Using covert tools to gather intelligence

James Teague talks about how OSINT Investigations provides individuals and organization with the information to make sound decisions

James Teague is president of OSINT Investigations, based in Calgary.

James Teague
James Teague

What is OSINT Investigations and what does it do?

Teague: OSINT Investigations is a full-service private investigation firm. Our office is located in Calgary, but we do investigations all across Alberta and into B.C. as well.

We do everything from insurance investigations to infidelity to corporate. If a person or organization needs information to make a sound decision on something, that’s what we provide.

We have two specialties: social media investigations and covert surveillance. Social media investigations can be very extensive and provide a great deal of information about a person or business. Covert surveillance is just that, we’re not seen but we’re seeing what’s going on. In a child custody case for instance, we see how a spouse is with a child when the other parent is not there. Who the child is exposed to, is there drinking going on, etc. It’s all on video so there’s nothing left to opinion or speculation.

Where did the name come from and what’s its significance?

Teague: OSINT stands for Open Source Intelligence and it is part of the intelligence community’s techniques used in investigations. The reason for the name is that is all we did in the beginning. There is such a vast amount of data online about people (put there by the people we’re investigating), we didn’t need to do much else.

Our clients wanted a one-stop shop for everything so that’s when we started to broaden our scope of service to include surveillance. We’re part of a global group of intelligence people so, yes, we know people in the three-letter companies.

Why did you get into this line of work?

Teague: I started working in the insurance industry as an adjuster (the only non-police owned PI firm anywhere) and was hiring PIs to do work for me. I was then promoted to a division called SIU, which stands for special investigative unit. I was investigating everything from stolen vehicles to arson to bodily injury files. It was something that intrigued me and I always wanted to dig until I found the truth.

Prior to that I was in the information technology world, so I started to blend the two careers together. It wasn’t something anyone else was doing and so I thought I would take a chance and start my own firm. It has been over five years now and the firm is growing all the time. It was the best decision of my life.

Can you tell me about your unmanned surveillance vehicle?

Teague: Well, not really. Haha. I will do my best to tell you what they are without telling you too much!

The reason behind them was efficiency. I saw how much time and money was wasted doing traditional surveillance. Unless you know a person’s habits and patterns of behaviour, you never know when to be sitting there waiting for them to leave their house or business. The only way to do that before was to put a person there 24 hours a day. You can imagine how expensive that would be, so I came up with the idea of an unmanned surveillance vehicle.

It’s an ordinary-looking vehicle with a very sophisticated surveillance camera system in it. We can remotely operate and view the camera from our office live. It records 24 hours a day for up to a week. With that we are able to establish a pattern of behaviour, a schedule if you will for manned or physical surveillance to follow.

The vehicles are charged out at a fraction of what it would cost to have a person sit there that long. They have proven to be a huge asset to us and our clients! They have often saved our clients thousands of dollars in manned physical surveillance.

As our logo indicates, it is all part of the circle of an investigation.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received about being an entrepreneur?

Teague: That’s an easy one. If you want to grow a business more than just being a contractor to someone you need to hire and hire soon. You can’t do it all and if you try, you will either burn out or you will not provide the level of service that your clients have come to expect.

It’s scary at first to bring someone on because you want to ensure your business runs the way you have always done it. You’re giving up a bit of that control. With the right people in place though, you can focus on your business and stop working in your business.

Interviewed by Mario Toneguzzi, a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary.

© Troy Media

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