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  • Writer's pictureDenis Mesek

Why insurances companies have to choose carefully their surveillance partner - Fraud Investigation

In addition to the fact that fraudsters are becoming more and more sophisticated and ingenious when it comes to defrauding insurance, it is increasingly difficult to unmask them. Employing the wrong team to conduct surveillance can be very costly, completely ruin your investigation and even damage your reputation.

So how to choose the right partner...


A Surveillance Operator or a Private Detective?

The difference between a surveillance operator and a private detective is as great as a police officer of the observation brigade and a surveillance operator of a military unit.

It is not by hazard that I am mentioning this to you . In the world of surveillance, it is necessary to discern which are generally the two professions which surveillance operators and private detectives come from to understand the world that separates them.

Indeed, throughout my career I have had the opportunity to rub shoulders with many "operators" or "detectives" in the private field. I have essentially noted that the majority of operators are either former police investigators or former soldiers; often former member of elite unit as for my part.

This distinction, which may seem benign, nevertheless brings a considerable difference in the way of operating related to these two environments. And, this difference can be crucial for the success of your project! That's why I'm going to reveal some keys that will help you choose your surveillance partner.

First, we need to identify the operating context of these two environments in order to reveal the methodology that leads to this difference. When we analyse the context, we can see that they are actually two totally different worlds. Therefore, the operating methodology is exhaustively different.

Let's take a closer look at this famous context that makes these two environments so similar, and yet so different...

First of all, and without even looking very far, we can see that a military operator operates essentially in foreign territory; even though if it happens more and more to see these units operate at home. While a police officer will operate only at home and even very often in known territory.

This demarcation, as obvious as it is, leads to a difference in the way these two environments operate. Indeed, operating in foreign territory requires on the one hand, much more preparation, attention and risk management; in particular the risk of being discovered or "burned" as we say in the jargon of the trade. You can imagine that being discovered in foreign territory and being discovered at home does not involve the same consequences at all!

In addition, a police officer conducting surveillance; acting as an authority; cares little or nothing about what is called "the third party". By "third party" we simply mean all the people who are part of the environment, including passers-by, road users, people on terraces, windows and balconies, etc.

While a military operator on the contrary, because it operates in foreign territory, it pays special attention to "third parties" and its entire strategy is based on the environment in which it operates. Going through the dress code, the choice of vehicle, the equipment he will use and many others...

And at first glance we can say to ourselves, but how important is it if the neighbour on the corner or the guy drinking his coffee on a Terrace spots me doing a surveillance...

However, you will see that in reality this detail alone can seal the fate of your success!

Indeed, it is important and even paramount to pay particular attention to the third party when on a surveillance operation. On the one hand you do not know what relationship your target might have with the third party, and on the other hand this famous party may simply be infested with counter-surveillance operators, depending on who your target is.

In order for you to understand better, here is a concrete example. A few years ago, we were commissioned by a client who needed our experience and expertise in counter-surveillance because he suspected he was the target of a private surveillance team to steal some trade secret.

Our mission was to accompany, undercover, the client in his travels and identify any potential surveillance that would be conducted on him or on the locations he frequents.

That day, we deployed our team, and once arrived in the city centre, very quickly, I spot a person with an unnatural behaviour. So I start to observe this person more closely and pass on the communication to my team. After a few moments, this same person hides behind a corner of a building, takes out his camera and begins to burst in the direction of our client. It's confirmed! Our client is under surveillance as he suspected, remains only to identify the size and identity of the counterparty...

A beginner's mistake that cost them the success of their project on the one hand. But the biggest loss is certainly the financial loss suffered by their client, corresponding to the detectives' fees; a fee paid for a failed operation...

And sometimes it's not even necessary to have to put a counter-surveillance team in place. Informed neighbours or an observant passerby are all simple elements that can derail an operation and cost you money!

