Identity Theft and the Hijacking of our Personal Information

What is Identity Theft?

When a person is born in the United States, he or she is first meaningfully (and sometimes quite uniquely) named by his or her parents or loved ones, and then inevitably numbered by the Social Security Administration. Ultimately, the number provided by our government is for the purpose of identification and tracking. This sophisticated method of tracking offers perpetrators the opportunity to commit acts of fraud by adopting the unique identifier of another and using that number for nefarious purposes. This is just one example of the growing problem(s) of identity theft and identity fraud. And it is one of the most common (and profitable) fraudulent acts perpetrated by criminals today.

Who is at Risk of Identity Fraud?

Identity theft can happen to anyone. Irrespective of race, nationality, gender, religious views, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status, its victims can include the elderly and the newborn. It is an equal-opportunity hijacking. Even the mentally ill, infirm, and deceased are not safe. Our information is no longer secure; there is no longer such a thing as “privacy.”

This era of technology allows the digital pillager easy access to an individual’s personal information or a business establishment’s data to open fraudulent credit card accounts, apply for personal or business loans, or access financial records, subsequently allowing a thief the perfect silent opportunity to steal funds from their victims’ accounts. The damage is oftentimes done and the offender has gone long before the victim even realizes something has been taken.

The Role of Digital Science in the Battle

Digital science is extremely helpful in cybercrime. Digital forensics (also known as computer forensics) is a branch of forensic science. It deals with the investigation and recovery of material found on digital devices, often in relation to computer crimes or attacks. Private investigators who specialize in digital forensics can help apprehend the perpetrator by applying investigatory techniques to track activity using specialized techniques and software. 

Cyber Criminal
Cyber Criminal

The average person is not privy to many of the programs to which the digital forensic specialist has access; therefore, it is ideal to hire a private investigator who specializes in this field to obtain evidence of fraud. Both civil and criminal matters use digital forensics to help those who have been victimized. Commercial organizations and companies can also use computer forensics to help assist within cases of intellectual property theft, forgeries, employment disputes, bankruptcy investigations, and fraud compliance.

The Consumer Sentinal Network

The Consumer Sentinel Network maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tracks consumer fraud and identity theft complaints that have been filed with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and private organizations. In 2019, a record 3.2 million fraud and identity theft cases were reported. 1.7 million were fraud-related, approximately 900,000 were other consumer complaints and about 651,000 were identity theft complaints, according to the Insurance Information Institute, referenced in their 2019 Identity Fraud Study.

Warning Signs of Identity Theft

  • Withdrawals from your bank account that you do not recognize.
  • Not receiving bills and other mail.
  • Checks suddenly become refused by merchants.
  • Receiving calls from debt collectors regarding debts that do not belong to you.
  • Your credit report shows unfamiliar accounts or charges.
  • Receiving medical bills for services you did not render.
  • Your healthcare provider rejects legitimate medical claims. Benefit limits show to be met, whenever they are in fact not.  
  • Medical records show that you have a condition that you do not have, of which your health plan refuses to cover.
  • Notification by the IRS that you have more than one tax return filed in your name or declares that you work somewhere that you do not work.
  • Receiving a notice that your information was compromised by a business that you have an account with or a data breach at an establishment where you do business.

What Steps Can I take to Help Protect Myself Against Identity Theft?

Steps to Protect Yourself from Identity Fraud
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  • Protect your Social Security card in a secure, fireproof lockbox. Never carry your Social Security card on your person. Verify the company upon request of Social Security number.
  • Do not share personal information with non-verifiable sources. This includes your full legal name, social security number, birth date, or financial institute account numbers.
  • Retrieve your mail every day. When you are away from your home or business for an extended amount of time, place a hold on your mail with your local post office.
  • Reconcile banking and billing statements from your bank and credit card companies. If financial statements are delayed or don’t reach you, make sure you contact your bank. 
  • Utilize security features on devices, especially mobile electronics.
  • While utilizing public wi-fi, use a private network (VPN), temporarily deactivate sharing capabilities, and update firewall settings.
  • Financial institutions such as credit card companies, banks, or credit union statements need to be monitored. Look for unauthorized transactions on statements. Make sure to compare receipts with financial institution statements.
  • To prevent “dumpster divers” from accessing personal information shred account/financial statements, credit offers expired credit/bank cards and receipts.
  • Install protection software such as firewalls and virus-detection and prevention on all electronic devices.
  • Create complex passwords to prevent thieves from guessing them and change them often. If a company that you conduct business with experiences a data breach, change your password immediately. 
  • Keep your passwords secure and unique. One of the most common sources of information for attackers is the use of a single password for many of your accounts. Apps such as 1Password, Lastpass, and Dashlane can help keep track of your passwords for all of the sites you use in a convenient, self-contained vault. All you have to keep track of is the account password and all. of your site-specific passwords are right there for your convenience. They also have browser extensions that can auto-fill your passwords right into the site so you don’t even have to go searching for it within the app.
  • Review your credit reports either annually or semi-annually. Check for unfamiliar accounts. The Federal Government offers one annual credit report from all three reporting agencies at no cost.
  • Contact credit bureaus and creditors such as Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, Innovis, National Consumer Telecommunications, and Utilities Exchange to freeze credit files at no cost. Credit freezes prevent thieves from fraudulently applying for and receiving approval for a credit account or utility service in your name.

