Russia and the Ukraine continue to develop and merge more towards the Western Europe model of economics and open markets consistent throughout the Euro zone. The two nations remain in a period of transition where fraud and scams run rampant. Unfortunately, this widespread fraud and corruption reaches all levels of Russian society, including private investigators. There are many cases where clients seek investigation services or consultation from a person or website claiming to be a “professional” or “private investigator” in Russia or the Ukraine, only to be scammed. In some cases the local takes the client’s money, and in return provides unacceptable service, or even no investigation at all. It’s important to do your research and choose your investigator carefully. Other locals attempt to work the case, but are simply not qualified. This advisory will help you choose a Russia investigator.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
1. Avoid a “company” that has no business address or phone number.
Maybe the easiest way to distinguish the real investigation company from a local is to check their contact us page. A real investigation company has a secure contact us page on their website, with a phone number and business address. A legitimate investigator will be happy to provide clients with a direct telephone number where he or she can be reached. If a investigator refuses to provide this information, keep shopping.
2. If it’s too cheap, it’s likely too good to be true.
If an investigator claims to offer a very professional service, at a very low price, it’s safe to assume something is not right. Professional Ukraine and Russia private investigator services can be expensive. Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in the world.
3. Buyer beware of investigators requesting Western Union.
A real company or reputable private investigator should have a website where the investigator accepts various forms of payment, including a secure website where you can pay by credit card. Using your credit card provides an extra level of protection.
4. Use an investigator who is available to discuss your case over the phone.
It’s hard to tell who you’re dealing with over the internet, so make sure your investigator is available over the phone. Often a brief phone conversation will allow you to ask important questions and determine if the investigator is right for you. It can also show you what kind of service you can expect. A professional firm will be available to answer your questions.
5. Avoid websites that appear unprofessional.
If the company’s website looks unprofessional, there is a good chance the services are also unprofessional. Insufficient budgets and training for development of the business, which can be detected when viewing the website, are often reflected in other areas as well, such as reports, surveillance equipment, vehicles, etc. Expect to pay more for quality service. As in other services, clients often get what they pay for.
6. Verify if the surveillance photos have time-date stamps.
Surveillance photographs during any professional investigation should have time-date stamps on them. This is industry standard and this type of photographic evidence should be included in daily reports to clients. If for any reason the investigator does not offer this service, keep shopping. A proper investigation should be supported by clear evidence.
7. Look for privacy seals, professional memberships and secure websites.
Because private investigation can involve sensitive data and information of a very private nature, look for an investigator with a website that displays privacy and professional seals such as Truste, McAfee and BBB. These seals require certain standards to be met in order to be displayed on the site. It takes a real company to be approved by such programs.
8. Avoid investigators who only accept PayPal.
PayPal is a legitimate and secure payment option, however, a red flag should be raised if this is the only way to pay your investigator. A professional investigator or Russia background check company should offer various forms of payment options, including the option to submit your credit card data directly via a secure website. A site that only offers PayPal shows you’re dealing with an individual, not a company.
9. Expect to pay a fair price.
Professional private investigation services can be expensive. Instead of trying to save a few dollars by choosing an unknown firm, try to work with a reputable company about the best option for you, and if an investigation will likely provide you with the evidence you need. Choosing a cheap investigator often means money wasted. Don’t shop by price alone.
10. Avoid any investigator who doesn’t speak fluent English.
English is commonly spoken by the educated population in Russia and Ukraine. For Russia due diligence, an investigator who doesn’t speak English fluently is likely unqualified, and this is a sign the investigator has few international clients. This is a major red flag.
11. Choose a U.S. or U.K. managed company.
Due to the prevalence of fraud and corruption throughout Russia, try to find and use a company that is managed or owned by a U.S. or U.K. company. This will ensure the company is managed according to stricter standards, and is held accountable for safer business practices, in general. This usually means better client service. If there is any problem with your case, this offers an extra level of protection.
12. Avoid investigators with no references.
Prior to paying an investigator, search the internet for references of the investigator or company. Chances are you can see what others are saying about the company by searching the internet. If you can’t find any information, ask for a reference.