Surveillance Quality

Surveillance

Dirigo Investigations, like most investigation firms offering surveillance investigations  sends out our Investigators on assignment, providing them with details of where to go, when to go, and what to do. We constantly think about surveillance quality and how to improve it.

INVESTIGATOR TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE IS DIRECTLY LINKED TO SURVEILLANCE QUALITY AND IS VERY IMPORTANT

What do we do different than other surveillance firms? TRAINING. POLICIES. SUPERVISION.

We do not accept “this is the way I have always done it” statements regarding surveillance quality. We train Investigators how to use the latest technology, surveillance positioning, lighting strategies and optics to get the best possible result. Surveillance is difficult even under the best of conditions. To not leverage every single advantage is a professional mistake. Any business endeavor, especially businesses that include aspects involving service and fraud detection; excellence and impeccable procedures is a must. This is not to suggest that creativity should be taken away from Investigators; it means that creativity has to be balanced with best practices and good guidelines. Best practices and adherence to guidelines is the result of the combination of experience and training. How many investigation forms actually conducted formal training last year for their Investigators?

“We do not retain surveillance Investigators who do not show base competency and/or a solid commitment to constant professional improvement” states Dirigo president Thomas Santaguida. Many investigators started 20 or more years ago and currently retain “flat” skills and worse, are resistant to improving or doing things in a new way.

As professional investigations service providers, Investigation form owners owe it to themselves and more importantly to their Clients and the overall professionalism of their industry to maintain the absolute best practices policies. A passion for excellence is important. Does this mean our work will be flawless, without mistakes or never needing improvement? Absolutely not! It is the recognition of the fact that we can always strive to do better than  keeps us on the top of the profession.

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Surveillance photo – subject in light green shirt is a Claimant with a reported back injury and no ability to walk, bend, lift or work.

Hiring Fraud

HIRING FRAUD – HOT TOPIC!!!!

Hiring Fraud?

Yes, there certainly is such a thing. Unfortunately, hiring fraud is relatively common, takes many shapes and forms and does indeed have victims. Often, victims suffer a direct loss by not getting the position because someone else fraudulently got it or suffer a loss they do not even and never will realize, or they may suffer in an ancillary way. Quantifying hiring fraud is difficult because understanding exactly how much of this occurs is nearly impossible.

A general and relevant definition of fraud for this article is:

  • a person or thing that deceives and/or intentionally deceive others, typically by unjustifiably making a decision or claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.

A typical case study might look like this: 

A government agency expects to obtain new budget dollars to create a certain position. Long before the government bureaucracy is able to fund and actually create the position, a senior administrator decides that they would like a certain person to have the position — but without any real understanding of that person’s true professional abilities and qualifications, as it relates to the new position. The person is secretly promised the position. The reason for the selection is because the administrator knows and likes the person and wants to hand select the person that will have this job so they can have a person in the position they like and can work with.

(Every jurisdiction has different hiring rules and procedures. This study is a general study and not associated with any particular jurisdiction. However, it should be noted that at the level of the position in question in this study, the administrator may indeed have had the right to simply tap someone’s shoulder and pick them for the position without any process at all. However, the politics of doing so often involves internal and external politics, causes great nuisances and problems for government entities. So, fake competitive processes are used to give the appearance of fairness. This fraudulent process enables the hiring agency to choose who they want and not have any push back afterward).

Months later, after the government bureaucracy machine works its way through the red tape, the position is created and low and behold — it is advertised as and open and “competitive process” incredulously even after secret discussions had been had long ago with the person who ultimately gets the job. There are many reasons to create a real competitive process, but remember in the this case, the person who the top administrator wants for the position has already been promised the slot. So, in this study, the phony process is made to look competitive and fair but it really isn’t. This permits the government officials to select the person they want in advance but make the outcome appear fair.

The government agency sets up an elaborate process — it takes staff time to develop, administer and review. Advertising occurs and remember again that all this goes on while that the person who gets the job has already been promised the job months before — the process includes a resume review, and multiple interviews. Nearly 50 people apply for the job. Many of the applicants have extensive experience directly related to the position and in fact, have held almost identical positions in other government agencies. One applicant has had direct experience with the new position for nearly 10 years — having previously handled many of the duties that the new position will assume. But none of these applicants gets the job – it goes to the lesser qualified hand picked person.

So what’s the harm?

Applicant Property Loss (Employment) – Many of the applicants notify their employers they are seeking another position. Two are terminated from their current employment – yes, this is a risk they take when they seek other employment. But again remember that these applicants believe they have a good shot at the position — after all, it is a fair and competitive process.