Where Can I Turn for Identity Theft Help?

The risk of identity theft and fraud exists ubiquitously, especially with regard to digital technology. Still, the same technological advances equally combat this highly personable threat. Therefore, identity theft is both perceptible and largely preventable. One proactive measure is to utilize software services that offer identity theft protection. There are many programs offering identity theft protection to those who wish to increase their security. One popular solution is LifeLock. Another is Identity Guard. Yet another is McAfee (yes, that McAfee, the antivirus guys). For a list of possible solutions, you can also visit Consumers Advocate.

Identity Fraud
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Make sure to perform credit checks frequently. This allows individuals to continuously monitor activity corresponding to one’s social security number. If you have been (or think you have been) a victim of identity theft and need to file a report, please visit the Federal Trade Commission and report your claim. You will have the opportunity to create a personalized recovery plan. The recovery plan consists of a step-by-step recovery process that puts your plan into action, updates your plan as needed, tracks your progress, as well as offers prefilled forms and letters for the advancement of your recovery.  


To summarize, individuals and businesses alike need to create an attentive internal system that thoroughly prevents and protects personal, consumer, and business information.

If you suspect that you have been targeted for identity theft or fraud, quickly act by checking credit reports for unauthorized or unfamiliar accounts. If one finds evidence to pursue further investigation, freeze your credit and report the incident to appropriate authorities. Another important safeguard is to employ a digital forensic investigator to trace virtual activity. Ultimately this will be in one’s best interest in helping to minimize the damage and gain evidence if legal action is available. 

It never feels good to experience a violation of any sort. Although identity theft is a concerning threat in today’s technological era, taking the steps necessary to protect yourself and your family, as well as your business, employees, and consumers by maintaining a proactive stance can provide one with sound peace of mind.

Human Trafficking and the Fight for our Children’s Innocence

What is Human Trafficking?

The Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Human trafficking can happen to anyone. It is blind to race, nationality, age, or gender. An estimated 71% of trafficked and/or enslaved people are women and girls, while men and boys account for 29%. Human trafficking occurs all around us and in our very own backyards. It is a serious and pervasive crime and a severe violation of human rights and dignity.

Most countries of the world consider human trafficking transnational organized crime. It is modern-day slavery and entails the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. It can include providing a “spouse” for forced marriage or even the involuntary harvesting of human organs or tissues to sell on the black market. It can also include surrogacy and ovary removal.

The immense funding sources for human trafficking are multi-faceted and varied. Sources of financial backing can include such secondary crimes as money laundering, terrorist activities, theft of art and cultural property, illicit arms trafficking, aircraft hijacking, sea piracy, insurance fraud, computer crime, environmental crime, illicit drug trafficking, fraudulent bankruptcy, infiltration of legal business, and the corruption and bribery of public or party officials.

Most often, the grooming and exploitation of potential victims starts early and at home. For children, the most common abductors are family members, neighbors, and friends. There are even documented cases of newborn infants being trafficked!

The shocking ease with which perverts and deviants can anonymously slither into your children’s lives through social media channels only complicates matters. They can be very manipulative and shower young girls (or boys) with compliments and gifts to garner trust and intimate details. Thorn, a group that advocates and empowers the fight against child sex trafficking, states that 88% of victims said their trafficker told them they would take care of them, 83% responded that the trafficker bought them things, and 73% noted that the trafficker told them they loved them.

Human Trafficking Statistics
Human Trafficking Statistics,

How Does the United States Combat Human Trafficking?

The United States Department of Homeland Security created the Blue Campaign, a national public awareness campaign to fight human trafficking. Their website provides resources for both the public and officials. Their slogan is One Voice. One Mission. End Human Trafficking ®. It drives to educate and empower the public, law enforcement, and other industry partners to recognize possible indicators of human trafficking and to appropriately respond to potential cases. Law enforcement and the public alike can find materials and training to increase detection and identify victims via the Blue Campaign’s Awareness Training Program.

Human Trafficking Indicators

There are many possible signs of human trafficking. The list below illustrates some common signals that human trafficking is taking place.

  • The victim is not in possession of identification and travel documents and is not in control of the documents.
  • The victim is coached on what to say to law enforcement and immigration officials.
  • The victim is recruited for one purpose and forced to engage in some other job.
  • The victim’s salary is being garnished to pay off a smuggling fee. Paying off a smuggling fee alone is not considered trafficking.
  • The victim is forced to perform sexual acts.
  • The victim does not have freedom of movement.
  • The victim or family has been threatened with harm if the victim attempts to escape.
  • The victim has been threatened with deportation or law enforcement action.
  • The victim has been harmed or deprived of food, water, sleep, medical care, or other life necessities.
  • The victim cannot freely contact friends or family.
  • The victim is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex.
  • The victim is not allowed to socialize or attend religious services.

Human Trafficking vs Smuggling

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the classification of human trafficking and human smuggling are not synonymous.

Human trafficking is defined as:

  • Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or
  • The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Human Smuggling is defined as:

  • The importation of people into the United States involving deliberate evasion of immigration laws. This offense includes bringing illegal aliens into the United States as well as the unlawful transportation and harboring of aliens already in the United States.

