I offered to run some database research on the phone number through a series of professional and proprietary databases to see if the number popped up somewhere. If we had any leads, we could try to track down the person and get a sense of who they were.

But the hedge fund manager had other plans.

He wanted me to call and/or text the person and “threaten” and “intimidate” (his words, not mine) the person into revealing their identity and tell them that they would be arrested and prosecuted if they sent another message or released any information about the hedge fund manager.

Intimidating a person and throwing out empty threats on behalf of someone who called me out of the blue is not a case that I would covet.

It would have been a completely empty threat. You can’t be arrested or charged with anything based on a few texts that say you have some information about someone’s infidelity. Especially if it is true (which I suspect it was).

I nicely told him that it was not something that we would want to get involved with. Intimidating a person and throwing out empty threats on behalf of someone who called me out of the blue is not a case that I would covet.

His reply? “I thought that is what you guys do.”

Intimidate people?

Throw out empty threats?

With all due respect, no we don’t.

Nor would we ever.

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5 replies
  1. Jarris Fuller
    Jarris Fuller says:

    An interesting coincidence. I’ve had 3 similar (sort of) requests in the last 2 weeks; whereas, I can’t remember getting any requests like that for at least the last year. Things do run in threes.

    In each case the caller wanted me to phone the spouse of a person (allegedly) cheating with the spouse/partner of the caller and pass on info about the (alleged) affair. In each case they wanted me to identify myself as a PI and pass on information I had supposedly collected during an investigation. Did I (would I ever) do that? No! In fact, even if I had worked on a matter and had direct evidence of an affair, I still wouldn’t contact a third party and pass on info just because the client wanted me to.

    The things some people think private investigators will (or should) do.

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      Funny you should mention that … there does seem to be an uptick of “interesting” inquiries lately. They nearly always coincide with the full moon, however. And I am not joking.

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