Applicant Deception – In this study, the government lied to its citizens. Citizen applicants were advised they were going to participate in a fair and objective process and the successful applicant would be chosen based on criteria that is relevant to experience and skill. Little did the applicants know the job was filled before they applied. The applicants spent hours researching the job, purchasing books to study with, took off time from work and away from their families to prepare and spending precious travel time and dollars traveling to interviews — hey, it was worth it after all — they had a fair shot right? Wrong.

Applicants bought new suits and dresses, got their hair done and asked their partners and spouses to sit with them and do mock interview scenarios so they would have the best shot at presenting themselves and their qualifications. They spent money they would have used to take their family out to dinner on gas, tolls and travel. Yet, the entire effort — multiplied many times by all the applicants combined — was in vain. Remember? The position had already been filled.

Later, even the emotions and feelings of these unsuccessful applicants could never be truthfully reconciled. They left the final interview thinking they had a good shot — felt good about themselves and their performance in the process. After they were not selected, they recapped everything they did, examined their past employment and performance and maybe came up with some areas they might improve upon. However, all of this post process self-examination by all of the non-select applicants is completely invalid – their process performance may never be objectively evaluated by anyone. The hiring for this position was done in secret, months in advance and the process was fake. This process was tantamount to a betrayal.

Transparency and Fairness – As citizens in a democracy, is it too much to expect that OUR government agencies will actually conduct OUR business they we have authorized them to do on OUR behalf–  transparently and fairly? When a government agency does not handle OUR business, the people’s business in a fair and transparent manner – someone gains unfairly and other people are harmed unfairly. Fairness is a foundation principle of democracy in the context of reward in the form of employment.

Honesty and Fraud –  A basic tenant of fraud is the use of lies and/or deception. Clearly, the study above is full of both. The process was fake and the outcome was not legitimate because an under qualified person was selected and the results were predetermined. Once the job was offered to the person before it was even created, everything afterward was a lie and deception. When citizens are deceived by a government agency, they suffer a loss — in many tangible and not so tangible ways.

General Property Loss and Economic Harm – In the study, someone gained employment. This is a fraudulent employment windfall for the person pre-selected. The other applicants, a number of whom would probably have attained the position in a fair, truthful and objective process all suffer property loss because they may have been selected for the position if the process was again fair and objective. Fraud prevented other, far more deserving applicants from having a fair shot and ultimately obtaining the position.

Position Incompetence and The Cost of Cronyism – What is the cost of this concept!? Who knows!? When a person is selected for a government position and is unskilled, does not possess the necessary experience and qualifications and is truly inadequate for the position, they harm the public they are serving and do a great disservice. Inefficiency results in extra training that may be required, other employees having to take up slack, incorrect and costly decisions occurring — inefficiency costs dollars — dollars that are being provided by citizens — so who pays? Citizens do. Twice. We pay extra for what should be a lot less expensive and far more efficient delivery of services. An entire book could be written about the economic impact of cronyism in the context of hiring practices.

This case study outlines a fraudulent government hiring process. If you, the reader, takes an opportunity to consider the entire negative impact of hiring fraud – whether public sector or private sector – you will develop a very large list of serious impacts this deceptive practice has on individuals and on society. Unfortunately, the old saying “its not what you know its who you know” unfairly manifests itself in a fraudulent hiring practice scenario. “Who you know” may certainly be used legitimately to one’s advantage on many, many an occasion – but it simply has no place in a fraudulent hiring process.

Every citizen who values fairness, government transparency and the truth and  experiences or has knowledge of hiring fraud should make reasonable attempts to expose and correct the situation. I hope this article assist the reader to identify and  understand this type of fraud when they see it.

The author, Tom Santaguida, is the owner of Dirigo Investigations, a Brunswick, Maine based  investigations company. He spent 20 years working for government agencies, 10 years of which he was a top administrator. He is a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Tom may be reached at tom@dirigois.com

 

 

Dirigo Investigations Update October 2013

 Maine Comp Summit 2013 – Dirigo Investigations has had a busy summer. In August company representatives attended the Maine Comp Summit at the Samoset Resort in Rockport. The event was well attended, and it was great to connect with professional associates, Clients and potential new Clients. Congratulations to Attorney Lindsey Sands of Norman, Hanson and DeTroy, who won the Starbucks gift card at our table drawing! We are already looking forward to next year’s summit.

Maine State Bar Association, Legal Year in Review – Dirigo Investigations is proud to be a professional corporate sponsor of the MSBA. This year we again plan on attending the great end of the year event at the Augusta Civic Center – Legal Year in Review. Please stop by our table to visit and see if we can assist you with any professional investigation services.

