Do Private Investigators Lie? #147

Do private investigators lie? Let me start by saying I have been a private investigator in the insurance investigation industry since 2003 and in that time I have come across several investigators that were coworkers but also liars.  It’s incredible really to think that anyone would be a liar in any investigation industry.  Trust me when I say it happens.  It just probably doesn’t happen the way you think it happens. At least in my experience. 

I have had the displeasure of working with several liars over the years.  And in the investigative industry  working with the liar is a terrible position to be in for many reasons.

I tried to remember times when I knew a private investigator had lied about something that would directly affect the person they were investigating.  Like an investigator that made up something to incriminate someone they were investigating.   And I truthfully couldn’t remember anyone I had worked with that had done that.

So I conducted searches online to see if a private investigator had been caught lying about a file they had worked.  I struggled to find many instances of it.  I am not saying it hasn’t happened before but rather I don’t know many instances of it personally.

Private investigators do lie though.  Some are completely reasonable considering the work we are involved in.  Some lies facilitate the investigation we are involved in and an example of this would be pretexting.

How Do Private Investigators Lie?

Pretexting (yes it is lying)

Private investigators use a pretext (ruse or lie) when we are trying to disguise the reason we are doing something.  

If I am trying to locate someone I might call a phone number and pretend I am someone else when they answer in the attempt to locate the individual. Sometimes I have to conduct a pretext in person to a homeowner.  Many times I am just trying to find out if the individual is home.  

I have pretexted people in the past to learn more about them like the types of vehicles they drive or where a person has moved to.  It is a useful tool to use and typically only a tool that I use as a last resort.

Sometimes I just provide a pretext to a neighbor to justify the reason I am in a neighborhood if approached while conducting a surveillance.

I don’t use pretexting in a malicious manner. I have an objective (specific information I am looking for) when using a pretext.  If I nail the pretext then it means I got the information I was looking for.


Private Investigators Lying González

Instances Where I Have Known of Investigators Lying

Not Showing Up

Investigators work alone and when investigators work alone there is a tendency in this industry for some shady private investigator not to show up for their surveillance assignments.  Not showing up for an investigation and claiming to be at the assignment is called Ghosting.   

Investigators try to be slick about deceiving clients or even employers when not showing up to an assignment but they all eventually get caught.  

Saying a Subject Was Home When They Were Not

In the insurance investigation industry many companies and insurance companies have policies that the subject must be confirmed home by the 4 hour mark.  So if I arrived at the surveillance at 6 am. I had to confirm that the subject was home by 10 a.m. I can dive more into this topic another time but basically that is a general policy.  

I knew of one investigator (we will call him investigator C) that said he conducted a pretext at a residence, stated he confirmed who his claimant was through a pretext at the door by name and then videotaped this individual as if they were the subject.

It was later determined by a competent investigator that the person Investigator C identified as the subject was not the subject we were looking for.  He had lied about ever talking to anyone at the residence and just videotaped someone that fit the description of the person we were looking for. He wanted to bill out the day without doing his due diligence.

Other Instances of Private Investigators Lying

Their Experience

People lie about their experience to get a job in this industry and the investigators actually working in this industry can sniff out the liars.  It takes very little time to determine if someone has the experience they claim to have.  

Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod
Changing the time on your camera is a big no no.

Altering Times on Their Cameras

Some knuckle heads will move the time on their cameras to reflect that they got to an assignment on time when they actually arrived 30 minutes late.  Or they will push the camera times forward as if they have worked a full day but then leave early.  I still remember working for a company many years ago where there were always two investigator working a file.  And these shady investigators would always try to get me to leave a little early and say I worked a full 8 hours.  I would say, “If you want to leave then that is on you but I just can’t do that”.  And either out of guilt or being worried I would say something to the boss they wouldn’t leave.  They would just wait to do it with another investigator.  

Most of the lying doesn’t directly affect the person being investigated. It does effect the client and the company these shady investigators work for.  

For the companies that shady lying investigators work for it affects their production and inevitably their financial bottom line. If investigators don’t produce the clients will go with companies that do produce.  

Not only that, but I just can’t work with or for shady investigators.  If I don’t trust you as a person then I won’t trust your work product.  And if I can’t trust the work product it will affect the way I work a surveillance. Trust is an incredibly important thing in this industry.

Final Thoughts Regarding Lying

Nothing good comes from lying or fabricating information during an investigation.  Private investigators can only collect and document information that is available or observed to the best of our ability.  

I am sure there is more lying in this industry than I am aware of but this is the type of lying I have come across most in my 13 years of experience.  

If you are an investigator make sure you are always truthful and honest with your clients and your employers.  If you can’t be trusted then your career in the investigation industry will never really be a career.  I have personally watched many untrustworthy investigators lie their way out of a job and they forever have that stigma attached to them.

If you know of any articles or instances of investigators lying be sure to add it in the comment section.  




  1. Great article. I’ve never had this issue with an investigator that I was working with in the field. Back when I did a lot of vendor and sub work, I had some issues with supervisors at larger companies asking me to add an hour or two to reports, or lie about seeing the claimant at the 4 hour mark. I like my license to much to mess with that.

    • Thanks for the comment Tanner. There are plenty of shady investigators out there and you provided some examples of situations where companies try to be unethical. And those are the companies I can’t work for.