Indeed, a few years ago, in the middle of the Christmas period, we were contacted by a client who needed surveillance on an individual wanted by Interpol and several governments. Being a busy period, I told the client that we could not start the mission for several weeks. The client being in a hurry, did not want to wait and decided to contract in a hurry a local team quickly found on the internet.

It turns out that this is a mistake that cost him dearly...

The local team, being simple private detectives, did not know how to adapt to the context and were not aware of the real stakes.

Surveillance Day N°1: When the surveillance team ended up with handcuffs on the wrists...

One morning in December, shortly before Christmas, the local surveillance team sets up. The target was located in a small residential area in the middle of the countryside, very quiet. However, it was the perfect place for surveillance as the neighbourhood was surrounded by forest, but most importantly, it was located in a cul-de-sac. In other words, only one access in and out. Paradise for a surveillance team! No need to expose yourself and by monitoring the only access to the residential area it is almost impossible that the "trigger" misses its target...

However, it didn't take long for a neighbour to spot them and warn the target. What follows is worthy of a scene from a comedy movie. The target's wife went out to confront the detectives; who had kindly parked in front of their house and stayed both on the front seat of the vehicle; she called the authorities and they ended up at the police station. I let you imagine the dissatisfaction of the end client and the reputation that this event has forged for the detectives...

And even after that, surveillance on the target was still necessary. But from then on the game wasn’t the same at all!

When we finally arrived on the field to try to make up for this monumental mistake, we had to adapt and take special measures not to suffer the same fate. And now the whole neighbourhood was on guard, the local police had increased patrols and residents had mandated a security company to monitor the area!

But I reassure you, finally we managed to keep the target under control for about a month, until the evening when the target tried to flee the country under a false identity. Fortunately, we were prepared for this scenario and still had the target under control. We then immediately warned the client, who warned the authorities which then led to the arrest of the individual just when he was about to board a plan with false documents.

"Surveillance is an art that requires a lot of practice and training in order to be mastered, which is why at Eyes On Target we have been training and performing for several years now and continue to develop our techniques, in order to provide you with the best possible quality of service."


A few simple tips to find the right surveillance partner.

First of all it is important to define the context. It is clear that if your goal is simply to determine if your spouse is cheating on you, any detective will do the trick and he will even be much better suited to the situation because he will surely be much cheaper than a professional surveillance operator team!

However, when it comes to HVT (High Value Target), politicians or individuals with the means to surround themselves with counter-surveillance and bodyguards, the simple detective will unfortunately be very quickly overwhelmed .

Then, you should know that a simple question is enough to differentiate a good detective from a bad one, a good operator team from a bad one.

You can just ask the following question: Have you ever suffered a "loss"?

If the answer is no. Hang up and start looking for someone else!

You should know that in the world of espionage and surveillance, loss is part of the job, and happens from time to time. So a detective or operator who tells you that he has never suffered a loss is either a liar or inexperienced. And I say it loud and clear!

Additionally ask him what is his operational methodology. Does it operate solo or as a team? When it comes to large-scale operations, a professional will never work alone because it is almost impossible to keep someone under control for many hours or days alone. In addition, working alone considerably increases the risk of being detected and exploding the "Heat meter"!

With these two simple questions you can already get an idea of the quality of your correspondent and determine if he is suitable for your project.

Surveillance is an art that requires a lot of practice and training in order to be mastered, which is why at Eyes On Target we have been training and performing for several years and continue to develop our techniques, in order to provide you with the best possible quality of services.

In addition, the private sector lacks regulation and nowadays, anyone can claim to be a private detective or operator. It is therefore very important that you understand the risks of mandating the wrong people to carry out surveillance. This could cost you immensely and even create many legal issues.

At Eyes On Target, we always consult with our legal partner before accepting a project and before acting on the field. This guarantees our clients peace of mind with regard to the law and prevents them from losing large sums of money.

Visit our service page and book your free consultation now to find out how we can help you fight fraud.


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