Naturally, as part of any corporate investigation, whether for due diligence purposes or in gathering intelligence on a potential suspect in a fraud investigation, there are times when we don’t need the intended target to be aware of our presence. This is when Blackhawk’s intelligence and investigations team has to employ covert techniques to acquire information crucial to the successful outcome of a case.
What is a Covert Visit?
Quite simply, a “covert visit” is a term we use to describe Blackhawk Intelligence’s practice of acquiring the evidence we need from the environment we believe fraudulent activity is taking place, without raising the suspicions of those involved.
Situations arise where an investigation needs evidence to be obtained from inside a client’s company without arising the suspicions.
In these situations Blackhawk Intelligence operatives will ascertain the best way to infiltrate the target’s operating environment, which could be one of many places the target works or visits, or where our team suspects the illicit activity is taking place.
How do we conduct covert visits?
Carefully! All our operatives are specially trained. The nature of our covert investigations may require working in close proximity to criminals, or situations where there are very real dangers for our operatives. To help minimise this risk all our operatives have been drawn from military and civilian police forces, where they have been trained in covert surveillance and intelligence gathering techniques.
For many investigations though, it may simply require an operative to pose as a client, colleague or some other disguise that facilitates close proximity to where the illicit activity is taking place to permit the use of covert surveillance equipment.
If you suspect that a vehicle or equipment is being used contrary to its purpose, using covert tracking equipment may reveal what is actually going on.
Intelligence gathering and admissibility
The techniques we use have to be employed carefully and comply fully with the law in the countries we operate. For instance, in the UK, where ‘covert human intelligence sources’ (CHIS) are used, we have to be mindful of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). It’s important in this respect to carefully think through the impact the covert investigation may have on human rights.
All of intelligence gathering activities are designed around obtaining informational intelligence, where gathered from passive or proactive sources, is lawfully obtained and admissible in a court of law.
What do our covert visits deliver?
The first commitment to our clients is that whatever we do deliver will be admissible in a court of law. Depending on the nature of the investigation, this may include:
- email transcripts
- video footage
This will be prepared as part of an overall report containing a full account of our activities and observations.