These are not interchangeable terms

  • Smuggling is transportation-based
  • Trafficking is exploitation-based

Human Trafficking Targets

Every year, the United States reports thousands of cases of human trafficking. Many more go unnoticed or unreported. Tribal communities, such as the American Indians and Alaska Natives are hit hard with missing person cases, as their tribal sovereignty status within the states allows their indigenous peoples to go undetected and unprotected in missing person cases. The tribal population occupies approximately 326 Indian land areas in the United States of America.

Trafficking often occurs within under-developed countries to more developed countries where people are rendered susceptible to trafficking through poverty, conflict, or other conditions. We need to act with vigilance for effective prevention. In addition, we must educate and promote personal accountability to bring to light these tragic crimes out of the hidden darkness.

Bound Hands
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Human trafficking cases are not statistics, a random number, or a nameless face. Victims of human trafficking are living breathing human beings: men, women, and children. Traffickers do not discriminate against their chosen victims. They target those who are unaware of their surroundings. They want the woman to walk alone. They want runaway teenagers. They want the forgotten homeless. They lure the unmonitored and naïve child on the internet. They prey on the vulnerable. They prey on the innocent.

Governmental Policy and Legislative Justice

The World Population Review estimates that 199,000 cases of human trafficking occur each year within the United States of America. The first step in combating human trafficking in the United States was the Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act, enacted in the year 2000. This was a crucial moment in the fight against human trafficking. The TVPA paved the way for the United States federal government to respond to human trafficking.

Since then, Congress has built on this foundation, enhancing and intensifying laws within the legislative and judicial branches. According to the non-profit Global Movement for Good website, Do Something, the annual profit margin from human trafficking exceeds $150 billion dollars.

Through the Polaris Project, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) investigates the bulk of sex and labor trafficking involving foreign cases. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) investigates the majority of domestic minor related sex trafficking cases via their Innocence Lost Initiative program. The Justice Department leads federal prosecutions and funds state and local law enforcement agencies to form human trafficking task forces.

There are many federal laws designed to reduce the profit motive for labor trafficking by barring the import of goods made with trafficking labor. FAR 22.1704 provides the United States government’s recourse in the event of a violation. FAR 52.222–50 outlines the U.S. government’s zero-tolerance policy with regard to trafficking in persons. The Customs and Facilitations and Trade Enforcement Act amended the prohibition on imported goods made with trafficking labor. Finally, the Tariff Act of 1930 prohibits importing goods made with forced or indentured labor.

Businesses profiting more than $500,000 worth of goods or services must have a plan in place to prevent trafficking. Federal Contractors must also certify that, to the best of their knowledge, their supply chain has not engaged in any trafficking-related activities.


Much like the “war on drugs,” governments and law enforcement agencies are fighting an uphill battle. Fighting against hidden and subversive enemies with unending sources of revenue, governments also need adequate funding to even stand a chance. While there has been a recent surge in the attention given to this problem, we are still nowhere near the appropriate amount in dedicated spending to defeat this growing epidemic.

Government Spending
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Within the [United States] Office on Trafficking in Persons, the Office of Administration for Children and Families submitted their Congressional Budget Justification Report which included funding for programs, projects, and activities for foreign national victims. It also included funding for programs for domestic victims, in the amount of $26,755,000 for the fiscal year of 2019.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also funds the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline. To get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, you may call them at (888) 373–7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733). They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are fluent in English, Spanish, and more than 200 other languages. For more information please visit their website.

Besides the obviously sensible protection measures, there are ways you can help

  1. Join the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign to keep informed.
  2. Share material and resources from the Blue Campaign site with others. Be vigilant advocating against human trafficking, as well as promoting education and intolerance.
  3. Contribute to groups like Thorn.
  4. Be an informed consumer. Know who makes the products you buy and the food you eat. Do not buy from companies that use child workers or workers under duress. This can help keep slavery-tainted items out of your home. Please view, download and share the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor Pamphlet, and avoid contributing to those companies and human trafficking crime rings.
  5. Recognize and report suspected human trafficking. Contact Federal law enforcement: 1–866-DHS-2-ICE or submit a tip online.

In Conclusion

Human trafficking is a repulsive crime that has remained in the shadows of society. This is due in large part to government officials’ deficiency in focusing on this issue. A secondary responsibility is on the absence of national and international media coverage. This has allowed trafficking crimes to grow in number worldwide. To report suspected human trafficking to Federal Law Enforcement in the United States, please call 1 (866) 347–2423.

Human trafficking is a covert act of malevolence. Most misconducts trace to an excessive attachment to material wealth. The Apostle Paul cautions us of this evil within the Holy Bible. 1 Timothy 6:9–10 states:

“But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts. Which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

It is too late to heed Apostle Paul’s warning, but it is not too late to act on humanity’s behalf. We need to remain vigilant for the prevention, protection, and recovery of victims. Human trafficking is a global threat, and it requires a global response. Public awareness should be a top priority for us all.

Parental Alienation and the Effect of Roping Your Children into a Tug-of-War

What is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation, in laymen’s terms, is the toxic practice of one parent keeping a child away from the other parent. This usually occurs for malicious intent such as accusations of infidelity and/or remarriages. Professionals consider parental alienation a form of emotional and psychological abuse. The practice of withholding a child from his or her other capable, willing, and fit parent derives from a place of control, which in itself is a form of psychological abuse.

Child custody is an inevitable by-product of many divorces. The judicial system in our country can oftentimes treat child custody as a topic of an understatement. Either that, or it is front-and-center in the proceedings. Either extreme pits the parents against each other and forces them to do battle over their children. If you have experienced divorce with children in tow, you understand the emotional aspect of these issues and how their presence can play a big part in custody “battles.”

