How can surveillance help in fraud investigations and asset recovery?

21 December, 2018

How can surveillance help me in a fraud case?

Investment fraud cost Australians around $40 million in 2018, according to figures from ACCC Scamwatch. With securities fraud, boiler room scams and other types of complex financial fraud on the rise, and professional criminal gangs getting smarter, high-net-worth Australians and businesses are increasingly at risk.

If you think you might have been targeted by scammers, licensed asset recovery specialists can use a range of strategies to help recover your stolen funds. Alongside high-tech cybercrime investigation, traditional surveillance can also be vital for gathering evidence and catching suspects in the act.

Why is surveillance important?

There are limits to how much can be uncovered behind a desk. Data analysis can demonstrate possible fraud, but physical investigation and surveillance still plays an important role as investigators observe suspects and document their actions to obtain the evidence needed and plan for law enforcement raids.

Surveillance is the close observation of suspected individuals as well as locations, vehicles and other objects, using photos and video to prove their whereabouts or activities at certain times. A private investigator will wait, observe and document any activities or interactions that could help to prove suspected connections and daily routine.

How does fraud surveillance work?

When you contact a fraud investigation service to help you with stolen asset recovery, investigators will ask you questions to find out as much as they can and to help them plan the investigation. This will begin with extensive background checks of the parties involved, which may reveal a private address, business premises or other location that can be monitored.

The fraud investigator will familiarise themselves with the area and decide what type of surveillance and equipment is appropriate. This may include:

  • Physical observation – stakeouts of locations to observe individuals entering or leaving a building and vehicles parked outside, or tailing individuals or vehicles to observe their movements.

  • Technical surveillance – investigators may take photos and record video and audio of suspects and activities. This may be used as evidence, including videos from dashcams.

  • Electronic surveillance – depending on the type of investigation, private investigators and government agencies may monitor a suspect's social media, emails or phone calls or use other forms of communications intelligence.

  • Interviews – investigators may seek to obtain more information by interviewing neighbours, colleagues and other people who know the suspect.

  • Informants and infiltration – in more serious cases, agencies may rely on inside informants or investigators may go undercover themselves to gain the suspect's trust in the hope of securing evidence or confessions needed.

Is surveillance discreet?

Private investigators are trained and experienced at working undercover and not drawing attention to themselves. They familiarise themselves with a location before a stakeout, dress and park inconspicuously, and use discreet cameras and other modern equipment to avoid being noticed.

When conducting a stakeout or following a suspect, they avoid eye contact or other suspicious behaviour, such as not walking or driving too close or going past a property more than once. Vehicles may use tinted windows to obscure the investigator inside, except in situations where this would look suspicious.

Where can I find a fraud investigator?

If you think you or your business might be a victim of investment fraud, an asset recovery agency could help. It's important to check that an agency and its investigators are licensed and insured to carry out serious fraud investigations and have experience in this type of case.

IFW Global's private investigators use a combination of technical and physical techniques to track down criminals and secure the evidence needed for successful prosecutions. Our covert operatives use the latest surveillance tools and we have close working relationships with local law enforcement agencies to improve the chance of convictions being secured.

To find out more about how IFW Global investigators can help you, click below to download our free ebook 'Online Investment Fraud: How to Recover Your Stolen Assets.'

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