Kate Warne-First Female P.I. in the United States
Kate Warne, first female private investigator hired in the US. This image has been debated on whether or not it is Kate Warne dressed as a male. Unfortunately, there are few portraits of Warne, let alone confirmed: However, that only adds to her legacy as a master of disguise and covert detective.
Kate Warne: First Female PI and Master of Disguise
In 1856, the now famous Pinkerton detective agency in Chicago, had a woman walk in inquiring on what Alan Pinkerton first thought to be for the secretary position. He described her as a "commanding person, with clear cut, expressive features...a slender, brown-haired woman, graceful in her movements and self-possessed. Her features, although not what could be called handsome, were decidedly of an intellectual cast... her face was honest, which would cause one in distress instinctly [sic] to select her as a confidante."
Kate Warne, a widow from New York, came in to the Pinkerton Agency to respond to the detective position that was advertised in the local paper. Alan Pinkerton was surprised at her inquiry; It was not custom for women to work as private eyes, but he was impressed by her argument: "[Women are] most useful in worming out secrets in many places which would be impossible for a male detective." She argued that women can befriend the wives and girlfriends of suspected criminals, since men love to brag when they are around women who encourage them. Warne added that women are observant and have an eye for detail. Pinkerton hired her as a private eye and despite protests from his brother who was also his business partner, Alan never regretted his decision.
Warne was a master of disguise: From portraying herself as a fortune teller to lure suspects into telling her their secrets, rich society matrons, to changing her Northern mannerisms into a Southern accent to play the role of a "flirty Southern belle" from Mongomery, Alabama, in the Pinkerton National Detective Agency's paramount case: The Baltimore Plot. Through Warne's disguise and ability to convincingly take on Southern mannerisms, she was able to infiltrate a ring of Southern sympathizers in Maryland and gather the details of a plan to assassinate then president-elect Abraham Lincoln on his way to the inauguration. Through Pinkerton and Warne, she was able to secure Lincoln and safely transport him to the inauguration by smuggling him through a train car, passing through Baltimore undetected. Lincoln continued to use Pinkerton and Warne through the Civil War to gather covert intelligence. In 1860, Pinkerton started a "Female Detective Bureau", hiring more female detectives, led by Kate Warne. This was very progressive at the time, as women were not allowed to join the police force until 1891 nor become investigators until 1903.
She continued to serve until 1868, when she died from a sudden illness. She is buried at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago in the Pinkerton Family Plot. In March of 1868, a memoriam was written in the Democratic Enquirer on Warne's life as a private detective: "Up to the time of her death, her whole life had been devoted to the service into which she had entered in her younger years. She was undoubtedly the best female detective in America, if not the world."
If You are Recently Widowed or Divorced and Are Online Dating, Your Match Could be a Scammer
Losing a partner or going through a divorce can be a devastating and exhausting ordeal. As time passes and the dust settles, you may be considering (or already have started) online dating. You want to try to fill the void left by your previous spouse with the connection with another partner. Online dating can be a valuable option, allowing you to test the waters from the comfort of your home or phone, but unfortunately, there are those that prey on those in your situation, especially if you are widowed.
Dating scams happen more often than you think
There has been a recent uptick in cases I've received with stories that are similar to the point of being uncanny: Client is widowed, (or divorced) and in their lonely state, try online dating. They check the "widowed' or "divorced" box on their dating profile and begin to feel out for matches. Someone contacts them, they kick it off, and things move fast. The match is usually foreign, which adds to the allure. The match is also widowed or divorced and the clients feel connected through their hardships. The match sends them songs, love poems, little "thinking of you" mementos. Everything seems to be going well, but then the match discusses devastating situations that have happened in their lives. They don't know how they are going to get by without extra financial support. They ask to borrow money from you; The big job they were boasting about before will pick up, they swear they'll pay you back. The clients feel for them: after all, they've been in tough situations themselves. The client sends off money, usually a very large sum, through a wire transfer, such as Western Union. Once everything is said and done, the match goes ghost. Stops replying to messages, phone calls, emails, Skype calls. Now they are not only left heartbroken but at a loss of a huge amount of capital. They come to us to try to find the scammer, to try to get their money back, and stop them so this doesn't happen to someone else.
Why do online dating scams happen?
To put it simply: money. Widows usually receive an inheritance and/or insurance payout from the deceased spouse. Even those who are divorced can be targets, despite many who have to pay for legal services, they can still get a big divorce settlement. Combine that with people who are in this type of situation are emotionally devastated and vulnerable, scammers have the perfect target to siphon money. These scammers specifically look for profiles that are listed as "widowed" or "divorced" and will be the ones to message you first.