Investigations Near and Far – 2013 has brought Dirigo Investigations all over the State of Maine and all over the world. WE have covered every county in Maine investigating every type of cases imaginable. WE have also handled assignments in Argentina, Portugal, South Africa and Colorado in 2013.

Dirigo to Refocus on Investigation Services – 2013 presented the firm with many challenges of all kinds. Dirigo management has made a decision that moving forward, our service delivery will focus on our investigation services. While we will continue to selectively provide security services, we are going to place more emphasis and focus on investigation services.

Enhanced Equipment and Technology – We have committed to procurement of advanced video technology and investigation equipment for 2o14 to enhance our surveillance operations. We look forward to implementation to provide even better results.

Commitment to Our Clients and To Results – We are absolutely committed to remaining Client focused and results oriented.

Contact: Thomas Santaguida, President/Senior Investigator   (207) 373-9317

About the author: Thomas Santaguida is the co-founder and President/Senior Investigator at Dirigo Investigations. Prior to private sector investigations, he spent 20 years as a state law enforcement officer, the last 10 as deputy chief and chief. He has conducted more than 3,000 criminal, civil and private sector investigations during his career. Tom is a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) and the Maine Licensed Private Investigator’s Association. Tom may be reached at: tom@dirigois.com

 

 

Dirigo Investigations to Attend 2013 Maine Comp Summit

Dirigo Investigations will once again be an exhibitor at the Maine Comp Summit at the beautiful Samoset Resort at the end of August. More details to follow, but please stop by and visit us at our table booth!

Contact: Tom Santaguida, President – Dirigo Investigations  tom@dirigois.com   (207) 373-9317

Dirigo Investigations and Security, LLC, Thomas Santaguida – President Brunswick Business Center, 18 Pleasant Street Brunswick, ME

Samoset Resort: http://www.samosetresort.com/

Missing Father Located by Dirigo Investigations

Contact: Tom Santaguida, Director – Dirigo Investigations and Security, LLC (207) 373-9317 or tom@dirigois.com

Father Missing For 33 Years Located for Daughter by Dirigo Investigations

March 6, 2013

Each year Dirigo Investigations conducts hundreds of investigations of all types. During the course of each year, Thomas Santaguida, the Director of Dirigo Investigations, selects a few cases that he decides the facts of the case and the situation of the requester (the person requesting the investigation assignment) warrants conducting the investigation for free.

During February 2013 once such case presented itself before Dirigo Investigations. The story is outlined below. Names have been omitted to ensure the privacy of all parties.

February 2013

After receiving a referral to Dirigo Investigations from another Maine investigator a woman who formerly resided in a mid-Atlantic state requested an investigation to locate her birth father. She had never known her father, and her understanding of the relationship between her father and mother was that it was a very brief and informal relationship 33 years ago. The man had then left her mother’s life and was never heard from again.

Tom Santaguida was interested in the significance of the case and the fact that this woman had searched for 10 years with no success or assistance. She was not well funded and not able to afford the normal cost of the investigation effort to locate her Dad. Santaguida decided that Dirigo would take the case for free. The only information available was the place the Client’s Dad and Mom met in 1979, a name and what he was believed to have done for work – and a vague physical description. The work then began!

Using the man’s name (a very, very common name) a data query was made to various restricted access data sources. Using geographical and race markers, the field of possibilities was narrowed to 42 people. From there, using circles that widened out from the place last seen in 1979, the people with the same name as the Client’s father were charted on mapping software using cities lived in as a key factor. One of the subjects residence history coincided EXACTLY in conjunction of geography associated with the reported prior occupation of the man. This one subject was determined to be living in the Midwest. A generic call was placed to him and confirmed with high confidence that we had located the Client’s long lost father within 24 hours of starting the investigation.

After some due diligence and public domain analysis of the man, the Client decided to contact her probable father and keep her fingers crossed. She was not certain he would be responsive and if so, would he have a positive perspective or negative perspective on the situation?

A few days after sending him a certified letter, outlining her belief that he was her Dad, he called her and acknowledged that in fact, he was her father. He is ill but currently, an April visit and reunion of sorts is being planned.

Dirigo Investigations was very pleased to have the opportunity to assist this woman. While, we can’t do many cases for free, we provide numerous pro-bono investigation services each year.

Tom Santaguida, the company owner, strongly believes that contributing to the community at large is just as a succesful as running a profitable business. Everyone needs help sometimes – when the opportunity arises to assist, Dirigo is glad to help out. Events such as those described in the investigation case study above are LIFE CHANGERS for everyone involved, including the investigators!

