With globalization, international commerce, an abundance of overseas suppliers, remote workers, business partners, and clients from abroad, the demand for Due Diligence and verifications of foreign entities had grown considerably. To ensure that Canadian companies are dealing with trustworthy parties, who will not bring financial, reputational, or legal risks to the partnerships, business owners and corporate managers need information about them from a variety of foreign sources to mitigate risks associated with the new foreign relationships.
At the same time, private individuals are increasingly looking for their long lost friends or estranged relatives who, due to the ease of travel and migration (special circumstances such as pandemic aside), might have moved to other countries. Similarly, they may be looking for their former spouses or debtors who fled Canada to escape their legal and financial obligations (such as repaying a debt or paying child or spousal support).
Regardless of the reason, with advances in technology, communication systems, and the availability of numerous databases, it is possible to conduct a variety of searches from behind a desk from anywhere in the world. However, the information gathered from the Internet, foreign news outlets, public records, and subscription services is often broad, incomplete, and outdated; which leaves a lot of gaps that can only be filled through local contacts, area canvassing, witness interviews and surveillance, that can only be performed by being physically present on location.
While searching those online sources can be effective for low risk and simple situations, when someone is actively trying to remain hidden or when a company or its executives are involved in activities of a less than reputable nature, this type of research will not be very productive since the type of information that is required in the more complex situations, will not be easily available online or be published in public databases.
This is especially true for jurisdictions with no modern infrastructure or proper record keeping, and countries that have high levels of corruption and poor track records of reporting negative events. This is also true for countries where information is not accessible to foreigners due to language barriers, strict government controls, or protocols and requirements that are only known to the locals.
This means that that “boots on the ground” is often the only way of obtaining complete and reliable information.
Nonetheless, the days when clients would pay for an investigator to follow a subject across the country or internationally are long gone. While it still happens in extreme cases involving wealthy clients, for the majority of people, it does not make a lot of financial sense to pay for all the extra fees associated with sending a P.I. abroad in order to conduct an investigation. Meaning that hiring a local Private Eye from a specific area is the next best thing.
This, however, comes with its own set of challenges as many foreign jurisdictions have no regulations regarding private investigations, meaning that anyone, regardless of their level of experience, education, or professional background, can call themselves a Private Investigator which, of course, can have negative consequences on the outcome of the case if the person is not qualified to perform such activity.
Aside from being unreliable, the information obtained by an untrained and unlicensed individual has a high chance of being gathered illegally, making it inadmissible in court, should any litigation be required following the case. Also, there is a high probability that the so-called or self-proclaimed investigator will “burn” the case by revealing themselves to the subject, making any further investigative efforts more difficult, if not impossible.
For this reason, it is crucial to pick the right, qualified, and verified investigator who operates in the area where an investigation is needed. But this can also be a difficult task, especially for clients who are not familiar with the investigative world and who do not know what to look for in an investigator; or for clients who do not have any contacts who can provide them with a recommendation and vouch for an investigator capable of performing the required tasks efficiently and legally in a different jurisdiction.
What to do when an international investigation is needed?
The easiest way, of course, is to contact a licensed and well established Canadian investigator, who through their years of experience and interactions with other investigators and professional related to this field, had developed a solid network of contacts who may offer help (or at the very least point them in the right direction) in a given situation. The benefit of this lies in its simplicity as the client only interacts with their local investigator who they can easily reach and understand, and with whom they can sign a legally bounding and enforceable agreement.
Canada-based investigators will be able to assist their clients with the first part of the international investigation and conduct Open Source searches and other online verifications. And since they are familiar with the field, they will be able to verify and confirm the credentials of any other investigator that may be available for an overseas assignment for the second part of the investigation. This will drastically reduce the risks of obtaining unconfirmed, unreliable, and illegally gathered information from unlicensed and questionable individuals.
Alternatively, if the client does not want to deal with a “middle man” and prefers to deal directly with a foreign investigator, they can locate one through different international professional associations such as the World Association of Detectives (W.A.D.) or World Association of Professional Investigators (WAPI) or any other local (country and state level) investigators’ associations, if such exist in a particular jurisdiction.
The benefit of finding an investigator through a professional association is that almost all of them, require some sort of credentials, experience, licensing, or background verification for their members, which increases their reliability and credibility while drastically reduces the chances of stumbling upon self-proclaimed investigators and inexperienced or unqualified individuals.
It is important to keep in mind that even after finding a reputable investigator belonging to a respectable association, it might still be difficult to reach them and work with them due to time zones and cultural, linguistic, and regulatory differences. Most importantly, any service agreements made with foreign investigative agencies or individuals may be difficult, if not impossible, to enforce which makes accountability a concern worth taking into account (especially for delicate situations that may require legal action down the road).
Trust and reliability are two of the main factors (among others) that need to be considered when hiring a Private Investigator (or any professional). Regardless of whether the investigation will be conducted locally or abroad, it is imperative to put some effort into finding a trustworthy investigator in order to ensure that the required work will actually be completed and will produce useful, authentic, and reliable results that were legally obtained; all while avoiding unnecessary complications or creating more problems than existed before engaging the services of a particular agency or individual.