A private investigator (often abbreviated to PI and informally spelled private eye), private detective or inquiry agent, is a person who can be hired by individuals or groups to undertake investigatory law services. Private detectives/investigators often work for attorneys in civil cases. A handful of very skilled private detectives/investigators work with defense attorneys on capital punishment and criminal defense cases. Many work for insurance companies to investigate suspicious claims. Before the advent of no-fault divorce, many private investigators were hired to search out evidence of adultery or other conduct within marriage to establish grounds for a divorce. Despite the lack of legal necessity for such evidence in many jurisdictions, according to press reports collecting evidence of adultery or other "bad behaviour" by spouses and partners is still one of the most profitable activities investigators undertake, as the stakes being fought over now are child custody, alimony, or marital property disputes.
Private investigators can also be used to perform due diligence for an investor who may be considering investing money with an investment group, fund manager or other high risk business or investment venture. This could serve to help the prospective investor avoid being the victim of a fraud or Ponzi scheme. By hiring a licensed and experienced investigator they could unearth information that the investment is risky and or that the investor has suspicious red flags in his or her background. This is called investigative due diligence and is becoming much more prevalent in the 21st century with the public reports of large scale Ponzi schemes and fraudulent investment vehicles such as Madoff, Stanford, Petters, Rothstein and the hundreds of others reported by the SEC and other law enforcement agencies.
Famous quotes containing the words private and/or investigator:
“He said that private practice in medicine ought to be put down by law. When I asked him why, he said that private doctors were ignorant licensed murders.”
—George Bernard Shaw (18561950)
“O human creature, ... you are the investigator without knowledge, the magistrate without jurisdiction, and all in all, the fool of the farce.”
—Michel de Montaigne (15331592)