Society encourages us to “go to battle” for our children. To do whatever it takes to keep our children, even if there is irreversible harm. Are we pre-programming our minds to fight for the best interest of our children? Or is this a message hardwired in our brains by a malicious and controlling society?

Another term often used is “broken family.” Using the term “united family” in place of the phrase “broken family” encourages positive thinking not only for the children but the families, as well. This article describes parental alienation in professional terms and outlines the different types of parental alienation.

What Effects Does Parental Alienation Have on the Child?

An alienated child can become hostile to the rejected parent and may express fear or even hatred of them. Even if they had a good relationship before, the child may say he or she can’t remember any good times or positive experiences. He or she will resist talking to or seeing the rejected parent and may try to curry favor with the custodial parent by being negative and dismissive toward the other parent.

According to Amy J. L. Baker, Ph.D., a nationally-recognized expert on parental alienation, some children are able to resist the pressure to choose one parent over the other. But when they can’t, they become alienated. “They reject the targeted parent without justification. Their relationship with the targeted parent is based on the emotional manipulation of the favored parent rather than on actual experiences with the targeted parent,” she explains.

What Is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

The theory of parental alienation syndrome was introduced by psychiatrist Richard Gardner in the 1980s, but there’s disagreement about it among experts. The American Psychiatric Association does not recognize it, and it is not listed in the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, though Baker points out that it does meet the APA’s definition of a syndrome. Still, she says, there has been confusion as to whom PAS refers to (the parent, the child, or the family), and she prefers to focus on the tactics alienators use and the behavior of the alienated child. “That way, everyone is clear about what we’re talking about,” she says.

In her article Parental Alienation, Symptoms, and Its Impact, Tracy Guth-Spangler outlines three types of parental alienation: Naïve, Active, and Obsessive Alienators. Each type displays different behaviors and exhibits different reactions to common situations.

Naïve Alienators

The naïve alienator wants the child to have a good relationship with the other parent but will occasionally do or say something hurtful (“Tell your dad it would help if he was on time to pick you up”). Still, decent communication between the parents and their mutual desire to support their kids is apparent. The kids will generally weather the divorce well and will not become alienated from one parent over the other.

Active Alienators

Active alienators also believe their kids should have a good relationship with the other parent, but they have a harder time not letting their own pain and frustration affect their behavior. They lash out at or about the other parent in front of the children and maybe rigid and uncommunicative with their ex. This can cause pain and confusion for children around how they should feel about or act toward the other parent.

Obsessive Alienators

Obsessive alienators actively try to win the child to their side and aim to prevent or destroy any relationship with the other parent. If they feel anger, hatred, or fear toward their former partner, they assume or decide the child must feel the same, and they choose to “protect” their child at all costs. The child may begin to parrot what this parent is doing and saying, and his or her negative feelings toward the rejected parent can become extreme.

Alienation Tactics

Tactics of parental alienation are also addressed. Dr. Baker says research has identified five categories of alienation tactics. These tactics can foster conflict and distance between the child and the targeted parent:

  • Portraying the targeted parent as unloving, unsafe, and unavailable.
  • Limiting contact and communication between the child and the targeted parent.
  • Erasing and replacing the targeted parent in the child’s heart and mind.
  • Encouraging the child to betray the targeted parent’s trust.
  • Undermining the targeted parent’s authority.

Ms. Guth-Spangler further explains the understanding of behaviors associated with parental alienation: “Parents should avoid engaging in behaviors that are likely to result in a child falsely believing that the other parent is unsafe, unloving, and unavailable,” Baker says.

“Many parents claim they never bad-mouth the other, but bad-mouthing is only one of a number of behaviors that constitute parental alienation. Some claim they want the child to have a good relationship with the other parent and that they are not intentionally sabotaging it, but intentionality is not really relevant — the behaviors a parent engages in and the attitudes they convey are what matters, not their intentions.”

Behavior Indicators that a Child is Alienated

According to Baker, children display eight behaviors that can be read as symptoms of alienation. “Any parent concerned that a child is becoming alienated should be on the lookout for even a hint of these behaviors,” she says.

  • Extreme negative views toward the parent, including denying past positive experiences, and lack of investment or interest in improving the relationship.
  • Frivolous or absurd reasons for hurt and anger with the parent.
  • Seeing one parent as all good and the other as all bad.
  • Always siding with the favored parent, no matter what he or she says or does.
  • A lack of remorse for hurting the rejected parent’s feelings.
  • Claiming to reject the parent with no influence from the favored parent, even though that parent is an obvious influence.
  • Repeating the favored parent’s words without always understanding what they mean.
  • Becoming cold and hostile toward friends and family of the rejected parent.

Society is negatively affected on many levels, due to the subsequent damage of parental alienation to our future generations. Social, economical, and political matters can all influence parental alienation. The family court rarely recognizes parental alienation syndrome. Judges presiding over child custody cases are not professionally suitable to oversee psychological and emotional abuse. They are not required to obtain a degree in child psychology, merely a law degree. The testimony of experts can sometimes sway a judge’s ruling, but ultimately, it is up to the judge in the case, not the experts.

