It's a funny, dirty little job!
July 13, 2010 6:19 AM   Subscribe

Do insurance investigators like Rene Russo/Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair or Timothy Hutton on the Leverage show really exist in real life? I'm talking about people investigating high end theft as opposed to investigators working on medical fraud or arson. In the news, you really only see insurance investigators dealing with these smaller cases, with the police and FBI (and Interpol, I guess) working on big heists.
posted by bluefly to Work & Money (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Sortof - listen to this radio show about the 1990 heist from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for plenty of detail.

Previously on the blue.
posted by atbash at 6:52 AM on July 13, 2010

Specifically re: ISG theft, check out the movie Stolen (available to watch instantly on Netflix, I believe) for Harold Smith, who was quite a character.
posted by Madamina at 7:16 AM on July 13, 2010

Here's an interesting piece on a guy named Bob Wittman, who does just that.
posted by banwa at 7:18 AM on July 13, 2010

Here's an interesting piece on a guy named Bob Wittman, who does just that.

Yeah, he was interviewed on NPR I think yesterday talking about how he used to work for the FBI but then retired to go into business for himself, mostly working for insurance companies. The big deal with the FBI is that they only go after situations in which a real crime has been committed and in a lot of insurance cases, you're more talking about fraud or other things that don't get the FBI going. Wittman said he can investigate a lot more now, and do less paperwork. His new book which he was promoting, is called Priceless.
posted by jessamyn at 7:47 AM on July 13, 2010

This npr piece is about a former FBI agent who did that job. Towards the end, he discusses how he now does the same thing privately for insurance companies.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:50 AM on July 13, 2010

posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:51 AM on July 13, 2010

and Interpol, I guess

Just to clear up a misconception from TV and films (one that is all too common, unfortunately). Interpol does not investigate anything as such. It's not an 'International FBI' as it's often portrayed in fiction. Interpol does not have independent agents that make arrests; it's a comparatively small office (annual budget ~$59 million, compare to FBI's $6.4 billion) that helps coordinate investigations by the police forces of member countries.

posted by jedicus at 8:22 AM on July 13, 2010

Response by poster: Funny, that that NPR interview just happened! I must have glanced at review for his book and forgotten about it, but some part of my brain half remembered it, so I asked this question.

I'm curious if there are people in the private sector investigating other kinds of high end crime besides fine art -- corporate theft (stealing product secrets -- this figures heavily on the Hutton show), etc? Or is that only on TV?

Thanks for the clarification on Interpol. I wasn't sure myself, and as you can see, I'm heavily influenced by fiction :).
posted by bluefly at 9:22 AM on July 13, 2010

« Older Is it possible to make knox gelatin stay a gel in...   |   To be used only for good. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.