World known Sherlock Holmes would have envied modern private investigators, who have on hand not only deduction but social networks as well. However, in practice the world of private detectives is not as romantic as described in novels of Conan Doyle and Edgar Poe. To learn about the life of private investigators ForUm has engaged into its own investigation.

Why do Ukrainians hire private investigators?

Most often modern Ukrainian investigators engage in cases on business security, missing people, personal information. "People also come to investigate into their children's behavior, including drugs, crimes, suspicious relations, gambling, money. We receive various orders - from missing pets to absolutely illegal. The question is whether we take them all. First we study all our orders. There are certain principles, private detectives all over the world follow. First of all it concerns legal aspect. We must do everything within the law, which prohibits invasions of personal life. In fact, we do the same the law enforcements do, but privately. In contrast to the state bodies, private investigators are free to choose their clients. We can abandon the case, if a client pursues ignoble purposes. Some journalists or clients often ask to give an example of cases under investigation. I always refuse. Imagine the situation, when a client reads about his case in a newspaper," head of the detective agency "Bureau of private investigations" Denis Klimov says.

Another golden rule of every detective is full confidentiality. "People often trust us things they do not trust their close relatives. To preserve client's trust is the most important thing for reputation. Hence, no personal examples," he warns us immediately. "I believe it is impossible to find a client who would agree to tell about his case. 60% of our clients do not reveal anything, but an e-mail address (often temporary) and a nickname. 30% of clients agree to meet, but do not provide any personal information. And only 10% of clients want to work officially and even ask to make a contract," the detective says. 

According to the private investigator, one of the most popular services is investigation into "virtual" people. "For example, two people met through Internet - chat, blog - and one of them wants to know more about another. Often it turns out that behind the screen there is no beautiful girl, but a mentally sick man or a bored person who cannot find something better to do. Social networks are storages of huge amount of confidential information people are ready to share voluntarily. With the help of this information, we can learn about someone's personal life, friends, interests and even see photos. In any chaos there is a hidden order, and detective's job is to find it," the detective specifies.

Despite open information in social networks, Ukrainian private detectives have their own code of ethics. "One of our main principles is confidentiality. In the majority of case, the client's problem is known to a small circle of people, and disclosure of data is not even under consideration," he noted. "But there are issues clients have no need to know. It concerns such personal data as a number of bank account, phone number, home address. We specify this before opening the investigation. The cost of services is also discussed in advanced."

Price list

"Many clients are ready to pay pretty money for independent investigation. People are attracted by the fact that investigators' work is transparent and they must report to clients on the course of investigation.  There is no standard price list for our services. Every order is individual regarding expenses and costs. How can you average the cost of a search, if today you search in a village of Cherkassy region, and tomorrow - somewhere in Africa? To simplify the question about price list, I can give you very approximate figures: collection of information about people and enterprises from open sources - starting from UAH 2400 ($300), family issues - starting from UAH 2400 ($300), search of people or property - starting from UAH 4000 ($500), protection of business from unfair rivals - starting from UAH 8000 ($1000)," Klimov informs and once again specifies the prices are not exact.

"We earn money with our activity, but I cannot say that we are successful businessmen. Detectives working for business can earn more and do earn. We don't. We are not businessmen. I am a detective by nature. The state taught me this, but at some point the state no longer needed my services and I retired. However, I am still full of strength, so why not to continue what I know to do best?" the detective notes.

"In the majority of cases our clients are rich people, who can afford services of private investigators. A client pays all expenses and the fee, so we deal with pretty big sums of money. Proper service is not cheap. We often work 24 hours, under any weather conditions, far from home and sometimes out of the country. We often have clients who became victims of false detectives. The proverb says 'Expensive detective costs a lot, but a cheap detective costs even more.' However, if a client pursues noble purposes we never refuse to help. Sometimes it happens we work for free. Sometimes sense of justice does not allow to take money for search of missing children or old people or to charge pensioners, being robbed by a bastard relative," Denis says shrugging his shoulders.

