It looks like Tesla CEO Elon Musk got taken for a ride when attempting to hire a private investigator. Rather than completing a due diligence in hiring an investigator, the billionaire hired a completely unvetted PI who turned out to be a convicted felon.
Here’s the headline from an October 3rd article from Buzzfeed:
So Elon got himself into some trouble for throwing out an insult at the guy who helped rescue a boys soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand. British cave diver Vern Unsworth was part of a team who helped rescue the boys. Unsworth called Elon’s attempt to help by use of a mini submarine “just a PR stunt”.
Elon got mad and called Usnworth a “Pedo Guy” because Unsworth is British and has been traveling to Thailand for the past 40 years.
Here’s what happened next. From the Buzzfeed article:
When Elon Musk publicly called a British cave rescuer who had insulted him a “pedo guy” last year, the billionaire entrepreneur had no evidence to back up his claims. And while he later apologized for the outburst, the Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO went on to hire a private investigator to dig up dirt that might support his unsubstantiated accusation.
Public records and interviews reveal that the man Musk contracted, James Howard-Higgins, stole money from his business partners and was sentenced to three years in prison for fraud. Past associates of the man described the Englishman to BuzzFeed News as a “Walter Mitty character” who repeatedly defrauded a company he cofounded despite disciplinary actions that were meant to keep him in check.
Anyone can fall victim to fraudsters, especially when a person is in an emotional state. Elon got angry because he was called-out for making an unsubstantiated claim. Whether Elon’s allegation was true or not is an entirely different discussion. The point is he went off half-cocked looking for someone to solve his problem. This was the perfect situation for a dishonest person to step in and take advantage – which is exactly what happened.
The better way to have handled the situation (aside from not making the comment in the first place) would be to quietly do some due diligence. Ensure the person being hired is professional, licensed, and with a positive record of ethical conduct.
One of the most effective and simple ways to check the reputation of a private investigator in the United States is to see if they’re a member of their state association. Every state has their own association. The one for California is the California Association of Licensed Investigators (CALI). As the name says, the associations will only accept licensed investigators. Licensing itself carries a lot of weight due to the high barrier for entry with most state licensing agencies. A CALI member in good standing, or a member of any other state association, is an excellent indicator that an investigator is trustworthy and will conduct themselves professionally.
Joel Henderson with H7 Investigative Services is a licensed private investigator with the California Association of Licensed Investigators. Click through to our consultation page to hirea professional investigator o help solve your case.