Warning Signs that your match is a scammer
Doesn't answer calls, relies on text.
Calls repeatedly go to voicemail or endlessly ring. Many scammers use apps or services to redirect several numbers (or burner numbers) back to their main phone to avoid giving out their real phone number. Scammers prefer to maintain contact through text or email.
Vague or "parroted" answers.
Any answers seem generic or to a script. "Parroted" answers happen when the match asks a question, you answer, and you get an answer that would amount to "me too." While having a lot in common can be a sign of a good match, if almost every question or topic that comes up you both agree upon, they may be scamming you by manipulating you in establishing a connection. These answers may also come across as inconsistent with their profile or other social media profiles.
The topic of money.
Some boast about their big jobs to try to attract you to their wealth. If they do, all too conveniently they lose their job or some other devastating event happens where they cannot pay the bills anymore. They ask if they can "borrow" some money to cover unforeseen expenses. These expenses can include rent, medical expenses for themselves or a loved one, money lost from theft or a failing business, or travel expenses to come to see you. These payments can be requested by them in the form of a wire transfer, transfer of assets, money order, prepaid card, gift cards, or e-currency. Don't believe that by paying them once that it will stop: scammers will only get more aggressive and come up with more stories to keep the cash flowing from you. Scammers will even resort to extortion over any compromising content you may have shared with them. (Also known as revenge porn or "sextortion")
Says "I love you" or "you're my soulmate" in a very short period of time, without having met you in person. This can happen within just a few emails or message exchanges. As mentioned earlier, they prefer to move you over to maintaining contact through a chat app or email to avoid being detected by online dating websites, who have protections in place in their message boxes.
Master of flattery.
Many scammers love to use poetry and love songs and send them over to you as a way to win you over. Back to the last point of moving quickly, they will shower you with flattery very early on even when they barely know you.
Difficulty meeting in person.
If your relationship is long-distance, scammers use that to their advantage as to why they can't meet. Even if you travel to where they claim to live, they always come up with an excuse for why they can't get together with you.
Guilt trip or "ghosting."
If you decline to "lend" money or suspect they are not what they seem, the scammer can become irate and make you feel guilty for accusing them or by not giving money. This usually results in them fabricating another situation that requires money. If you stand your ground on not giving money or you do send money to them, the scammer disappears, known as "ghosting", by no longer contacting you and replying to any messages or calls.
Prevent yourself from being scammed
Overall, the best thing to practice is the old adage: If it's too good to be true, it probably is. Don't share personal or compromising photos or videos, which can be used as blackmail by scammers. Use Google Image Search to help confirm that the pictures they send or show in their profile are who they say they are and not a catfish account. (But be warned: basic Google Search and People Search services may not be enough or accurate.) Avoid giving out any personal information, (including credit card numbers, passwords, and addresses) and never give money to someone you met online. If you agree to meet in person, let a close friend or family know, and always meet in a public area.
If you are a victim of a dating scam
If you are a victim of a dating scam, you need to do the following:
1. Contact your bank as soon as possible and notify them that you are a victim of a scam.
Change any bank information that was given to the scammer and see if there is any way the money can be traced, blocked, or returned to you. Unfortunately, there is a very high probability you will not get your money back, especially if it was done through a Western Union or e-currency.
2. Do not accept any offers for help by online recovery "services."
Scammers like to double-dip: They can do a recovery scam, by claiming to be a police officer or legal professional, promising to help you recover the money and put the scammer in jail. They won't ask for money until after they "claim" to have arrested the scammer.
3. Do not accept any "repayment" directly from the scammer
It is very likely that money has been taken from other victims, which would involve you in a money-laundering scheme.
4. You can contact the police, but if the scammer is located in another state or another country, there is very little they can do.
Hire a private investigator to locate the scammer so you can hand the information to the proper authorities. (such as the FBI, who are unlikely to work with you unless you have a concrete lead on the scammer. Note that if the scammer is located internationally, unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to get your money back.)
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The 4 Most Common Myths of Working as a Private Investigator
It’s safe to say that many of us have read or watched the likes of Sherlock Holmes, CSI, or Magnum P.I. and become starry-eyed towards the private investigation profession. New investigators enter the field expecting car chases, gun fights, and heart-stopping action. But once they have been in the industry, many become burned out or disheartened to see that it’s not what they thought private investigation would be. As someone who is a licensed private investigator, I’ll try to bring you down slowly.
