Monday, December 26, 2005

Top Internet Scams at Sherlock

Internet fraud is at epidemic levels. The email pouring into Sherlock Investigations indicates that most of the scams involve low-end products, but some of these are in volume, resulting in great losses.

Before Christmas, a lot of people were ordering the Xbox 360 at greatly inflated prices because electronic stores were sold out. Of course, the Xbox 360 never arrived because it wasn't there in the first place. I-pods are in the same category.

Fake Rolex watches continue to be big sellers on the Internet. Customers often believe the story the seller posts about how he got the watches. If and when they arrive, they're a cheap imitation that literally falls apart. The stem is usually the first to go.

Fake Louis Vuitton and Chanel purses are hot. The problem is that the items are so low cost ($150-300) that it's not worth bothering to hire a private investigator to track down the seller. Trying to get your money back through eBay or PayPal is often problematic.

Expensive motorcycles are also hot. We've had very good results tracking down the sellers of motorcycles and other high end items, including investments of large sums of money with bogus Wall Street firms.

The Internet is a great way to shop. I buy all sorts of things from L.L. Bean, and my groceries from Fresh Direct. Be sure to always buy from reputable companies.

Never use Western Union when paying a stranger for an item. And remember the Skipp Porteous rule-of-thumb when buying from strangers on the Internet: "Never spend more than you can afford to lose."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Scrooges Are Us

Last winter an out-of-town client arrived for an appointment at our office in New York's Upper West Side. In the cab he found a woman's wallet. He turned it over to us after we promised that Sherlock Investigations would find the owner of the wallet.

Besides a Texas driver's license, the wallet contained a certain amount of money, including a $100 bill, plus an assortment of credit cards, and a company ID. This was plenty of information for us to find the owner of the wallet. After more than an hour of searching, we were unable to find the owner, or any relatives. However, we did find her phone number, and left a message for her to call us ASAP.

Just before we left the office that night, a frantic woman called. She was still in New York, and had called her number in Texas to check her messages. Until that point, she didn't even know that she had lost her wallet.

We gave her the address of the Sherlock Investigations office and said that we'd meet her in front of our building with her wallet. She arrived in about thirty minutes, eyed us suspiciously, took the wallet, and climbed back into the waiting cab, never to be heard from again.


Then, just a few days before Christmas, a friend handed me an envelope that she had found near our office with the name "Bob" hand-written on it. Since there were no other markings whatsover on the envelope, I opened it. Inside was a holiday card signed by a woman, and $50.

I went to doormen buildings within a block or so of our office to enquire whether a tenant had reported losing an envelope with a holiday gift. No one had reported losing such an envelope.

Then I entered the woman's name into several data bases that we employ for locating people. I got a lot of hits since the women's name was a common one. One of the women by the same name lived only two blocks from our office. The listing included her phone number. I went over to her building and spoke to the doorman. Indeed, she had reported losing the envelope, which contained a holiday gift for the building's superintendant. The doorman said that she was very upset about losing the envelope and had looked everywhere. I left the envelope with the doorman.

After I got back to the office I called the woman's number and left a message that I had found the envelope and left it with her doorman. Later the woman called me and asked me where I found the envelope. Then she said, "And you OPENED it?" as if I had done something wrong. I explained to her that that was the only way I could've found out who it belonged to since there are a lot of "Bobs" in the neighborhood. She hung up on me.

This proves two things. One, some New Yorkers are honest. Two, some people are suspicious and ungrateful.

Would we do the same thing again? Absolutely.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Results of Free People Locator

In my last post I detailed our new free people locator service. Each month we'll take on one case absolutely free. For December, we took a case that involved searching for a biological father. The results are posted below.

If you'd like to be considered for our January free people locate, please email us the details, including why you're looking for the person. A testimony is not required for us to consider taking the case, but always welcome.
Please see all the details in the previous post.

"I literally spent years searching on my own for a biological father I hadn't seen in roughly 30 years. I used all the resources I could find on the web even spending the money on some of the online people finding services. At every turn I was met with nothing but failure and frustration. After reading the testimonials on Sherlock Investigation's website and seeing their phenomenal success rate, I decided to give them a try. You probably think I'm exaggerating, but in a mere 90 minutes after I emailed Skipp the very limited information I had, he had found my father! Not only that, he also provided me with a current address and phone number, both of which were 100% accurate. I could have never imagined that Skipp and his staff would be able to do such an amazing job so fast. If only they could make the meeting as easy as the finding..."

Friday, December 02, 2005

FREE People Locate Service

Locating people makes up a third of our business at Sherlock Investigations. And we're good at it. I can honestly say that we locate 99% of the people we look for.

The reasons people hire us vary widely. We look for runaway teens, deadbeat dads, old friends or family members, fugitives, and even pets. It's always rewarding to us, as well as the client, when we're successful.

Frankly, some people can't afford our rates, but we have to charge what we charge to stay in business. I know that you can go online and find someone for forty bucks. Sometimes I check out these services to see if they can find me, a pretty public guy. The information they come back with is unbelievable. If I didn't know where I was, I would have a hard time finding myself with these cheap online services!

I've often wished that I could help everyone who needed help, but not being independently wealthy, I can't. But, here's what I can do, and what Sherlock Investigations can do.

Once a month, we'll take a case for free. We'll launch a search for a person, free, with no strings attached. We'll decide who we will help based on humanitarian grounds, the public good, or just because it's an interesting case.

So, if you're looking for someone, email us about it. Include all that you know about the person, including past locations. And, be sure to include the reason that you are looking for this person.

We'll take submissions for this free service by email only. Email Sherlock Investigations at, and write Free Locate in the Subject line.

If we choose your case, we'll let you know right away, and start working on it immediately.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Worldwide Service at Sherlock Investigations

At Sherlock Investigations we have colleagues and reliable contacts in countries around the world. Whether you need an investigation conducted in Hong Kong, Israel, or South Africa, we can do it.

Recently, we set up surveillance on a target in Tanzania. This took quite a bit of effort as a private investigator was prepared to fly up from South Africa for the assignment. At the last minute (and before we received a retainer), the client pulled out.

Some countries, such as China, prohibit private investigation. That doesn't stop private eyes in China though, they just call themselves "consultants." Other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, don't allow surveillance. Still, there are private eyes there willing to take a chance and do it. However, their fees are very high.

In most countries out of the U.S., investigation fees are high. If you need service outside of the United States, expect to pay quite a bit more than you would for the same investigation here.

Whether you need to locate someone in a foreign country, need surveillance, or want to background someone or a company, Sherlock Investigations is at your service.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Get a FREE Spy Camera Detector

In recent years, video cameras have gotten so small that they're nearly impossible to find. With tiny pinhole lenses, they're hidden in clock radios, smoke detectors, paintings, plants, and other places that you would not imagine. It's becoming commonplace for perverted individuals to place hidden spy cameras in tanning booths, public restrooms, locker rooms, hotel rooms, and clothing store dressing rooms. Your personal security and privacy is at risk.

In performing "bug sweeps" for our clients we always look for hidden video cameras. If a camera is transmitting to a remote receiver, we have sophisticated equipment that can pick up the signal. However, if a hidden camera is hardwired, or not turned on at the moment we're looking for it, there is no broadcast signal to detect. In the past, this has been problematic.

Our Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) service is much in demand. We provide a thorough physical and electronic search of offices, homes, and vehicles, for hidden mikes, recorders, cameras, and transmitters. Until now, finding hidden spy cameras has been problmatic due to their size.

Then two engineers invented the SpyFinder hidden camera locator. Originally designed for a government agency, there is now the SpyFinder Personnal. You may have seen this advertised on the Internet for prices ranging up to $199.

I'm very dubious about gadgets and devices I see advertised on the Internet, especially if they're related to personal security. Bug detectors, for example, even if they're good, need practical experience or training to operate effectively.

At Sherlock Investigations we have our own assortment of pinhole and spy cameras. Some are hardwired, and some transmit a video signal. One is cleverly hidden in a clock radio, and is virtually undectable to the eye.