Unscrupulous Judicial and Attorney Tactics

The majority of countries around the world do not have legislation protecting families from parental alienation syndrome. Brazil is one of the few countries that recognize and create legislation to combat parental alienation. Furthermore, in the United States, evidence suggests that judicial misconduct is a rampant issue within the judicial system. Such violations by family court judges against one’s constitutional rights are becoming more common. Due process, pursuing witness testimony, neglecting to call present witnesses to the stand, and neglecting to exclude evidence of perjury within witness statements are all fairly common.

Misconduct can also extend to negligent and otherwise incompetent attorney representation. Deliberately not subpoenaing written requested witnesses, refusing requested testimony by the other party, etc. are all very common tactics used by unscrupulous attorneys.

Never Forget What is Best for the Children

The emotional well-being of the child — and his or her relationship with both parents — is paramount. “The most important thing to remember in a co-parenting situation is that you and the child are not the same people,” Baker says. “You may be hurt and angry with the other parent, but your child deserves to have a relationship with both parents, regardless of how the parents feel about each other.” She adds, “I applaud any parent who asks him or herself, ‘What have I done that may be interfering in or undermining the child’s relationship with the other parent?’ That’s the best place to start.”

Parental alienation is deeply harmful to innocent children. This unhealthy abusive behavior warrants restructure and reform of family law and psychology. After all, a parent that denies a loving relationship with a fit parent is using a form of “lawful kidnapping” and should be recognized for what it is and abolished within family law.

Children need love, attention, and devotion from both parents, for their wellbeing. In order for them to live their best life filled with ample opportunities and in pursuit of happiness, we must put grudges and vengeance aside. Affected parents and mental health professionals all over the world are using their voices effectively and efficiently to speak for each child that is distanced from his or her alienated parent and aiding corrupt court systems to end the toxic practice of parental alienation.

Can Private Investigators Use Drones?

In this article, we discuss the use of retail drones (quadcopters) within the private investigation sector.

DISCLAIMER We are not attorneys and you should not construe anything in this article as legal advice! Please use common sense and follow the statutes of the individual states in which you practice.

What is a Drone?

A drone is any vehicle that can be piloted remotely for the purposes of reconnaissance or surveillance. There are generally two categories of drones: the quadcopter type and the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The quadcopter is the “civilian” version and is the one most in use today. Quadcopters have many uses and are available to the general public from retailers such as Amazon or Best Buy. Their costs can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. They have a wide range of accessories and upgrades that can change the vehicle’s usability. These accessories can help the user customize and tailor the device to his or her desires. The quality of the images these products produce and the range of these devices is far inferior to that of an unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV.

A UAV is generally considered the “aircraft type” of drone and is the type most commonly associated with government agencies and the military. Quadcopters do not have anywhere near the same capabilities as military drones. UAV’s are primarily used for national security and/or military applications. They have very powerful cameras and can even launch weapons on a specific target from the air. Their uses and specs are highly classified and far outside the scope of this article.

In this article, we will only be discussing the far more common quadcopter variety and how it relates to private investigations.

How are Drones Used in Private Investigations?

The military, scholars, engineers, law enforcement agencies, hobbyists, and private investigators all use drones for various purposes and to fulfill a wide range of needs. Within the private investigation sector, drones can be a very beneficial tool.

For example, they can be useful in litigation cases requiring aerial footage of a crime scene or search grid, as well as aiding in the collection of evidence. Furthermore, drones can have surveillance benefits when staking out a possible location, in helping the investigator decide possible ingress and egress locations for a particular business or residence, as well as discovering whether other vehicles may be present at a particular location.

The investigator must exercise caution and discretion when using a drone for surveillance. We will get into some of the legal pitfalls of drone use in a later section.

Drones are also used to assist law enforcement and private investigators with accident reconstructions. Drone mapping software is extremely helpful in the reconstruction process. For example, DroneDeploy offers a quality software program to aid investigations where professional aerial imagery might be useful.

Drones can also allow an investigator the ability to document construction sites, sinkholes, or disaster areas. Aerial drones can also help locate a hidden property in a person’s backyard, the same way law enforcement uses helicopters to search for marijuana grow fields.

Drones are also beneficial for pre-surveillance recon. They can help determine routes available to your subject, and safely assist the private investigator with locating the subjects’ vehicle. When in need of aerial imagery, hiring a private investigator to conduct surveillance of an area is substantially less expensive than hiring a pilot to obtain information and photography within the elements.

Drones allow a private investigator to obtain real-time imagery of properties and are far superior to online tools such as Google Earth.

Why Not Just Use Google Earth?

Google Earth, when used correctly, can be a valuable tool for the private investigator. It can allow the PI to look for changes in the environment, regions of topography and surrounding areas to help assist in a case. It can also allow us to map out roadways and give us a glimpse of a location to aid in determining possible surveillance locations. However, there is currently no way to confirm the authenticity of the footage obtained via Google Earth. Trust in Google is the only validation we have that the information in Google Earth is even real. Because of Google Earth’s lack of any form of real-time validation, one cannot be certain that alterations haven’t taken place. It simply cannot establish a timeline of real-time imagery and events. And that makes it lacking.

For these reasons, Google Earth cannot be considered physical evidence within a court of law and Google Earth alone is usually inadmissible as evidence. However, the use of aerial drone imagery alongside Google Earth can help show how the topography has changed since Google captured the images. For example, construction vehicles may have damaged county sidewalks over time. This damage may have caused a jogger to trip, fall, and sustain injuries. This evidence would be valuable to an attorney in joining the construction company and homeowner in the lawsuit. Evidence of environmental changes can be beneficial to the outcome of the litigating case.