D. Hunter Collins Promoted to Special Investigations Manager

Company Contact: Tom Santaguida, Director – Dirigo Investigations and Security, LLC (207) 373-9317

D. Hunter Collins, Investigative Analyst promoted to Special Investigations Manager

December 15, 2012

D. Hunter Collins, an Investigative Analyst with Dirigo Investigations since January 2012, has been promoted to the position of Special Investigations Manager. Mr. Collins will be involved with technical investigations, security system installations and technical troubleshooting, and investigation case manager functions. Hunter is a licensed investigator in New Hampshire and will be handling a variety of investigation assignments in the Granite State.

Thomas Santaguida, Director of Dirigo Investigations stated that Hunter’s performance, attitude and character, as demonstrated throughout the past year made it an easy decision to move him into a position of additional responsibility.

Hunter may be reached at Dirigo Investigations (207) 373-9317 or info@dirigois.com

 

Asset Searches and Asset Investigations

Dirigo Investigations and Security conducts asset searches investigations for many Clients including law firms and insurance companies and well as creditors who are experiencing a loss due to a possible bankruptcy.  Unfortunately, there are many occasions when assets are intentionally hidden or transferred to avoid detection.

Dirigo’s expert investigators use a creative combination of advanced restricted access data, careful e-analysis and in many case on the ground investigation techniques. We physically locate and if possible photograph and video record many assets that were previously not detected.

Call us today for a fee consultation.

Dirigo Investigations and Security, LLC, 18 Pleasant Street Suite 507, Brunswick, ME  04011   (207) 373-9317

Tom Santaguida, Managing Partner – tom@dirigois.com

Dirigo Investigations Works with Clients to Meet Client Needs First

Company Contact: Tom Santaguida, Managing Partner (207) 373-9317

Dirigo Investigations receives many inquiries from potential Clients regarding professional investigation services. Dirigo conducts just about all types of investigations, and we do that well. Many times, people who call us for information do not know where to begin looking for investigation services and are not familiar with the services and products professional private investigators deliver.

Managing Partner Tom Santaguida explains, “At Dirigo, we do not try to talk people into using us. Certainly we want more business. However, to meet our internal policy objectives and comply with our own guiding principles, we let ethics guide our discussions with potential Clients. First, after understanding what they are requesting, we explain our company capabilities and services – we discuss how an investigation may be carried out. Next, we discuss rates – how to save money for the Client – sometimes even referring them to another investigations firm that is closer to the case location. Finally, we explain our Client based case budget management guarantee. This system of case budgeting allows our Clients to set their case budget and we guarantee we never exceed that without their authorization. If we do, then we pay, not the Client.”

Dirigo Investigations continues to grow and expand in the slow economy; and in the opinions of both Managing Partners – Tom Santaguida and Christl Theriault – this is due to the excellent services provided, the great Investigator Team Dirigo has and the professional and thoughtful treatment of potential and existing Clients.

Please feel free to contact the Managing Partners for further information.

20th Annual Workers’ Comp Summit

Dirigo Investigations staff have been having a great time at the 20th Annual Workers’ Comp Summit at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, Maine. Meeting with existing Clients and associates, talking with other investigative firm vendors and advertising and promoting Dirigo’s excellent investigative services to potential future Clients have all made for a busy schedule.

The sessions on updates and legal aspects of worker’s compensation laws and practices in Maine have been extremely informative. The conference continues through today and wraps up tomorrow about noon.

Dirigo Investigations has been pleased to be a part of this year’s event and already looks forward to next year.

Contact: Managing Partner Tom Santaguida (207) 373-9317    tom@dirigois.com

Dirigo Investigations to Attend Maine’s 20th Comp Summit

Contact: Tom Santaguida, Managing Partner (207) 373-9317    tom@dirigois.com

DIRIGO INVESTIGATIONS staff will be present at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, Maine on August 26 through August 28, 2012 attending Maine’s 20th annual Comp Summit. The event is a professional meeting of all of the participants who work in the various sectors of worker’s compensation – investigation firms, attorney’s, insurance, third party administration and healthcare – all gather to learn the latest legal, professional and operations practices in the worker’s compensation claims realm.

Dirigo Investigations is one of the sponsors and will have an exhibitor booth in the Exhibit Hall.

Thomas Santaguida, Managing Partner at Dirigo will be in attendance and states he looks forward to the sessions that provide important updates on worker’s compensation laws and practices. Dirigo will also be promoting its professional investigation services, as it continues its growth goals along with continuous service delivery improvements.

Comes visit us at our booth at the Samoset!