So, after reading about the technology on how the SpyFinder works, I ordered one. The technology is simple, yet ingenious. After the SpyFinder arrived, I tested it out in a variety of situations. It worked perfectly! And, it was simple to use. I now use it with confidence on all our TSCM jobs. I believe that anyone, following the instructions that come with the SpyFinder, can find hidden spy cams.

I was so excited about this that I wanted to make a special offer to our clients and readers of this blog. Through a special arrangement with the manufacturer, we are offering the SpyFinder Personal for $149.95, plus $5 for shipping and handling. (NY residents should add $12.93, or a total of $167.08, which includes S&H). Batteries are included.

"But," as they say on TV, "wait, there's more!" I believe so much in the SpyFinder's ability to find hidden cameras, that I want to make a very special offer. Order a SpyFinder hidden camera detector from Sherlock Investigations for $149.95, and have the chance to get your money back and keep the SpyFinder!

If you use the SpyFinder while visiting public restrooms, tanning booths, dressing rooms, locker rooms, hotel rooms, or anywhere else that hidden cameras are often found, and you detect a hidden camera, you're eligible for a complete refund from Sherlock Investigations.

What do you do if you find a hidden spy camera in a public place? Don't go to the manager, go to the local newspaper, TV station, or even the police. Expose the pervert who placed the camera! If you go to the manager, he might assure you that he'll take care of it. But he may have placed it there!

If you send us a police report, newspaper article or other news story telling about the hidden spy camera you located, we'll refund 100% of your money, including postage. That's all you need to do. Of course, keep the SpyFinder, because you'll want to continue to assure your personal privacy.

Contact us at:, or call us at 888-354-2174, or in New York City, 212-579-4302. You may pay for your SpyFinder by credit card, check, or money order.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Diamond's Aren't Forever

A distressed woman named Diane called me from Boston. She told me that she had recently inherited $20,000 worth of diamond jewelry from her late mother. Diane came home from work one day and found that the jewelry had disappeared, and so had her live-in boyfriend, Bernie.

After several phone calls, she learned that Bernie ran off with a woman named Alice. Diane called the Boston Police Department, which had her come in to fill out the requisite forms. Her case was assigned to a detective. After three months, the only break in the case was that some of the jewelry had shown up in Boston-area pawnshops. Still, the Boston PD had no lead as to the whereabouts of Bernie.

Frustrated, she sought outside help and found our investigative agency on the Internet. I took all the details over the phone and commenced the investigation.

Employing every technique in the book, I searched and searched for Bernie. I ran database searches, left messages with his friends and relatives, and even talked to his estranged mother in Miami. No one seemed to have any idea where Bernie was, and his own mother didn't even want to know.

While giving my client a telephone update it occurred to me that I didn't have a photo of Bernie. Missing persons photos do two things. Hanging on the wall over your desk they're a constant reminder of the task at hand. Then, there's an outside chance that you will see the person on the bus or in the drug store.

So Diane mailed me a photograph of Bernie, but warned me that it was eight or nine years old. He looked older now, she said.

Three months passed, and I hadn't gotten a single lead as to Bernie's location. He and Alice had disappeared without a clue. However, "give up" is not part of my vocabulary. Somehow I knew that I would find Bernie.

Meanwhile, I worked on my heavy caseload. One case involved surveillance in New York's Diamond District on 47th Street. One midmorning I took the #5 bus down Fifth Avenue and got off at 50th Street and walked south toward 47th Street.

Between 48th and 47th Streets I noticed a casually dressed couple sitting on the sidewalk with their backs against a building. A stack of battered luggage sat next to them. A small hand-written sign placed on the sidewalk read "HOMELESS." Next to it was an empty Starbucks cup with a greenback sticking out.

It occurred to me that the man resembled Bernie. "No," I said to myself, "I've been working too hard, it couldn't be Bernie from Boston." I walked on by, but the image of the two sitting there bothered me. I turned around and walked back to the couple and added a dollar to the cup.

"Thank you," the man said. The woman also said "Thank you."

"What's your name?" I asked the man.


"I'm Alice," the woman said.

As the adrenaline hit me, I mumbled, "Good luck," and stepped around the corner and called 911 on my cell phone. I explained that I was a private investigator and related some details of the case. A police car would arrive shortly, I was told.

I called Diane and gave her the exciting news. She was as ecstatic as I.

The cops arrived in ten minutes. After I identified myself and repeated the basic details the officers went over to the couple and asked the squatting man for identification. He claimed not to have any, but acknowledged that he was Bernie so-and-so, my target, as we say in the business.

They asked Bernie to stand, and then slapped cuffs on him. With an officer in the back seat with Bernie, and me and another officer in the front, we drove to the Midtown North precinct where they put Bernie in a lockup.

Detectives from the NYPD called the Boston PD and told them that they had Bernie in the lockup, and gave them 24 hours to come and get him.

To my astonishment, the Boston PD told the NYPD that they might as well let Bernie go, as they wouldn't come and get him. His crime didn't warrant a trip to New York City.

Bernie and I walked out of Midtown North together, parting ways when we hit the sidewalk. Then I dialed Diane on my cell phone to explain what had happened.

The next day I saw Bernie and Alice sitting on the sidewalk with an empty Starbucks cup. I guess diamonds aren't forever.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Net Detective

If Net Detective was worth $39.95, Sherlock Investigations would not be in business. Fortunately, people buy it, try all the free public record searches listed on it, and then call us.

Sherlock Investigations started before public access to the Internet was, at the most, minimal, and little used. Probably because no one knew how to use it, and there wasn't that much available in the early days of the Internet. As the power of the Internet grew, especially with access to databases and search engines, I wondered if we'd be able to stay in business. After all, we were private investigators, trained to dig up the facts, and the dirt, on anyone. What if anyone could do this and didn't need us?

Not to worry, I soon learned. Very few people actually know how to dig deep on the Internet. The lazy and gullible buy things like Net Detective, to learn about their neighbors, those they date, and to see what the FBI has on them (as if they're important enough to have an FBI file). And, you'll never find everything you're looking for on the Internet. Old-fashioned detective work is still necessary. So, the serious ones end up calling us.

I confess, I actually bought Net Detective once. After examining what it had to offer I really felt foolish. I applied for, and got, my money back.

One ad I saw for Net Detective (and there are many of them), claimed to be the original one. Maybe that's like the Original Ray's Pizza in New York City. All the Ray's Pizzas claim to be the original.

I think one can be a distributor of Net Detective. Maybe it's multi-level marketing like Amway. I haven't bothered to look into it. Anyway, the original Net Detective claims to be endorsed by the National Association of Independent Private Investigators. Who the hell are they?

It's my guess, but, again, I haven't taken the time to investigate it, that it could very well be a group started by Net Detective to endorse themselves. Sherlock Investigations belongs to some of the leading PI organizations in the world, and I've never heard of the National Association of Independent Private Investigators. Furthermore, none of the groups Sherlock Investigations belongs to endorse Net Detective.

Sherlock Investigations is associated with more than 2,500 private investigators worldwide. As far as I know, none of these men and women belong to the National Association of Independent Private Investigators.

So, if all you want to spend is $39.95 to investigate someone, go ahead and order Net Detective. Heck, I'll give you some free advice, worth much more than $39.95. Start your investigation with Google. Look at Google on the web, then Groups, Images, News, and then go to Here you'll find tens-of-thousands of free public records databases.

If you still can't find what you're looking for, email or call us at Sherlock Investigations. We'll be your detective on the Net.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Finding Osama Bin Laden

The reason Sherlock Investigations hasn't located Osama Bin Laden is that we haven't been hired to find him. Could we if we were hired to? Probably not.

The point is, given enough time and money, anyone can be located. If you hire us to find someone, you'll pay a flat rate of at least $395. Of course, if you just want a list of 500 names and addresses you could find a company on the Intenet to do it for fifty bucks.