Myth 1: We're just stalking people's spouses/exes
Surveillance is the most well-known service that private investigators provide, with the stereotype that we’re hiding out behind alleys and street corners in a trench coat, following your cheating partner or spouse. While there are still private investigators who specialize in doing infidelity cases, many private investigators (including myself) have moved away from being “cheater chasers.” Investigations are moving to the digital realm: with services including social media investigations, computer and phone forensics, and data acquisition. With that said, surveillance is still a valuable service and strategy: for example, using surveillance as a method in investigating and verifying a disability claim for a business or insurance company. As for being “stalkers”, keep in mind that a licensed and insured investigator knows how to follow the proper legal procedures that differentiate “surveillance” from “stalking.” (For example, a P.I. cannot illegally enter a property, home, or building, AKA breaking and entering. PINow has an excellent general guide on what private investigators can and cannot do.)
Myth 2: P.I.s only uses Google to find people (AKA: "I could do it myself with a little extra effort!")
I have had countless cases come in with this mentality. When we do background checks or missing person/asset searches, we are not just Googling it. Any Private Investigator worth their salt are licensed professionals who have access to top-quality legal documentation and databases that are not available to the public and restricted to licensed private investigators. Period. We have numerous posts discussing why using online databases not only are not comprehensive, but inaccurate and not kept up-to-date. With that said, even with our databases, getting a full comprehensive report of information on an individual is not going to be achieved just by entering a name and state into a database search. We cross-check information and utilize various resources and strategies, (depending on the case, can include fieldwork such as surveillance and interviewing neighbors) which is not something you can achieve with just a Google search or a cheap online database search service.
Myth 3: Private Investigation is always exciting
Sorry kids, it’s (usually) not like the movies. Don’t get me wrong, I have had cases that have been exciting and taken twists and turns that I never anticipated or could have ever imagined. But to be honest, you will be spending the majority of your time in the office or a surveillance vehicle. To succeed in this field, it’s not just enough to be skilled in the physical work; You need to know how to gather intelligence, assess multiple streams of information, (most of which is digital) write top-notch comprehensive reports, (Reports are no joke and where you will easily spend most of your time. Regardless of what the client does with a report, it must be of a quality that is admissible in court) and conduct intake interviews.
Myth 4: We'll share our war stories with you
As I mentioned in the last myth, our work can get exciting and we do get cases that move in directions we never expected to go from the start. However, don't expect us to share the details with the world. Legitimate private investigators can only succeed by operating on strict confidentiality practices on all cases to protect them and their clients. Failure to maintain confidentiality not only is unethical, but can put our licenses on the line. Which means no, we are not going to hash out the latest cases with you.
Matthew Seifer is the Lead Licensed Private Investigator at Radius Investigations, Registered Armed Guard, and NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services Certified Instructor. Seifer is a US Army veteran with over 26 years experience in the private sector. Matthew's specializes in corporate due diligence, TSCM bug sweeps, security services and assessments, and digital forensics
Radius Investigations offers comprehensive background checks for individuals nationwide and worldwide. Our expert private investigators have the resources and know-how to gather accurate and verified information
What information do I need to conduct a background check on someone?
Any information you have on someone will help us in our research. More information is better, but we understand that you may not have all the details. (which is usually why you are doing a background check in the first place!) Here are some common pieces of information we will ask for. Keep in mind this list is not exclusive, and just because you may not know the answer to items on this list, does not mean we can't perform a background check:
- First and Last Name (Ideally a middle name as well if they have a common name)
- State where they were born
- Last known address or state of residence
- Date of Birth
- Date of Death (if applicable. We usually encounter this in estate cases or in clients who want to research their family tree)
- Name of parents or siblings
- Name of Spouse
- Last known employer and address of employer
Do I need to be a company or business to conduct a background check?
Radius Investigations offers complete personal background investigation services that do not require you to be a hiring manager or business. Individual clients can inquire for personal background checks on a person of interest.
Why do I need a personal background check?
Proper personal background checks are vital tools that can be used for situations such as legal cases, dating/relationships, tenants, or checking individuals you hire. (eg. nannies, caretakers, home care services, house cleaners, freelancers) Hiring a private investigator to conduct a background investigation can bring peace of mind, safety, and confidence that those you work or live with have integrity.
Can I do a background check on myself?
Our background check can be performed on any individual, including the client themselves. Requesting a background check on yourself is an excellent resource in verifying that your personal, financial, criminal, and legal information is correct. Inconsistencies or inaccurate information in a background check is a serious concern that can affect employment and applications for financial or legal affairs.
How can I obtain a background check?
Our Long Island and NYC private investigators can provide a comprehensive background check on a person of interest. Our team works around the world to find the best and most accurate information for our clients. We work with you in obtaining the information you need, whether it is educational, employment, criminal, legal, or financial records.