Conducting an online investigation on a corporation involves gathering information about the company from a variety of online resources. It is used for many purposes; some of which include, gaining insights to its operations, financial health, reputation and more.
A PI investigating a corporation typically follows a systematic approach to gather information, uncover potential wrongdoing, and provide valuable insights to their clients. This includes collecting publicly available information about the corporation. Researching its history, key personnel, financial records, public statements, news articles, etc…
There are several different reasons why a corporation might hire an Investigator to conduct online research. Some of the most common are listed below.
- Due Diligence: Investigations on corporations for potential investors, partners, or clients. This might involve verifying financial information, assessing the company’s reputation, investigating key executives, and uncovering any hidden risks.
- Intellectual Property Theft: Looking into cases of intellectual property theft or industrial espionage. PIs can gather evidence to identify culprits and prevent further theft.
- Competitive Intelligence: Assisting companies by gathering online information about their competitors, including market strategies, product developments, and potential vulnerabilities.
- Corporate Security Assessments: PIs might be hired to assess a corporation’s security protocols, vulnerabilities, and potential threats, helping the company improve its security measures.
- Insurance Fraud: Private investigators can assist insurance companies in investigating potential fraudulent claims made by corporations, such as property damage or liability claims.
- Litigation Support: Private investigators can provide evidence and information that supports legal cases involving corporations, such as in cases of contract disputes, intellectual property infringement, or wrongful termination.
Online Resources to Use
We use several online resources, but the few mentioned below are worth mentioning. Like any other deep web dive, each site potentially offers breadcrumbs that can be used in your investigation.
Open Corporates (https://opencorporates.com ) Collects and aggregates data from various public sources, such as company registers, government records, and other official documents. The platform then organizes and presents this data in a standardized format, making it easier to search and analyze. Users can access information about a company’s legal status, ownership, financial history, and more.
Ripoffreport (https: ripoffreport.com) is a consumer complaint website that allows individuals to post complaints and reviews about businesses, products, and services.
Glass Door (https://www.glassdoor.com) This site is a job and recruiting website that allows employees and former employees to anonymously review companies and their management, provide salary information, and share insights about the interview process.
LittleSis (https://littlesis.org/) This site is used for tracking and researching the connections and relationships among powerful individuals, organizations, and corporations in the United States. It allows users to create and access profiles of influential people, companies, politicians, and non-profit organizations. These profiles include information on their affiliations, board memberships, political contributions, financial interests, and other relevant data.
Crunchbase (https://crunchbase.com) is a platform that provides information about companies and startups, including their funding, key personnel, products or services, and other relevant business details.
Corporate Case Study
We were hired recently to conduct several deep web scans on companies and their C-Suite executives. The Investigator worked with a client who was about to do some major business with three businesses and wanted to know everything about them before jumping into a business relationship. When completed, one could get an excellent picture of the overall reputation of the companies. The group of companies were business to consumer, so there were a lot of online reviews from various sites from Amazon to Yelp. Social media played a significant role. Newspaper articles published online were included as well as company generated press releases. As you can imagine, it was a large report.
Don’t forget About the Employees
The next step in our corporate case study was to identify online profiles and information on key executives in each organization. Why was this important? By conducting this research, it revealed how the employees felt about working for the company. It also ruled out any social media violations in the workplace. Our research included looking for any of the following areas of interest.
Sharing Confidential Information: Posting sensitive company information, trade secrets, financial data, or proprietary information on social media platforms without authorization.
Harassment and Bullying: Using social media to target, harass, or bully colleagues, supervisors, or other individuals within or outside the organization.
Discriminatory Remarks: Making discriminatory comments, including those related to race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or other protected characteristics, which can create a hostile work environment.
Defamation and Libel: Making false or damaging statements about the company, coworkers, or management that could harm their reputation or result in legal consequences.
Negative Publicity: Sharing negative opinions, complaints, or criticism about the company, products, or services, which could potentially harm the company’s image or business relationships.
It always amazes me what people will post online. Even in the age of increased privacy awareness, people get carried away sometimes with the personal information they post online. It may have been posted years ago but can come back to haunt them in an investigation.