You want a confirmed address, not just a list of names. Sometimes we can do this for you with a database search, but the addresses are often outdated. You don't want that. So, we do a lot of grunt work to find someone. That doesn't necessarily mean that we leave the office. No, we often let our fingers do the walking, as they say. We call people. Sometimes a lot of people.

I've said this before, but there's always someone who knows where the person is that you are looking for, and usually more than one person knows their whereabouts. The trick is finding that one person who knows where the target is.

When we have to, we go out on the street for you. We do what we have to do. We've located homeless people under bridges and on the street, people hiding out in the woods, and people hiding from the law. Sometimes it's not so complicated. You may have just lost touch with someone. We can find them for you.

Our staff works for you. We take every case personally. We want you to be happy with the results. Making you happy, makes us happy.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Second Guessing Us

Any ideas, suggestions, or other help we can get from our clients are always appreciated. We like to work in tandem with our clients. Oftentimes, a client holds back information, intentionally or unintentionally. Sometimes they don't know that information that they have could be very important in solving the case. It's better to have too much information than not enough. It's better to let the professional investigator decide what's not important.

At times, a client will criticize us for the way we approach a case. Confidentialality is very important to us. Going head-strong into a case will often blow it, making any ongoing efforts futile. At Sherlock Investigations, we've had many years of experience in all sorts of investigations, and know how to start and complete an investigation.

Usually, time is not critical, so it's better to let us go about solving a case methodically rather than rushing in haphazardly and messing everything up. Sometimes we get cases that were handled by another investigative agency that so botched-up everything that we have a difficult time developing the case any further.

In rush cases, we may charge more, because we have to put aside other cases we're working on to give all of our attention to the rush case. While we're not perfect, our goal is to please our clients. This is what we strive for.

Remember, what you see on TV isn't real. Most cases are not solved in the manner depicted, or in 22 to 44 minutes.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Nigerians can scam YOU

A person I know recently received a Nigerian email promising a lot of money just for cashing some money orders. A bright person, she wrote back (the first mistake) that she knew all about the Nigerian scams, so don't waste her time.

The person wrote back to her insisting that his offer was legitimate, that he wasn't like the scammers you read about. He offered to prove it, and she bit (her second mistake).

He said that he needed to process a million dollars a year in United States Postal Service Money Orders, but he couldn't do it through his bank. He needed assistance in the U.S. To prove it, he said he'd mail her some money orders for her to cash, and then wire some money back through Western Union to a person he'd designate.

A few days later she received in her mail box six U.S. Postal Service Money Orders for $1000 each. He instructed her to cash them, send $5000 back to him, and keep $1000.

She took the money orders to her bank (her third mistake) where she had a checking account. The assistant manager inspected them, and gave her $6000 cash. Then she went to Western Union and sent $5000 to a person in London.

All was well for two weeks. Then the bank called to tell her that the money orders were counterfeit (and very good counterfeits at that), and that they had taken $6000 from her checking account.

Now the scammer is apologizing for getting her into trouble, and promises to make up for it. I can hardly wait to hear the next chapter in his elaborate scam. I just hope that she doesn't dig her hole deeper.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

eBay buying tips

At Sherlock Investigations we spend a lot of time buying things on eBay. The stuff we buy on eBay is counterfeit merchandise, and most of it comes from China. Our clients want to know who is selling this stuff so that they can shut them down for trade mark infringement. American companies lose billions of dollars a year because of counterfeit merchandise.

As frequent buyers on eBay, who then track down the real identities of the sellers, we know how hard it is to find out who you're really dealing with. We also get clients who send a lot of money to strangers for everything from Rolex watches to Harley Davidson motorcylces, never to receive their merchandise.

One guy thought that he was getting a terrific bargain on eBay when he saw a $10K Rolex watch listed for $1900. I hate to say it, because it's so old and tired, but still true: If it looks too good to be true... Lucky for him, we identified and found the seller.

In another case concerning a Harley, we got our client's $7500 back for a non-existent motorcycle he bought, but only after we had the seller arrested and jailed.

Here's my number one rule for buying on eBay: Never pay more for anything on eBay than you can afford to lose.

If you'd like to know more about counterfeit merchandise, visit the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition web site at

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Click Fraud

One of the most effective ways of advertising is to buy advertising on Google, Yahoo, or other search engines. We feel that Google is the most efficient as it has the most reach.

How this works is, say, you purchased a Harley on eBay. You sent the seller the money via Western Union, but you never received your motorcycle. Then, after going to eBay and not getting the results you want, you seek professional help. So, you Google "ebay fraud" and a little block ad comes up for Sherlock Investigations. You click on it and come to our web site. Perhaps, this is how you got to read this.

Every time someone clicks on our ad we pay Google a fee. The fee can range from ten cents to $6, depending upon a number of factors.

Click fraud is when a competitor keeps clicking on an ad, hoping to rack up a huge bill for it's competition, thus discouraging him from advertising. This is both unethical, and unwise.

While Google has safeguards in place to watch out for click fraud, sometimes abusers slip by. We also watch for click fraud while monitoring our web statistics daily. We can tell how someone found our site, what they looked at, and how long they stayed. We can also read everyone's IP address so that we know almost who they are. I say "almost," because individual identities or computers are not revealed. But it's close.

I said all that to say this. Yesterday, an individual using an AOL account, clicked on our ad 27 times. Google will reimburse us for the misuse of this system, and is launching an investigation as to who this particular person, or company, is.

I believe in karma. You reap what you sow. What goes around comes around. Sometimes it takes longer than you wish, but it eventually works.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Employment at Sherlock Investigations

Because Sherlock Investigations receives so many inquiries about working here, I posted a special section on our web site dealing only with jobs. I don't think it made the impression that I had hoped for, as we still get applications from people who have no specific skills.

First of all, if you really don't know a lot about private investigations, I strongly recommend that you go to and order former FBI agent Steven Kerry Brown's excellent book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Private Investigation. (Mr. Brown should give us a commission for all the people we send his way.)

The people we hire have unique specialties. For example, one member of our surveillance team is a professional photographer and filmmaker. We can always count on him getting the money shot. (His identity will remain anonymous.)

Another investigator, Ruby Moore, specializes in locating people. She got into this almost by accident over a family matter. Soon, she was locating people for family and friends. When Ruby came to Sherlock Investigations, she was a seasoned veteran.

Rian Mitchell has played with computers since he was a kid. He's an Internet and email pioneer. He know computers and communications inside and out. Rian can trace email, hunt down fraudulent sellers on eBay, locate cyberstalkers, and provide electronic security. And, as they say on TV, "But wait, there's more...!" (For another time.)

Other members of our staff have the ability to convince people to tell them things. There is always someone who knows the information a client seeks. The trick is finding that person, and then getting them to tell.

Librarians and researchers have become excellent private investigators. Being able to track down information, whether on a business or a person, is invaluable in this business.

Many private investigators are ex-police officers, but the only area that we use ex-police officers in is surveillance. This is because we can handle the few criminal cases we have, even though ex-detectives are good at this. And, ex-cops lose much of their power when they leave the job...they surrender their badge and gun. As private investigators, we can't knock on a door and flash a badge through the peep hole. Ex-cops, though, have a lot of street smarts and often excel in surveillance jobs.

Our investigators come with specific skills from different fields other than law enforcement. When they came to us, they convinced us that they could do the job by showing us what they could do.

Now, one thing you can do if you want to get into this business is to see how much information you can get on yourself. Go on the Internet, to the phone company, the utility company, your high school and college. The more hard-to-find information you can get, the better. (Of course, you already know this information. The trick is to get other people to tell you the information as if you don't know it.) Then, with their permission, do the same thing on a friend.

The bottom line is, if you want to get into private investigations, hone a specific skill. Be a specialist and not a generalist.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Your comments please...

Until now, readers have not been able to comment on this blog. As of today, that's changed. So, feel free to comment, offer suggestions, or tell us how we can be of better service to you.

It's often a team effort when we work with our clients on a tough case. This blog can be a team effort, too.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Comprehensive Background Checks

A general background check can be performed in two minutes and cost as little as fifty bucks. With that you could get a person's date of birth, Social Security Number (At Sherlock Investigations, we only give out a person's SSN on a need-to-know basis.), address history, relatives, associates and neighbors.