The requirements for proper and legal use of aerial surveillance within the constraints of the law sits in a gray area. For federal compliance, the FAA requires owners to register any and all unmanned aircraft for recreation and commercial use. Any user must follow this mandate, regardless of intended use. All vehicles MUST be registered with the FAA, with no exceptions.

The local statutes vary from state to state. Within the State of Texas where we practice, the law does not permit drone use for human surveillance. Private property surveillance is permissible with consent from all property owners. This is only permissible if the investigator intends to destroy all obtained imagery. Always check the statutes within the state you are operating to make sure you stay within the law.

The following statute regulates the use of drones for the purposes of investigations in the state of TEXAS. Please consult the statutes in your state to see if they differ from those listed here.

State of Texas Statutes for Drone Use




(a) A person commits an offense if the person uses an unmanned aircraft to capture an image of an individual or privately-owned real property in this state with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image. (b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor. (c) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the person destroyed the image: (1) as soon as the person had knowledge that the image was captured in violation of this section; and (2) without disclosing, displaying, or distributing the image to a third party. (d) In this section, “intent” has the meaning assigned by Section 6.03, Penal Code.


a) A person commits an offense if the person: (1) captures an image in violation of Section 423.003; and (2) possesses, discloses, displays, distributes, or otherwise uses that image. (b) An offense under this section for the possession of an image is a Class C misdemeanor. An offense under this section for the disclosure, display, distribution, or other use of an image is a Class B misdemeanor. (c) Each image a person possesses, discloses, displays, distributes, or otherwise uses in violation of this section is a separate offense. (d) It is a defense to prosecution under this section for the possession of an image that the person destroyed the image as soon as the person had knowledge that the image was captured in violation of Section 423.003. (e) It is a defense to prosecution under this section for the disclosure, display, distribution, or other use of an image that the person stopped disclosing, displaying, distributing, or otherwise using the image as soon as the person had knowledge that the image was captured in violation of Section 423.003.

So, Can We Use a Drone for Investigations or Not?

We read these statutes to mean that investigators CAN use a drone in the course of an investigation IF:

  • The footage only shows images of public property and no people are present (or at least identifiable) in the image.
  • The investigator destroys any images of people or private property obtained during the course of the flight, as soon as he or she becomes aware that any persons or private property are present in the footage.
  • The investigator does not disclose, display, or distribute any footage of people or private property to any third party. This includes even your client(s). In other words, DESTROY ALL FOOTAGE obtained via drone as soon as you become aware there is a person or private property in the image.
  • It is a Class C Misdemeanor (and possible revocation of your license) if you fail to follow these statutes.

As long as you destroy any footage you get of people or private property, drones can be a wonderful recon tool. They can help you get the lay of the land, as well as information for a case that you might not be able to get any other way. Use common sense and good judgment. Don’t risk your license by doing something stupid, such as peeking inside the windows of a home. As long as you follow the statutes in your state and you keep your ethics and integrity in check, I don’t see any problem at all with using a drone during an investigation. But, as always, please check with the local statutes in the states where you practice to ensure you remain in compliance.

A Great App to Use

Kitty Hawk powers the FAA’s drone safety app. This app helps streamline drone operations and consolidates all processes into a single platform. Kitty Hawk has partnered with the FAA to create a software program to assist drone operators with airspace safety before flight check. The following is a press release from FAA Executive Director Jay Merkle:

“B4UFLY is now powered by Kittyhawk Dynamic Airspace which is our patented airspace controller for managing real-time flight restrictions, authorizations, and guidance. It’s the core technology in all our products that enables us to build tools that are responsive in real-time to the real-world changes and complexity that is our National Airspace System (NAS).”

This powerhouse combo offers reliable software that provides safety to drone operators and the public. I encourage you to check it out if you intend to use a drone during the course of your investigations. It’s that good.

Final Approach

In conclusion, drones are beneficial for many reasons to various professionals, including the military, law enforcement, educators, and private investigators. Aerial surveillance is a great tool to conduct pre-surveillance, property searches, surveys, accident and incident reconstructions, litigation support, and in the collection of evidence. This makes drones a very attractive tool, not only for private investigators but also for the attorneys and clients who hire them. Again, it is very important to conduct thorough research on the laws and regulations within your state to ensure the safety of the public we serve. As long as you use a drone within the bounds and constraints of the law, they can be a highly effective tool to help you with any investigation.

Infidelity – When to Stay and When to Walk Away

Can Relationships Overcome Infidelity?

Infidelity and cheating are viable threats to any intimate relationship. Predicaments of an affair are a possibility for anyone, especially during this era of technology and virtual anonymity. Betrayals of relationship integrity, whether through infidelity, cheating, or adultery are, unfortunately, more common than one would think. If the couple has children, the fallout can be even more devastating. The following statistics help to illustrate the possibility of adultery occurring in one’s relationship:

  • 40% of unmarried couples and 25% of married couples experience at least one incident of infidelity or cheating at some point within the relationship.
  • 70% of all Americans engage in an affair of one type or another at some point in their marital life.
  • 45% of men and 35% of women have been either sexually or emotionally intimate with someone other than their committed partner.
  • 45-50 % of married women and 50-60% of married men engage in extramarital affairs at some point in their relationships.

