Over the past year, there’s been an increasing trend of fake private investigators attempting to scam, threaten or blackmail people into giving up their cryptocurrency. Here at Global Investigations, we’ve identified several instances of organisations and individuals actually pretending to be legitimate firms – ourselves included – with the goal of scamming Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Here, we break down some of the most common tactics they’ll use, in addition to how you can spot a fake private investigator online, from a legitimate agency.
Duplicating Legitimate Agencies
A priority for any scam agency is to try and prove they are legitimate in order to gain your trust. One of the ways they do this is by duplicating an existing website, or even using the legitimate website and pretending to represent that agency. That can make it extremely difficult for the average user to identify when a private investigator is legitimate from their first point of contact.
A good example is a recent fake copy of our website – https://globalinvestigations.co/.
In this instance, the spammers have duplicated the site, and bought a very similar URL, except it’s a .co, rather than a .co.uk.
That’s a Colombian extension, but is often used by spammers to represent international websites, due to its similarities to both .com and .co.uk websites.
Threatening To Expose or Leak Images & Videos
Another popular tactic is to threaten to release images or videos, typically of a sexual nature, in order to extort money from the person they’re targeting. The fake private investigator will claim to have footage or images of their victim committing a sexual act, and unless they receive cryptocurrency as payment, they’ll release it publicly
This scam is often used on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, as well as dating apps and websites. The scammer will find their victim online, and send them a direct message through the platform they’re using, threatening to release the images
The fake investigator will often use the same profile picture across all social media platforms, in an attempt to look legitimate. However, upon closer inspection, you’ll often find that the image has been taken from a Google search or another website, or even an AI generated image.
Promising An Inheritance or Payout After A Finder’s Fee or Commission
One increasingly common trick follows the same vein as the classic “Nigerian Prince” scam. Essentially, the “private investigator” will inform you that as part of a probate or discovery process, they’ve realised that you are entitled to part of an inheritance from a distant relative.
This number will normally be in the hundreds of thousands, or even the millions, and all they need to release the funds to you are:
- Copies of Your Bank Details
- A Finder’s Fee or Commission (Usually in Bitcoin or Another Cryptocurrency)
- Access to Personal Information to “Verify Their Investigation”
A legitimate private investigator won’t ever ask for any of the above. If an investigator does approach you via email or instant message requesting any of the information above, they’re a scammer and need to be reported.
Commercial Espionage Scams
We’ve also seen evidence of commercial espionage scams being on the rise. This can be where the fake detective contacts your business and claims that they have access to your sensitive data, which they’re willing to delete for a fee, or they have information on your competitors which they are willing to sell for a fee.
This is particularly common in technological industries, where software can be a closely-guarded secret, and falling foul of private data laws, such as GDPR, can often result in hefty lawsuits.
Again, a legitimate private investigator will never engage in this kind of behaviour and, as such, needs to be either completely ignored or reported as soon as possible.
In these instances, it’s also worthwhile informing your employees about the scam, just in case any of them are contacted individually.
Our Tips On How To Avoid Fake Private Investigation Scams:
- Have You Hired A Private Investigator? – It might seem incredibly simple, but if you haven’t directly employed a private investigator, it’s probably fake. Legitimate private investigation teams would never get in touch with someone they’re investigating – particularly during the investigation or with the goal of extorting money.
- Are They Asking For Information or Money? – If the investigator is asking for money, cryptocurrency or even information you wouldn’t freely hand out, then you should beware. A legitimate private investigator shouldn’t get in touch with you requesting anything – if they do, it will typically be in a way you can verify their identity.
- Do Your Research – If you’ve been contacted, do your research! It can be difficult, but don’t trust the website or email at face value. Make sure you perform a Google search for the business they pretend to be from, or their name. Don’t just do a cursory search either – take the time to look for reviews, or websites which look similar but with significantly more content or presence online. It might only take 10 minutes to identify a fake private investigator, but it can cost your thousands, if not tens of thousands of pounds, if you don’t carry out this legitimacy check.
- Contact A Real Private Investigator – If, for example, you receive an email from Global Investigations, get in touch through the co.uk website, or tracing.com Make sure you discover which website is legitimate, and call or email the number on there. That way, you’ll be able to prove whether an email is from a legitimate source.
Being Scammed or Threatened By A Fake Private Detective? Get In Touch With Global Investigations Today
Here at Global Investigations, we have extensive experience when it comes to identifying fake private investigator schemes, and can often help you to bring those accountable to justice. In the past, we’ve worked closely with the police and fraud investigators to identify and prosecute those involved in scamming people under the guise of professional private investigations.
For more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch through the contact form, our email or any of the legitimate numbers at the top of the site.