Locating a person's place of employment costs quite a bit more, because of what we have to do to get that information. (Sometimes we have to follow a person to work.) Also, marriage and divorce records cost more. In New York, for example, they're virtually unobtainable. In Massachusetts they're public record in the County Courthouse.

When the FBI conducts a background check on a job applicant, it'll take up to eight months, and cost the government thousands of dollars. Sometimes our clients want this type of background investigation for $500!

At the very minimum, a background check should verify that the person is who they say they are. Of course, it can, and often should, offer much, much more.

Criminal background investigations can be obtained cheaply on the Internet, but they're often worthless. (There is no such thing as a National Criminal Check.) To do a thorough criminal investigation you need to first have positive identifiers on the person. In other words, you need to know who the person really is.

Then you need their address history. The reason for this is that criminal background investigations are carried out on at least 3 levels. We check federal, state, and county records. A person who did a few months in county jails in 4 different states likely will not show up on any Internet searches. One often has to go physically to the county court house in every county where the person has lived.

Criminal background checks should also include a Sex Offender Status check. Then, there's bankruptcies, liens, and judgments, plus civil suits, and even newspaper articles search. Suppose the person that your checking is an alleged crime boss, but has never been convicted. Court checks wouldn't reveal this, but newspaper articles might.

In a pre-employment background check, it's more cost effective to have a resume' or job application to start with. Then, the easiest thing to do is to verify everything the applicant has claimed. This includes the person's real name, address, address history, education, employment history, and references.

One thing we watch out for here is a continuity of dates. Say the person claims to have work on a certain job from January 1995 through March of 2003. The next job listed started on November 2003. There's an 8-month gap there. What was that person doing during those 8 months, unemployed....or in jail?

The hardest kind of background check to do is when you start with a minimal amount of information, such as the person's alleged name. These can be done, but takes much more time and effort. It really depends upon what kind of information the client wants on the target (the person being investigated).

Another thing to watch out for is references. These could be references from previous jobs, or personal references. A good thorough background check also checks out the background of the references, to be sure that they are who the applicant claims they are, and not their brother-in-law or great-aunt.

At Sherlock Investigations we often get cases where the client wants dirt on the target. This can be expensive, and may even require long-term surveillance.

In other cases, we deal with families, usually from India, Pakistan, or the Mid-East, who are arranging marriages for someone in the family. In these cases, we usually have to check out the habits, associates, life-style, and income of the prospective groom (the groom is usually in New York). Again, surveillance is often required in these cases.

Another kind of case we deal with is background investigations of cult leaders. These cults may be religious, political, or economic cults. (I won't take the time to explain the difference here, but see our Dangerous Groups Investigations page on our website for more information, or visit )

To be really effective, these investigations can take a lot of time and money, as they often involve going undercover into one of these groups. A lot of information can be obtained without this drastic step, but going undercover is often the most effective way of getting the dirt on these manipulators.

In a nutshell, it's possible to find out just about anything on anybody. It's really a matter of time and money. Remember, you get what you pay for.

Friday, October 28, 2005

You should write a book!

"You should write a book" is a refrain that I hear often. There's no question about it, there's plenty of material in the Sherlock Case Files for a book. Who knows, maybe someday I will write a book based upon our cases. The problem is, though, I couldn't name names.

We have as clients people in entertainment, the fashion industry, elected officials, non-elected people in high government posts, and just ordinary folks whose lives are very private.

There are too many private investigators who leak items to the media in order to get the resulting publicity. Positive publicity is good for a company like Sherlock Investigations, but not if we have to betray our client's confidence to get it.

In some of our Internet ads we say, "Confidential and personal." We mean just that, and try to give each and every client the personal attention that they need. Beyond that, we keep our mouths shut.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Contact Loved Ones

After hurricane Katrina I wished that I could come up with a way to help people contact loved ones. After all, Sherlock Investigations does a lot of that, but not in the context of a national disaster. I did have some success in locating some distant relatives from New Orleans, but overall, I wanted more.

Well, a guy on Long Island, New York, Dan Schoeffler, has ingenuously done what I wanted to do. His web site is Take a look by clicking on this link:

Dan shares some amazing success stories and even tells us that people can find lost pets through the site.

Good going Dan!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Paris Hilton's Cell Phone

A few months ago someone hacked into Paris Hilton's cell phone and got her personal phone book listings and all her friends' phone numbers. If Paris Hilton had been under the care of Sherlock Investigations we could have protected her against this electronic assault.

One of the things we do here at Sherlock Investigations is to protect corporations and individuals against electronic threats, whether on their individual computers, networks, cell phones or landlines. We've found that almost every company is vulernable, and so much more so with individuals. Our research has discovered ways to detect and prevent unwanted eavesdropping.

And remember, never say anything on a phone, or write in an email, that you don't want others to know about.
For more about this story, click on link below: content/article/2005/09/13/AR2005091301423.html

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Internet Fraud and You

The Internet is truly a great advance in global communications. It's made the world a smaller place. With it, we meet people, conduct business, and purchase everything from homes to groceries.

The Internet has also exposed us to virtual criminals. Criminals all over the world use the Internet to separate people from their money. Whether they sell non-existent items on eBay, or non-existent stocks, candy machines, unclaimed funds in hidden bank accounts, or counterfeit merchandise, they have just about perfected their many scams.

At Sherlock Investigations, we endeavor to keep ahead of these criminals. Unfortunately, our clients usually come to us after they've been ripped off.

In solving cases of Internet fraud, we can trace email, determine who really owns a web site, or find the location of a seller of an item on eBay. Just like Sherlock, we look for clues that the ordinary person just simply doesn't see. Then when add two and two together, and zero in on the culprit.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Psychic Detectives

I'll admit that I only saw Court TV's Psychic Detectives only once. But, once was enough. It's my personal feeling that the cases are totally fake, well, maybe laced with a bit of truth.

In the Psychic Detectives program I saw, a psychic located the body of a victim who apparently wandered off in a snowstorm and froze to death in the woods. After a lot of drama, out of focus video shots, and questionable interviews, the psychic sat down and drew a map indicating where the body lay.

For all I know, the psychic drew the map AFTER the body was located. I know how some of these shows are fabricated, and I think this one was fabricated.

It's not that I don't believe in psychic powers, but I think most psychics are phonies, including most psychic detectives.

When Sherlock Investigations tries to locate a person, we don't employ psychic powers. However, they may come into play, I don't know. We always try to get a photo of the person that we're looking for and post it on our bulletin board. If nothing else, it keeps the hunt in mind. As they say, "out of sight, out of mind." Perhaps, though, by mentally focusing on the image something else comes into play.

In any case, we locate 98% of the people we're hired to find, and I'm really not sure how we do it.
See link below for more on this topic:

Sunday, October 23, 2005

NY Private Investigators

NY Private Investigators, New York Private Investigators, Private Investigators New York, Private Investigators NY

No doubt, you're wondering what is all this gibberish. Well, I recently extolled Google on this blog. Generally, Sherlock Investigations is very pleased with Google. However, once in a while there's what I call a Google Earthquake, where they really shake up the search rankings. I think it's done to force companies into buying Google Adwords, which can be pretty expensive, and is, by the way, how Google makes its billions.

Last week there was a Google Earthquake. Sherlock Investigations has always been on page one of a Google search for New York Private Investigators, except when there's a Google Earthquake. The above is a test, which I won't go into.

Meanwhile, thank you for visting our site, and I hope to write something more interesting shortly.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Why Sherlock Investigations isn't on TV

Yesterday we received invitations from two television production companies to participate in television shows about private eyes. One was for Court TV and the other for a new show on NBC.

I thanked them both for their interest in Sherlock Investigations, but told them that we weren't interested.

Last summer we did a pilot for another production company. They showed it to Court TV and a couple of other networks. So far, no go. This is fine with me.