How to tell a good detective from a swindler

Applying to a private detective for services people may come across a swindler or non-professional. It is as difficult to find a good detective, as to find a good doctor, lawyer or teacher. To tell a good detective from a swindler people should pay attention to some facts. A detective agency must be registered as an enterprise or sole proprietor and have corresponding registration documents. Potential customers can ask among friends and familiars who already used similar services and were satisfied with them. The majority of detective agencies has their websites, but be careful as scammers also use Internet and a good website does not mean good services. Clients also should learn if the detective agency of interest is a member of Association or union of private detectives. It may be a certain guarantee in case of disputes. There is similar organization in Ukraine, which numbers more than 30 private investigators and agencies.

A client, in his turn, also must be honest, as detectives have a common list of unreliable clients. Moreover, actions of the very client must be legal. Though the cooperation between private investigators and law enforcements is not registered officially, we cannot do without. "As there is no law on private investigation in Ukraine, we cannot cooperate officially with the law enforcements. In Russia for example, such cooperation is stipulated by the law. Cooperation between private investigators and police forces can be voluntary or in some cases obligatory (a detective must inform law enforcement agencies about all crimes being prepared, being committed or already committed). In our country this process is at the level of personal connections - somebody gives a whisper to someone. In general, however, almost all private detectives are former state officers and cannot pass by a crime," Denis Klimov says and adds he hopes the parliament will adopt a proper law on private investigative activity soon.

Detective activity in Ukraine is illegal?

"It seems the time is not right for adoption of a corresponding law. However, me and my colleagues have already worked out a draft bill on private investigative activity and are ready to submit it for consideration. Our draft bill meets all strict requirements of the European law. Besides, I want to say some words about so-called "civilized countries." Not all of them have a law on private investigative activity. In Germany, for example, such activity is regulated not by a separate direct law, but by resolutions of the government. Though not every country has a law on private investigative activity, nobody there considers such activity illegal," he says. In Ukraine, however, the opinions differ.

Some people believe the activity of private investigators is illegal, as there is no proper law. In response to such statements, detectives say: "Is there a law on hairdressing services? No? So what, cutting hair is illegal?"

To remain honest before the law and themselves, detectives use all methods of obtaining information, which are not prohibited by law. "Open sources of information are the most obvious method, but usually underestimated and ignored. What are open sources of information? These are ads in forums, profiles in social networks, ads on special boards, etc. If to analyze this data correctly, you can get a lot of useful information. Another method is questioning. However, this method requires certain skills and preparation, as unexpected questioning of neighbors or colleagues may result in reasonable distrust or suspicion. And the third method is visual surveillance, if you need to learn person's routine, his work or connections," the detective gives details of his work. 

Professional skills come in handy. "As a rule, the majority of detectives are former officers of law enforcement bodies. Some brilliant specialists simply do not want to work for nothing and leave state bodies for private agencies to earn better. Those who really care often open their own agencies. The colleagues I know are former officers of Interior Ministry and Security Service, and not the worst ones. Our work is hard, but interesting. Those who believe detective's work is fun, as it is pictured in movies, are wrong. The work requires endurance and patience. It happens we have to get up at 5 a.m., to stay in a car for 15 hours without even going to pee, to come home long after midnight. Our working hours and days-off are not regular. Without proper training and experience, without certain ties in law enforcements and not knowing the legislation it is difficult to accomplish. However, there is an opinion that former state officers are harder to teach specifics of private investigation. Some believe it is easier to take someone from the street and train him from the very beginning, as such people do not have stereotypes, peculiar to former state officers. It is not difficult to become a detective, it is difficult to work as one," Denis believes. According to him, there is not so much romanticism in this profession, as described in books or movies.

Sherlock Holmes of XXI century

"TV shows and movies about detectives are misrepresentative. For this we create forums and blogs, where people can learn about our services and get a consultation. Novels about detectives including fights, shootouts, wigs and sunglasses do not represent the reality. The real life of detectives is unpoetic. Of course, we go questioning people, taking photos and collecting information, but our principal activity is to analyze the collected data. Take Sherlock Holmes, for example. Did he eavesdrop? No. He was using his brain. 'The one who possesses information - possesses the world'. The main work of a detective is data processing and conclusion making based on collected information. People either have certain prejudices about our profession or are not as well informed as we wish," Denis Klimov believes.

Tetyana Hryhorieva


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