That Sounds Bad! Is My Relationship Doomed?

No, but it will take some work. It may seem hopeless to repair a relationship that has been damaged by one of the ultimate betrayals. Cheating is the one error in judgment that is considered to be a deal-breaker for most relationships. Trust is a necessity in all aspects of relationships. It stands to reason, therefore, that a violation of trust, such as infidelity and cheating, can cause great heartache and devastation within a marriage. Infidelity can undermine the bedrock and the very foundation of marriage itself. It can devastate, humiliate, and crumble a once-thriving and loving union.

However, with hard work and a resolved commitment to make the relationship succeed, many relationships can (and do) survive a bout of infidelity or cheating. Just because your partner shows signs of cheating does not mean they are being unfaithful. And, even if your partner is cheating, an instance of infidelity doesn’t mean that your marriage is doomed. Marriage and family therapist Gabrielle Applebury states “adultery is no longer a deal-breaker in many marriages,” and that “70 percent of couples actually stay together after an affair is discovered.”

It takes time, patience, and commitment to overcome this obstacle. Relationship advice author Kevin Darné said, “one of the most important things a betrayed person should do is take some time to determine if they really can forgive.” When both partners are committed to healing the damage and closing the gap caused by a significant breach of trust, many marriages do survive and, with concentrated effort and work, can actually become stronger and experience deeper levels of intimacy.

The Three Types of Intimacy

There are three specific tools to “affair-proof” your relationship: Self Intimacy, Conflict Intimacy, and Affection Intimacy. These three tools can be thought of as the mortar to the building blocks of any relationship. Every recipe for a long-term relationship has at least some of each of these three ingredients. 


To start, self-intimacy is knowing what you feel, think, and want, and sharing these with your partner. It is being self-aware. When we are self-aware, we acknowledge what motivates us so that we can make healthier, more mature choices. We use our Emotional Self Awareness to strengthen Self Intimacy. Emotional intimacy is the foundation of any solid relationship. “Emotional intimacy can be defined as allowing yourself to connect more deeply with your partner through actions that express feelings, vulnerabilities, and trust”, says Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist in New York City and faculty member at Colombia University. It is being open and vulnerable and expressing that vulnerability to your partner. This brings couples closer together and enhances overall trust. And overall trust enhances intimacy.

Conflict Intimacy

Secondly, conflict intimacy is the ability to “do conflict well” in a relationship. This is a key tool that many couples lack. Differences and tension are inevitable in all relationships, especially those weathering infidelity, and being able to talk about these with one another is essential. Conflict intimacy is a marker of how well the couple can overcome tensions and difficulties within the relationship. The more effectively a couple can handle stress and tough times, the stronger and closer that couple is. Being able to “argue well” is a good indicator of how strong your relationship is. When couples can talk with respect and calm, they can begin the process of working through the negative, while simultaneously remaining in touch with the positive, loving aspects of their relationships. 

Affection Intimacy

And finally, affection intimacy is the “gravy” in the relationship; it is the sweet, sensual, and passionate/sexual aspects of the relationship. It feeds the love that grew early in the courtship. When a couple is good at Self Intimacy and Conflict Intimacy, their Affection Intimacy grows and flourishes. Their relationship is resilient and can handle differences. More importantly, they have a way of constructively dealing with the inevitable challenges that happen in all relationships. In this context, relationships with high levels of affection intimacy are able to discuss issues of personal integrity. Subsequently, they are better prepared to weather risks to relationship integrity. They are able to present fears and vulnerabilities in a way that does not harbor insecurities or view secrets as acceptable.

The Need for “Love” and the Influence of Commitment Phobia

We are all human. We cannot simply turn off our biological urges and ignore our instincts. However, we ARE able to control our behavior and not give in to our darkest desires. Unfortunately, many of us do succumb to this desire, especially during a vulnerable time in our life. It is very important that we maintain healthy communication within our relationships. We must do this with consistency, respect, understanding, and kindness.

Ultimately, human beings are social creatures; we all crave connection and unity with other people. In relationships that do not meet this need, it can be easy for one to stray. For some, it’s difficult to live up to the expectations of others. For others, commitment phobia and relationship anxiety are real and trying fears that can influence every relationship in their life. This is particularly true in romantic relations. 

Some Common Causes of Commitment Phobia

Some common causes of commitment phobia can include:

  • Worrying that the relationship will end without notice or signs.
  • Fear of not being in the “right” relationship. 
  • Concern about being in an unhealthy relationship characterized by abandonment, infidelity, abuse, etc. 
  • Childhood trauma or abuse.
  • Unmet childhood needs or attachment issues.
  • Complicated family dynamics while growing up

For these reasons, some relationships are especially challenging to preserve, and cheating can result from some of these unresolved issues.  Inevitably, not every relationship can withstand the transgression of an affair. Therefore, the unity and intimacy that once thrived in a healthy relationship can become extinguished and a single act of betrayal can develop into a casualty of the marriage. 

What Happens if the Cheater Decides to Leave His or Her Spouse and Marry the Outsider?

Well, statistics are not in their favor. For instance, roughly 3% of men who engage in extramarital affairs marry their mistresses. Men who do marry their paramours have a subsequent divorce rate as high as 75%. In fairness, most second and third marriages fail regardless of why the first one ended. A couple beginning their relationship on the betrayal of a sacred vow may have the odds stacked against them. But a marriage constructed out of unconditional love can overcome many obstacles, including infidelity.