There are three basic reasons I turn down these offers. First, we're private investigators, not actors. Second, our office is busy. Lights, cameras, and extra people lurking around really gets in the way. And third, we employ investigative secrets and tactics for completing investigations. We don't want to broadcast them to the world, and our competition.

Would the folks at Coca Cola let the cameras in when brewing their closely-guarded formula? I don't think so.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Fortune Teller's Web

One day a young woman called Sherlock Investigations from a payphone in Penn Station, where she had been sleeping for the past two nights. Before that, she was sleeping in Kennedy Airport.

The destitute woman proceeded to tell me a horror story. Wanting to hear the story in person, I agreed to meet her at a bar in Times Square.

This is the short version of the story she told me:

A recent graduate of a four-year college in Florida, with a degree in architecture, she landed a job in New York. Walking around New York on her first weekend here, she spotted a sign that said, "Fortunes, only $10."

Naturally, a new college grad, with a new job, and just starting out on her career, she wondered what the future had in store for her.

Something the fortune teller told her struck home. (Gypsy fortune tellers, experts in human psychology, know how to say something that will strike a chord.) She wanted to know more. The fortune teller said that she could tell her much more, for $100.

The young woman went for it, and by now she was hooked, but didn't know it. The next day she went back for another reading.

The fortune teller told her that she was too materialistic, and that she had to cleanse herself of the evil of money. Gradually, the fortune teller began to help her with this, by taking her money.

She employed many fortune teller tricks. One was the famous trick of asking the client to purchase an egg at a market and bring it in. Using slight-of-hand, the gypsy switched the egg with a specially prepared egg with a small snake in it. Upon cracking the egg, the snake crawled out. This would amaze anyone who didn't realize what was going on.

The gypsy slowly led the young woman into her web of deceit. Pretty soon, she was afraid to make a move without consulting the fortune teller. One day, the gypsy told her to go out and buy her a Rolex watch. The young woman did, and turned it over to the gypsy.

This went on for a year. Soon, she was unable to pay her rent, even though she had a good job. The fortune teller was taking all her money.

The wintry night that I met her she was dressed in a thin jacket against the cold. Most of her possessions were put in storage by her landlord because she couldn't pay her rent.

On successive nights, I spent hours with this woman, almost convinced that I could not break her of the "spell" of the gypsy. However, the woman knew the truth, and that she had been had. Finally, she got angry, and went to the police and filed a criminal complaint.

Then we went out looking for the fortune teller. She apparently moved to Florida before we could locate her. We still look sometimes, but she knows that she's wanted.

Today, the young woman is back on her feet, successful at her job, and well-adjusted.

Now when I look at the expensive store-fronts with neon signs these fortune tellers have all over the city, I know where they get their money. There are a lot of suckers out there, ready to be relieved of their money.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Is Sherlock Charitable?

For a number of years I worked for non-profit organizations. The last one investigated really far-right organizations. While I found this extremely rewarding, the fundraising part wasn't. We never charged for our services, but relied on member's dues and contributions to sustain the organization.

When I left the non-profit world and started Sherlock Investigations, I intended it to be a pay-as-you-go company. In other words, to charge people a reasonable fee for a valuable service.

It's sad when people take advantage of us. We often try to help in heart-rending family situations where an investigation would help a needy client. It may be a missing family member, or locating someone who stole money or assets which practically put the client into bankruptcy.

As some clients neglect their bills, we are less inclined to be charitable. (One client strongly objected when I used the word "charitable." She said that she didn't want our charity, but she still hasn't paid our bill, which was half of what we normally charge for locating an absent parent.)

We also normally get paid in advance. One exception we made was to lawyers. Big mistake. Lawyers, unless they're working on a contingency basis (which we do not), get paid in advance. From now on, we will charge lawyers full payment in advance.

Sherlock Investigations will continue to be nice, and, yes, charitable, but it will be the exception and not the rule.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Vinnie Parco

A woman asked me the other day if I liked the private eye show on Court TV, Vinnie Parco. I told her that I'd never seen at, as I don't watch TV.

She said, "Oh, I don't watch TV either, but I like Vinnie Parco." That's an oxymoron if I've ever heard one.

Some of our staff watch Vinnie Parco, and seem to enjoy it. I did read a review of the show the New York Post. Their headline read "Magnum P.U." It wasn't a rave review. To read it, click on link below:

There's a lot of business out there for private investigators, who, when you get right down to it, are in the business of helping people with their problems. So, there's room for Vinnie Parco, Sherlock Investigations, and many others.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Skipp Porteous: Google is Best Search Engine

The Sherlock Investigations web site has been online for over 10 years. The Internet is the only place we advertise, and by doing so, we have clients from all over the world.

In order to stay current, I closely monitor our web stats daily. Every day I know how many visits there are from the previous day. Our stats even show us how many people visit each page of the Sherlock Investigations web site.

I also know exactly what search terms and search engines people use that cause them to end up at our site. I find it interesting that Google brings us more than twice the visitors of all the other search engines combined, including Yahoo, MSN, and AOL.

One reason for this I think is that Google searches now include blogs (web logs), such as this one. In fact, the things I write about in this blog are picked up by Google within a day of posting.

With this inclusiveness, Google, so far, is staying way ahead of the pack. As a general search engine, Google is by far the best.

Skipp Porteous

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Homeless Woman Located Under Bridge

This true story takes us from Jerusalem to a bridge in the Southwest.

One day we received a call at Sherlock Investigations from Jerusalem. An Israeli woman said that her daughter had gone to the United States two years earlier, and she had not heard from her in over a year. The last time that she had heard from her she was staying in Massachusetts with friends.

The woman had contact information for a couple of her daughter's friends. We called them. One of them said that about year earlier he got email from the woman that said that she was going to Arizona to consult with an astrologer.

For the next two weeks, we called every astrolger we could locate in Arizona. Finally, we hit pay dirt. A woman in Tucson remembered our target. She remembered her for several reasons. First, she fit the physical description. Second, she had an Israeli accent. And third, our target had a obsessive compulsive disorder that caused her to frequently wash her hands... and before sitting down with the astrologer, our target made the astrologer wash her hands. She apparently had other mental problems which caused her to lose touch with her family and friends.

The astrolger told us that she thought our target was still in the area. We relayed this to our client in Jerusalem and she immediately flew to New York.

One of our female investigators went to Arizona with our client. After checking into a Tucson hotel and renting a car, they set out armed with photos of the target. Their first stop was a college campus library, because we thought she might be using the reference books there because we knew that she had an interest in certain subjects.

Sure enough, several people in the library recognized the photos. One of them mentioned a market that she had seen her shopping in. They went there, and a clerk remembered her from several visits. He said that she was homeless, and thought she lived under a bridge.

By that time, it was dark, and they were afraid to go under a local bridge where homeless people lived. However, they learned about a group that fed sandwiches out of a van to homeless people.

The next night, the two found and staked-out the van. In less than an hour, our client's daughter showed up. They followed her from there to an Internet cafe. Our investigator followed her in and approached her. She said, "Your mother loves you very much. She's outside if you'd like to see her."

The daughter started crying, as did our investigator. Shortly, the mother and daughter were reunited. Today, she is getting the support and help she needs.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Thief caught in New York's Diamond District

One of our most incredible cases involved a diamond thief in New York's Diamond District. A woman called Sherlock Investigations from Boston and told us that she had inheirited $20,000 worth of diamond jewelry from her mother.

This is her story: She came home one day and her diamonds were gone. So was Stanley, her live-in boyfriend. Asking around, she learned that Stanley ran off with a woman named Janice. She called the Boston Police Department and filed a complaint.

After three months, the Boston PD had not located Stanley. However, the jewelry began showing up in Boston-area pawn shops.

Then she called Sherlock Investigations and we began the hunt. Using every trick in the trade (and we have a lot of them), we, too, were unable to locate Stanley after three months.

Belatedly, we asked our client for a photo of Stanley. She sent us one that was 7 or 8 years old. Meanwhile, I had a surveillance job on New York's 47th Street, the Diamond District.

