I have a friend named Kris. Kris spent most of his professional life as a DJ—the radio kind, not the ecstasy-riddled rave kind. Years ago, Kris was offered two passes to an exclusive Prince concert. Kris accepted and invited a blind date with a penchant for partying like it was 1999. Upon arrival at the event, Kris was immediately mistaken for Kenny G. (That’s much funnier if you know Kris.) He and his companion were ushered to a V.I.P. area where they enjoyed dinner, drinks, and the show. After, Kris, a.k.a. Kenny G, was invited to meet Prince. He feigned illness and fled the scene.

I have another friend named Danny. Coincidentally, Danny worked with Kris at a local television station in the early 90s. That fact has zero relevance to this blog, but I thought it made for an interesting aside. Regardless, Danny transitioned from advertising account rep to claims manager. He worked for a national insurance company that was looking for someone to manage high-profile claims and field the subsequent angry and, at times, aggressive communications from claimants. So Danny accepted his role and occasionally updated me with especially interesting assignments.

In one instance, Danny had a file involving a doctor who claimed he could no longer drive due to anxiety. As such, he could not get to work and could not continue his practice. Danny enlisted a risk mitigation company that promptly obtained a week’s worth of video of the claimant driving around town.

One problem.

The investigator filmed the claimant’s brother who just happened to be staying with the claimant during the surveillance period.

Unfortunately, whoever was supplying Danny with files neglected to provide Danny with photos that were actually in the insurance company’s possession. As such, Danny did not supply his vendor with said photos. His company wasted thousands of dollars and uncovered no damaging evidence.

So what do the tales of Kris and Danny have in common? Mistakes can be made by anyone, from a pop star’s security guard to a seasoned field investigator.

At Ethos, we consistently advise our clients to provide as much information as possible when assigning surveillance work. While this may seem like you’re doing our job for us, we’re honestly asking for your benefit.

Danny’s doctor’s brother was only a few years younger than the claimant and shared similar genetic characteristics. Danny’s company did not allow pretexting, so the investigator was armed only with a residential address and a minimal physical description. Oftentimes, this information is sufficient. However, it clearly leaves room for error. In Danny’s doctor’s case, this error was expensive.

So please, remember these stories the next time you assign surveillance. Help us help you, and you’ll be singing “Purple Rain” all the way to the bank.