What Are the Next Steps if My Partner Has Cheated?

For couples wishing to repair a marriage upended by infidelity, carefully consider how to proceed. Before choosing to decide whether to stay together or go your separate ways, take the time to heal and understand what was behind the affair. This is not a time to make important family decisions based on emotional responses. A marriage constructed out of unconditional love can overcome many obstacles, but there is also honor in fighting for your vows. In this, honor can heal wounded hearts. The following are significant tools that one may choose to apply in the healing process of their marriage:

  • First, seek guidance from a licensed psychologist and/or certified counselor who specializes in marriage and family therapy. Within these sessions, remain focused on the marital problems that built up to the affair. Do not stray away from the underlying problems. Find a therapist that encourages both parties to take accountability, this is imperative. Stay within boundaries. This is not the time to bring up any topics that existed prior to the relationship, such as childhood issues or any comparison of your current partner to those of previous relationships. A good marriage counselor will help you put the affair into perspective and help to identify the contributing factors that led to the affair. He or she can further provide both parties with the tools to rebuild and strengthen the relationship.  
  • Second, seek help from outside sources such as spiritual leaders, understanding and non-judgmental friends, and reading material that relates to infidelity. You may also consider utilizing resources on any of the issues that contributed to the affair. For example, self-help books, educational materials focusing on issues regarding control, and/or abusive tendencies within the relationship (if applicable) could be beneficial.
  • Third, if outside influences played a part in the damage that accrued, such as sexual assault, then other sources of help or information are available. If sexual assault is a factor, then other, more pressing issues of grieving come into play. Educating yourself on the sensitive topic of sexual assault, as well as the effects and aftermath, can help you and your partner overcome this trauma. Take the time to learn how to support your partner in healing from a traumatic situation. The support will certainly enhance the healing process and forge a strong bond to move forward with further reconciliation. “The only effort earned is the effort received. You get what you give, so give it your all.” Attitude is everything in life, thus it is important to reflect positive vibes with a mentality of “I’m willing to do everything I can to make this work.”
  • Finally, create a plan to re-establish trust, with the goal being reconciliation. If you were the responsible party and the betrayal is yours, admit your disloyalty to your partner, hold yourself accountable, and seek authentic forgiveness. If it was your partner who committed the infidelity, offer forgiveness when you are truly ready and seek understanding and reconciliation with the helpful tools described above. 

Concluding Thoughts

You should never consider an act of retaliation by cheating on your partner in kind. The healing process necessitates that both parties work to regain lost trust and respect. Moving forward will probably get worse before it gets better. It can be done, but only if both parties are committed to healing the relationship, despite all the pain and suffering that both parties are feeling. If you can work together and stick it out, the results can be very rewarding. Subsequently, one can achieve a renewed marriage–a partnership that continuously flourishes and will likely exceed any previous expectations and emerge renewed. Ultimately, to move forward successfully, reconciliation must be the end goal for both partners.

Child Custody and Divorce – A Domestic Dilemma

How does your divorce affect your children?

Divorce has an impact on everyone in the family. Not only are the parents directly affected (they are, after all, the ones who are making the decision to split up), but the children suffer the collateral damage. Children have no control over what is happening, they are not responsible, and they feel every bit of the turmoil that is going on around them. They often internalize the hurt and the anger and can hold themselves responsible.

The married couple is responsible for the outcome. Children are the ones who silently internalize what is happening around them and can even blame themselves for what is happening to their parents. And, except in instances of extreme abuse or neglect, a custodial parent should never alienate the child from the other, non-custodial parent.

Children pay attention

Many times, in the heat of the moment during a divorce, parents tend to focus more on the negative issues between them, especially when there has been infidelity. All of the happy times of the life they shared are forgotten. The problems become the focus. They either do not notice what this does to the children or don’t pay attention to the potential damage they are causing. Children pick up on everything. They are like sponges and absorb all manner of things in their environment. Therefore, it is very important that we, as adults, also keep in mind that what we do has consequences for our children.

Check out this book

There is a book by Eleanor E. Maccoby and Robert H. Mnookin titled Dividing the Child: Social and Legal Dilemmas of Custody. It is published by Harvard University Press and expertly outlines this phenomenon in detail. If this topic interests you or you are concerned about how your children may be affected by your divorce, please check it out. You can pick up a copy on Amazon.

How we can help

If you or a loved one is facing a domestic dilemma, including litigation, we truly sympathize. Legal and family turmoils, such as child custody and divorce, can be very difficult emotionally and stressful for everyone in the family. When you add children to the mix, things can become extremely daunting and complex. It’s no secret that child custody and divorce proceedings are front-and-center to some of the most stressful times of our lives. Red Door Investigations fully supports the 50/50 child custody rule. Children need the love and attention of both parents. Even more so when things in the home are confusing and scary for them.

Unfortunately, with child custody and divorce situations, sometimes there are circumstances beyond our control. There is no other private investigation company that wants to help and support you more in your time of need. We have the means, the tools, and the methods to help during this stressful and emotional time. Leave it to us; our professional private investigators will work to uncover any physical evidence that could help your case. We will use our experience and expertise to help your divorce and/or child custody case reach a successful outcome.

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