I took the Number 5 bus down to 5th Avenue and 50th Street. I got off and headed south to 47th Street. Between 47th and 48th Streets I saw a couple sitting on the sidewalk with their backs up against a building. Next to them was a pile of luggage, and in front of them a sign that read "Homeless." An empty paper coffee cup was on the sidewalk by the little sign.

It struck me that the guy resembled the photo I had memorized of Stanley. "No," I thought, "I've been working too hard and it's getting to me." Still, the guy did resemble Stanley.

So, after walking by, I turned around and dropped a dollar in the cup. Both of them thanked me. I asked him his name. He said, "Stanley." She said, "I'm Janice."

I mumbled "Good luck," or something as the adrenaline began to hit. I walked around the corner and called 911. While waiting for the cops I called the client and told her that I found Stanley. She was, of course, ecstatic.

When the cops arrived, I explained that I was a private investigator and told them about the case. They went over and had the man identify himself. Indeed, he turned out to be the Stanley that I was looking for.

The police slapped cuffs on him and we all drove down to Midtown North together. After they locked Stanley up, they called the Boston PD and told them that they'd hold Stanley for 24 hours, but that they had to come down to get him.

The Boston PD said that it wasn't worth it to them, as Stanley hadn't murdered, maimed, or raped anyone.

So, the NYPD let Stanley go, and he and I walked out of the police station together.
I did my job, but Stanley sort of slipped between the cracks.

The next day, Stanley was seen sitting on the same sidewalk with Janice, and the little cup. I guess he didn't invest the diamonds wisely. Probably bought crack or something with the proceeds.

Skipp Porteous

Friday, October 07, 2005

Domino, "I am a bounty hunter."

Newline Cinema's new movie, Domino, "I am a bounty hunter," premiers nationwide on October 14th. The action film stars Mickey Rourke. To promote the film, Newline is running a contest.

The lucky winner receives a trip for two to the National Institute of Bail Enforcement, worth $1500.

It would cool is one of our blog readers won the contest. You can enter the contest online at Good luck!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Phone taps

Every day we get calls and email from people who think that their phone has been tapped, or that their house or car is bugged. Sometimes they're right.

The other day a woman contacted us because she thought her phone had been recently tapped. If one were to size up the situation without knowing the whole story it was almost amusing. She said during the time her phone was allegedly tapped, she kept hearing a "tap, tap, tap" sound on her phone.

If your phone IS tapped, you won't hear "tap, tap, tap," or any other sound. It's possible that for a few seconds when the phone is being tapped that you'll hear a little static. That's if someone is attaching aligator clips or some other device to your line. And if that's the case, you can physically follow your phone lines through the house and all the way out to the pole and you should be able to locate the device.

Now, if your a person of interest to the FBI, they'll get a court order and tap your phone from the phone company's Central Office. This is completely undetectable. And if you think the FBI, IRS, or Homeland Security is bugging your phone, home, or car, please do not call us. If we were able to find their bugs and point them out to you, we could be charged with obstruction of justice.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition

Sherlock Investigations is a member of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (, a world-wide organization dedicated to combatting counterfeit merchandise. Counterfeit merchandise, commonly known as "knock-offs," costs the owners of intellectual property billions of dollars a year, it robs states of sales tax, endangers lives, and even funds terrorist organizations.

The problem of counterfeit merchandise is rampant. In China there are nearly 400 factories manufacturing fake Nikes. Other factories churn out fake brakes labeled with the trademarks of the world's leading car makers.

In New York, people buy fake Louis Vuitton or Gucci products on the street and walk away with a smile, thinking that they got a great deal. Or they order fake merchandise on the Internet at steep discounts. These people don't realize who they're hurting.

Can you imagine if you designed a new, popular fashion item, and someone stole your design, hired a factory in China to mass produce it, and put you out of business? It's easy to think of large companies like Coach or Chanel and think that they can afford it. Whether they can afford it or not is not the point. It's just plain wrong.

This is why Sherlock Investigations belongs to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition. You, too, can help. If you see knock-offs of famous brands on the street, or brands like Chanel on the Internet, let us know, and we'll take the proper action.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Marguerite Honor located

Last week we posted a notice that we were looking for Marguerite Honor, 70, and her sister, Viola Williams, missing in New Orleans since hurricane Katrina.

We received word that they have shown up alive and well in Baton Rouge, much to the relief of their family and friends.

From time-to-time we will post requests for help. And, by the way, we're still looking for "Alice," or anyone who knows her. Please see her "wanted" posted below.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Randy Cohen, The New York Times Ethicist

If you read today's New York Times Magazine you may have seen the question posed to The Ethicist about the anonymity of sperm donors, and the ethics of trying to find out who they are, which we submitted several months ago.

This case provoked a lot of discussion in our office. While we initially took the case, in the end we returned the client's money. We agreed with Randy Cohen, that we should not take this sort of case, respecting the privacy of the donor.

In similar cases, we pretty much shy away from adoption cases, and take them only if the client agrees that we will get the permission of whomever we are seeking before we give the client any information.

Likewise, when a guy, for example, is looking for an old girlfriend, we don't give the guy the information unless we have the permission of the person we located.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Iraq war hard on families

You might wonder how the title of this article is related to private investigation. In just a minute you'll see. I've read several articles about how hard the Iraq war has been on families. It's easy to imagine, with the low pay, and the long absences from their families, men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer greatly, and their families at home suffer too.

It recently dawned on me about another aspect of this strain on families. At Sherlock Investigations we're getting a steady increase in email and satellite phone contacts from men serving in Iraq and Afganistan. They're concerned about their wives or girlfriends back home. Their concern is that their wives or girlfriends back in the States are having affairs.

In one case, someone stateside was concerned about a soldier having an affair in Iraq with another officer.

While we try to help in these cases, frankly, even when we reduce our rates for Armed Service personnel, most of them cannot afford very much in the way of investigation. Meanwhile, the affair goes on while the soldier's other worry is just to stay alive long enough to get back home and straighten things out.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Be a Private Investigator! Help us.

Throw out your 900 MHz Radio Shack phone!

This morning we performed an electronic sweep on a Lexus. Typically, we look for hidden active and passive GPS trackers, bumper beepers, tape recorders, and microphones and transmitters.

While the vehicle appeared clean, the client brought along her cordless phone and asked if we could check it out. The first thing that we noticed is that it was a 900 MHz phone. These older models should be discarded and replaced by newer models...unless you want your neighbors up to a half-mile away listening to your conversations. Anybody can buy a scanner for this at Radio Shack.

Even here in New York City, we can turn on our scanner and hear cordless phone and baby monitors five blocks away. While this can be amusing, one feels intrusive when doing this.

So, if you have an older, 900 MHz cordless phone, toss it and pick up a 2.4 GHz or 5.8 GHz model. Remember, anything that broadcasts on a radio frequency can be picked up by private parties, but ordinary people don't have the equipment to do this. The general rule to remember is: don't say anything on a phone, any phone, that you don't want a third party to hear.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Digital Surveillance Systems

Sherlock Investigations has expanded its line of electronic surveillance. A few years ago we started by placing nanny cams in homes. Now we install and maintain digital surveillance systems for both retail and commerical clients throughout New York and New England.

We work with our clients to determine their needs, educate them about available technology and design a system that meets their requirements. It's amazing what digital surveillance systems can do. For example, with the high price of gasoline, a lot of people are driving off without paying. But guess what, with our infrared digital surveillance system, we capture the license plates of every vehicle coming or going where we have the system installed.

To learn more about what our digital surveillance system can do for you, please click on the Sherlock Investigations link to our home page, and then click on Surveillance.

Our own Michael Jackson

Earlier this week we read an article about the owner of a charter jet being arrested because he bugged the plane before Michael Jackson and his lawyer boarded. The plane's owner purchased the audio and video eavesdropping devices at a spy shop. Apparently, he tried to sell the taped conversations to the media.

