I had a friend, not a PI, say to me the other day that finding people in today’s e-world of Google, people search databases and social media was a cinch. When I said not always, she added laughingly, “Well, let’s just say it’s not rocket science.”
My interpretation of her comment is that it’s easy to find people. Well, maybe she’s looked up a person or two on the Internet and it was easy for her. But then, they were probably people who weren’t actively avoiding being found for some reason–such as people who’ve committed a crime, or who don’t want to be served legal papers.
Why People Hire Private Investigators to Find People
To be fair, I’ve had instances where it’s been easy to find people. I love those instances. But often when a person or business hires a private investigator to find someone, that person/business has had a difficult time finding that individual, and after running out of options, they finally hire a PI.
Sometimes, as in the case of a law firm, their paralegal or maybe even another PI has run all kinds of searches in databases, including searches on the Internet, as well as visits to a subject’s last known residence and other techniques…and they’ve found no trail of the person. We’ve gotten our share of these difficult “locates” or “skips” (common terms for people whose locations are unknown). Maybe our work isn’t rocket science, but we’re not hired because it’s a no-brainer task–we’re hired because our business is to know, and to have experience using, different techniques and tools to continue the search.
A Few Interesting People Search Results
Once a law firm contacted us, anxious to find someone (we’ll call him Mr. Smith), but it was as though Mr. Smith had disappeared like a puff of smoke. They needed to find Mr. Smith ASAP, like yesterday. We ran all kinds of searches…then found a single item that pinpointed his current location: a small town newspaper mentioned that Mr. Smith had been arrested and was in jail.
Another time, a lawyer said he and his paralegal had pursued every single search possible, but they couldn’t find a woman who’d committed a crime in a nearby county several years back. He’d spoken to the women’s twin sister multiple times–all the sister knew was that her twin was living overseas in either England or the Bahamas. After all kinds of searches, phone calls and other research we discovered that the woman we were seeking didn’t have a twin–in fact, the “twin” the lawyer had been speaking to was, in fact, the criminal he’d been searching for. This was a very smart woman–had a doctorate, was well-known in certain intellectual circles–so smart, she’d found ways to fake documentation that she had a twin. These documents were very good, and they’d fooled not only the lawyer, but also law enforcement.
Last, we once found a missing little girl based on what we found in a dumpster (where we found a box with a return address label that we thought might be significant–we pieced together a network of friends and family from that single address, and one of them ended up being relatives in another state who knew the location of the little girl). The dumpster hadn’t been the first place we looked–our search had started with Internet research that evolved into door knocks and neighbor interviews.
Articles and Resources for Finding People
Below are a few articles on finding people, following by several resources. A word to the wise: Don’t rely on online sites that advertise they can find anyone for $19.95 (or whatever they charge). You don’t know how current their information is, or how often they update their databases, or the veracity of the information. Also, there’s also no “live” person to help you interpret your search results. If you’re really needing to find someone, and you’re having a difficult time, it’s advisable to hire a qualified PI (contact your local state professional private investigator association for recommendations).
Have a great week!
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5 Stars for The Zen Man
"A fantastic read from start to finish. Reminded me a great deal of the works of Robert Crais and Robert B Parker." ~MacKenzie Brown
2011 – 2012 Book Blog Tour Articles
January 14, 2012: Interview w/ Colleen at Chatterrific
February 3, 2012: Coffee Time Romance: The Zen Man-Read It, Wear It
February 14, 2012 Terry's Place: Lust, Ethics, and the Private Eye
February 17, 2012 Savvy Authors: Tips from a PI-Tracking the Bad Guys in Stories
February 27, 2012 Elizabeth A White blog: Do Private Eyes Solve Murders?
February 28, 2012 Book Reviews by Elizabeth A White: The Zen Man
March 10, 2012 StoreyBook Reviews: Interview and Review
March 22, 2012 Minding Spot: Book Review
April 17, 2012 Fresh Fiction: 5 Hot Private Eye Heroes