The story reminded me of our own Michael Jackson, of, where we purchase a lot of our electronic equipment. I've known Michael, a Brit, for several years. He's alsways helpful and honest. In fact, if you're looking for any illegal equipment, don't go to Michael Jackson. (By the way, he has no idea that I'm writing this...and he isn't connected in any way to Sherlock Investigations...we just like him.)

Earlier this year we had contemplated opening a spy shop in Manhattan's Upper West Side. Michael Jackson was going to help get us started by supplying electronic equipment. Eventually, we decided against it because we didn't want to get into the retail business, which we really know little about.

So, if you're looking for specialty electronic equipment of the spy shop nature, we highly recommend

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Don't be an idiot

Would you invest $100,000 in an investment firm that you found on the Internet? "Of course not!" you say, "Do you think I'm an idiot?"

Well, we would never call our clients names or make disparaging remarks about them, after all, we're all human. However, we've had a number of clients who did this very thing.

Usually, they'll invest a couple of thousand with some legitimate-looking online investment site. (Remember, for a few bucks anyone can have a web-site professionally designed that will look as real as Charles Schwab.) In a couple of months the company might send them four thousand. What a return!

Now that they've taken the bait, they'll invest $100,000, hoping to make a quarter-million. By the time they contact the company and ask for their earnings, the con artists are long gone.

Believe it or not, this happens all the time. We've been successful in tracking down these con artists and turning the case over to the FBI, but usually the money is long gone.

So, before you do such a foolish thing, AT LEAST Google the name of the company. In several cases, had our client done that they would have found all sorts of adverse reports about the firm that they wanted to give their money too.

Monday, September 26, 2005

You, too, can be a private eye

After hurricane Katrina we posted a request on this blog seeking the whereabouts of distant family members of the Porteous in New Orleans. Originally, we were looking for one person because we had a trip planned to New Orleans. Katrina quashed that.

Meanwhile, someone called and gave us the cell phone number of one person that we were looking for. A friend of the other one saw the blog and called her friend, who just called us.

As thousands of people read the Sherlock's Case Files blog, we plan to use it whenever we're looking for someone, and we have our client's permission to post the information.

Our first case is a follow-up on New Orleans. Sadly, there are many people still missing. It may be that they just haven't been able to communicate with family or loved ones, for various reasons. It's also possible that they didn't survive.

Now we're looking for a Marguerite Honor, the Porteous family housekeeper. She was employed 4 days per week by William A. Porteous III in New Orleans for over 33 years, and is missing following the hurricane. She did not evacuate prior to the storm.

Ms. Honor, a 74 year-old black woman, lived with her sister Viola Williams, 70, at the Mater Dolorosa Apts. at 1226 Sout Carrolton AVe, #213, in New Orleans.

The building is owned by the Archdiocese of New Orleans, and was supervised by a Father John Hinton, associated with the Mater Dolorosa Church next door. He evacuated just after the hurricane. His whereabouts are unknown.

Viola Williams, Marguerite's sister, has 3 children, Lisa, Antoinette, and James.

We believe that Marguerite has a daughter named Angela Hargrove, and a grandson named Durrell.

There was a report that Marguerite and Viola were evacuated after the hurricane in a pickup with "Harry's Hardware" painted on the side, and may have gone to Gonzales, Galliano, or La Place, Louisiana, possibly with a man named Richard Seals.

If you know the whereabouts of Margauerite Honor, please call Sherlock Investigations at 888-354-2174.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Most weekends we have at least one surveillance job going down. We just wrapped up a very difficult one during UN Week. All the good hotels in New York were filled with diplomats from 150 countries. The town was swarming with all kinds of black-suited security personnel.

In the hotel where are assignment was there were Secret Service agents guarding doors with loaded shotguns, including the floor where our room was. (When conducting a surveillance at New York hotels, we always require the client to pay for a room for our investigators. With security the way it is in New York, this is a must.)

The targets of our surveillance were very high-profile people, which made the job even more difficult. Initially we placed four investigators at the site. After we established the pattern of the targets, we were able to reduce the investigators to two.

Surveillance is always a combination of skill and luck. We provided the skill, and providence provided the luck.

Employing an infrared digital camcorder, we rounded out the weekend with some fabulous video. Skill and luck.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

No More Links

Until now, we've been very open to linking with other sites. The ones we currently list are related to private investigation in some way, or we feel may be useful to those who browse our site.

In addition, we list organizations that we either support financially, or are members of, such as the New York Rotary. We encourage you, too, to support these fine organizations.

Lately, however, we've been getting many requests from totally unrelated sites, such as online furniture stores and pharmacies. Rather than respond to each one individually, we've decided to turn down all further link requests.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Finding Hidden Cameras

Here's a little secret that I discovered almost by accident. Among our equipment is a "nanny cam." It's simply a working GE clock radio. Inside, and completely undectable to the naked eye, is a hidden camera. The camera transmits to a receiver up to a 100 feet, and can be recorded and/or viewed on a TV monitor.

One day I was experimenting with a Sony digital camcorder that we also have in our equipment closet. The camcorder has a common feature called "Nightshot Plus." When switched on, an infrared beam goes out, and the camera records in black and white. You can use it in total darkness up to a limited distance.

While pointing the camcorder, with Nightshot turned on, at the nanny cam clock radio, I noticed that I could see right through the panel on the front of the clock radio, and very clearly see the hidden camera that is otherwise invisible.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

How to Hide

Every now and then we're asked "How can I start life over and hide?" Well, this is one of the things we consider when looking for people.

Some people that we're trying to locate have simply moved away and the person looking for them lost track of their whereabouts. It's often the case with friends in school.

At other times, a father who owes child support will make some efforts to hide from his ex and authorities by shredding his credit cards, closing his checking account, using cash, and getting a mail box at the UPS Store.

In extreme cases, a fugitive will go to great lengths to hide. Usually, they'll steal someone's identity, including a person's date of birth and Social Security Number.

If someone really doesn't want to be found, ever, here's the secret, which most people are either unwilling, or unable, to do. If you REALLY want to disappear and not ever be found, you must cut off all friends, relatives and associates. NO ONE, not even your best friend, should know where you are. You have to establish a totally new identity and disappear from all past associates.

However, no matter what you do, there are always links to your past which could lead to you. It could be habits, hobbies, interests (such as hunting and fishing), or favorite places. When looking for hard-to-find people we always keep these things in mind.

Monday, September 12, 2005

How to Find Anyone

I'm going to share a little secret with you that I learned a long time ago. For years, I've been looking for people, whether it's someone who skipped town without paying their utility bill, or a deadbeat dad, or a fugitive. Oftentimes it's like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Just picture this: Suppose, instead of one needle in the haystack, there are dozens of needles in the haystack...and they all know the one that you're looking for. So, instead of just one particular needle, all you have to do is find any needle, which will lead you to the one you're looking for.

It's often like that when looking for a person. Every human being on the earth knows others, whether friends, family, or work associates. When you're looking for someone, try to imagine who these other friends, family or associates are. Suddenly, your search becomes easier, because now you're looking for anyone who knows the whereabouts of the person that your looking for.

When the FBI is looking for a fugitive, they go to every person who might be connected in any way to the fugitive. They'll even tap the phones of all these friends and family members, in hopes that the fugitive will call. Then they just trace the call and bingo.

Of course, you and I can't do that, but when searching for someone, always reach out to anyone who might know the whereabouts of the person that you're looking for.

Remember, there's always someone who knows where the person is that you're looking for. Just find that person.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Sherlock's Down the Hall

We just finished moving our office down the hall today, and without many kinks. If you've tried to call and got a busy signal we apologize. It's mostly working, and Verizon will have it straightened out soon. Meanwhile, as President Bush recently said, "You have to be patient."

Well, at least we have phone service, an office, and our homes, unlike many of those folks in New Orleans.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Porteous Family in New Orleans

If any readers know the whereabouts of any members of the Porteous family in New Orleans, I would appreciate a phone call. In particular, we're looking for Judge Thomas Porteous, Bill Porteous, and Elizabeth Porteous. I, Skipp Porteous, can be reached at my office at Sherlock Investigations: 212-579-4302.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina-related Scams

In the aftermath of the greatest national disaster in our lifetime, Americans are responding in all kinds of ways -- most of them very positive. However, just like some in New Orleans are taking advantage of the situation by looting, others are undoubtedly scheming to relieve generous citizens of their hard-earned money.

If you want to make a financial contribution to an aide group, contact them yourself. Don't wait for them to contact you. Many of us with receive phone calls soliciting contributions to aide those affected by hurricaine Katrina. The best way to be sure that the charity is genuine is to call well-known and establised organizations, such as the American Red Cross.

Scams involving investments are also sure to proliferate. If you want to make an investment, contact as established broker. Don't send money to some character who calls you on the phone.

When in doubt, check out any unknown individuals or organizations

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hidden Video Camera

Can you find the hidden video camera in this photo? Hint: Look closely at the door frame to the left of the door.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


We're often contacted by men who are looking for ex-girlfriends, or women they were once attracted to. They'll say something like, "I went to school with her and lost contact after graduation. I'm sure she'll be glad to hear from me."

We take these cases on one condition. After we locate the subject, we tell the potential client, "We'll tell her that you're looking for her. If she gives us permission to give her address to you, then we will. Otherwise, we'll respect her privacy."

This always weeds out stalkers, as we never hear from these would-be clients again. Legitimate clients have no problem with this policy, and understand that we need to do all we can to protect the public from this sort of thing.

Several years ago, we were hired by two different stalkers. Intuitively, in both cases we told the women that so-and-so is looking for you. In these two cases the police were involved and restraining orders had been issued. Now we make it a policy to tell clients in advance about our policy.

Incidentally, in both cases, the client (stalker) gave us stolen credit cards. Now, we have strong measures in place to prevent credit card fraud.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Digital Camera Tips

We haven't purchased any film since we went all digital three years ago. Since that time, digital cameras have come a long way. One annoying problem with digital cameras is the lag time when you push the shutter button, especially on inexpensive digital cameras or cameras more than a year old.

This happens because when you push the shutter button, the camera first has to focus, then it takes the shot. To overcome this problem, aim the camera, and push the button half-way down. Your camera will then focus on the subject. When you get the pose or picture you want, push the button the rest of the way. This is the best way to get a real-time shot.

Another thing to do is to try to anticipate the next move of the subject. I've practiced this technique when photographing bald eagles in flight. In surveillance too, when using a digital camera (versus a camcorder), you have to anticipate the subject's next move. If you wait until a couple's lips touch before you push the shutter button, you'll probably miss the shot. But, if you see them about to kiss, push the button half-way, and then a second before they kiss, push the button all the way down.

People are still enamored with the screens on their digital cameras, and thus often take blurry photos. I often see people holding their camera at arms length, trying to frame the subject in the screen. The monitor is really there to review your shots, not to frame your shot. Reviewing your photos on the screen before you print them can save a lot of mone and/or disk space on your computer.

To really get a good shot, use your optical viewfinder. (I know some new models don't even have an optical viewfinder. Avoid buying these.) This helps you in two ways. One, it's a lot easier to see your subject, in any kind of light. Two, by holding the camera up to your eye, you'll avoid camera shake, as you can take a steady shot as you'll be holding it up to your face, and not at arms length.

Finally, be sure your batteries are fully charged, or that you have extra batteries with you.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Mysterious Buzzing Sound

Some people who contact us about suspected bugged apartments or phones are simply paranoid. In other cases, though, something is really there.

Recently, a woman said that when she went to bed at night she heard a mysterious buzzing sound. It was so strong that her bed seemed to vibrate. When she got up, it stopped. It only happened when she lay down.

Upon investigation, it was noticed that the woman had a platform bed with drawers. In one of the drawers, with an apparent lose wire or faulty switch, was her vibrator. It only went off when she layed on the bed. Case solved.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Governor Bugged

After New York's Governor George Pataki's phone was tapped by an unknown individual he asked for a federal investigation. Embarrassed over the public exposure of his colorful language, and, maybe more so, a discussion about patronage appointments, he wants to nail the person responsible for turning the illegal tapes over to the New York Post.

We're not holding our breath waiting for the Governor to call us for a bug sweep, but we could do it if he asked. We recently did an electronic sweep (in nearby major American city) of a mayor's office, conference room, and personal limousine.

Free Credit Reports

Starting next week (September 1st) a new federal law goes into affect giving every American the right to get a free credit report once a year from the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.

This will help curb identification theft, as you can see if someone is using your I.D. To get your free credit report go to, or call 877-322-8228. To better monitor your credit reports ask for them every four months, i.e., Equifax in January, Experian in May, and Transunion in September.

If you go directly to the credit bureaus, they may try to sell you their credit monitoring serives, which vary from $5 to $10 a month. You have to decide for yourself whether it's worth it or not.

Take note of, because if you Google "free credit report," all kinds of sites will come up that will try to lure you in to spending money, as all you want to really do is take advantage of the new law giving you a free annual credit report from each of the main reporting bureaus.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sherlock's New Office

Summer's almost over and each member of the staff at Sherlock Investigations has had a little break. While things normally slow down in the summer, this summer has been straight out serving our many clients.

Sherlock Investigations moved to new offices at the beginning of the year. Now, it's time to move again. Our building's management office is creating a new space for us just down the hall that will give us more elbow room, with additional space available to us in the future as our needs increase.

While most of our clients conduct business with us by phone and email, we always like to have clients make an appointment to come to our office so that we can meet face to face. Of course, this is impossible for most, as our clients contact us from all over the United States and many foreign countries.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

To trust or not to trust? - Lifetime interview

Several months ago Lifetime called me up, for a project called, "Spot a Liar". They wanted to know about some of the infidelity cases that I had worked on and what information I had gleened from watching and/or catching the unfaithfuls. Since we do spend quite a bit of man (or woman) hours investigating those who cheat, I was able to give the ladies at Lifetime some of my observations about what to watch out for, what instincts to trust, and when checking up on someone's background isn't paranoid, just smart. To view the article online go to:

Constance Marie, PI

New logo, new image

Today we introduced our new Sherlock Investigations logo. For the past ten years we used an image of Sherlock Holmes holding a magnifying glass. While it served us well, we felt that it didn't really convey who we are or what we do.
Today, through advanced technology, we serve our clients mostly without having to leave the office.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Case of the Missing Harley

Sherlock Investigations is taking more and more criminal cases as identification theft and Internet fraud proliferates. In a recent case, an Ohio man purchased a Harley on eBay for $8,000. When he didn’t receive his bike, he contacted Sherlock Investigations. Rian, our computer forensics expert, tracked down the seller through her email address.

Meanwhile, the would-be buyer filed a complaint in his home state, resulting in an arrest warrant. We notified the NYPD about the whereabouts of the fraudster. They picked her up in the middle of the night. She’s now awaiting extradition to Ohio.

We later found out that she has scammed a lot of other people for many thousands of dollars. And now the federal authorities are investigating her for wire fraud.

In a new development, it looks like our client will actually get his money back, including our investigative fees.

Celebrating Ten Years

Established in 1995, Sherlock Investigations, is now ten years old. Sherlock's site on the Internet is also ten years old. Designed and maintained by Ruth Shepard, Pintis Operations, in Alford, MA, the site has become well-known throughout the world.

Welcome to Sherlock's Case Files!

Our web site is meant to convey the message that we enjoy what we do, and to celebrate our team spirit when helping clients. I've always felt that if you don't enjoy what you're doing, find another career, as life is short.

At Sherlock Investigations, we receive resumes and job applications all the time. Many are impressive, and some are, well, I can’t think of something polite to say right now. For example, one guy emailed us through our site and asked me to email him my phone number so he could call me about working here. I emailed him back and said that our phone number is on our site, and if he couldn’t find it, then he shouldn’t be applying for a job as an investigator.

The investigators at Sherlock Investigations are here because they’ve all proven themselves in their various areas of expertise. While none of us are perfect, we put forth our best effort to satisfy our clients.