• 10 Ways a Private Investigator Could Have Helped a Member of The Office

  • There are some spoilers on this article, read at your own risk! 

    The office was recently removed from Netflix, and honestly, I do not know how I feel about that. I feel like I grew up with the Office from season one, and then I kept on growing as I re-watched all the episodes through the pandemic. But, since I work with private investigators on the daily basis, I couldn’t help but notice that the Office was full of violations, potential lawsuits, and even disasters that could have made private investigators very wealthy.

    Private Investigators do a LOT of things, they do more than cheating spouses and child custody. They work with the general public, corporations, attorneys, and even government offices. They investigate murders, fraud, theft, drug use, missing persons, white collar crimes – Pink Collar Crimes – financial crimes, and more. The office was full of these types of crimes – from Meredith’s Coupons to Angela’s Dead Cat.

    I watched every episode of the Office to compile the top 10 episodes (in my opinion) where a private investigator could have helped solved problems from The Office, and probably help protect some people who were in clear danger. Cough Cough… Creed Bratton… let’s start with him.

    Creed’s True Identity

    It took 9 seasons for us to figure out that Creed was a former member of band called The Grass Roots and that police were looking for him in connection with dealing drugs, trafficking endangered animal meats, stealing LSD from the military, and several other crimes. I mean, he killed someone on Halloween!

    We all knew something was wrong, but we didn’t know how bad it was. Many people believed he was the Scranton Strangler (Still believe that one), but one thing is for sure, we don’t know WHO he really is. He applied for a job out of the blue, and bam… 9 years of employment and evading arrest.

    Dunder Mifflin was a big company that was publicly traded on the New York’s Stock Exchange. It was later acquired by Sabre, and finally by David Wallace. From the looks of it, no one thought about running a background check on any of the employees. A simple background check could have revealed inconsistencies with Creed’s background. Guys… it’s like $100 to run a background check.

    Who smoked the Joint in the Parking lot?

    This was a mess. Not only was Dwight investigating something that more than likely had no legal standing in court, but he failed to run the investigation through the proper channels – this would fall on Toby’s responsibility since he is the Human Resources Representative.

    An employee at Dwight’s level (at the time) didn’t have the power to hire a private investigator, but if he did, he could have hired an investigator to conduct random drug test.

    Again, most companies wouldn’t launch a full-blown investigation, but if they did, there are companies like VICTIG which conduct employment screening and drug testing. This would have been a lot more efficient and effective than asking Carlos if he ever pooped out a balloon.

    When Michael got lost in Season 7

    This one was interesting because it actually does work like that – to an extent. If you remember the episode (Season 7; Episode 15 – The Search) Dwight, Erin, and Holly were trying to track down Michael based on how Michael would have thought.

    Private Investigators start with the same mentality – if you left intentionally: WHY did you do it and WHERE would you go? Then, they will try to figure out HOW you would have done it.

    If you went missing, a private investigator would have started at the last known location where you were seen. From there, they’ll track down all possible directions of travel and document the security cameras. At the same time, they would probably be running license plate scanners (assuming Michael was traveling by car), conduct database checks (assuming he was missing for more than a couple of weeks), checked social media platforms, and finally conduct interviews with different people. A company light Bright Star Investigations has a good article on how they track down missing people.

    Who made the obscene watermark?

    For the most part, a private investigator would only get involved if the [incident] continues to happen back to back. Most companies have product tracking and quality control. They know who was working where, at what times, and even what machine produced the product.

    Simply going back to the paper mill company and running the Box’s Bar Code could have given them some insight into what went wrong.

    I’m fairly sure Debbie Brown would not have gotten fired without a thorough investigation. The private investigator would not have worked with Dunder Mifflin, instead, they would have worked with the papermill company to track down the possible offender. Still, easy to track, and Debbie Brown would have kept her job….

    Who was the felon?

    I’ll cut this one short – Can a private investigator track down criminal records? Yes. Would it matter? It shouldn’t – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prohibits using arrests as a basis for employment decisions due to the fact that such policies often lead to discrimination against ethnic and racial minorities, who are more likely to be arrested. Also, an arrest is not proof that criminal activity actually occurred since a defendant is “innocent until proven guilty.” You can learn more here – Can you get a job with a criminal record.

    So, could a private investigator help figure out who the Felon was? Yes. But this episode was one of those episodes that would have gotten the attention of a few attorneys if it happened in real life.

    Prison Mike could have turned into a real character outside of Hollywood!

    Darry’s Suspicious Accident

    This is a classic case of Worker’s Compensation Fraud – most investigators work in this type of field. This happens more often than you would think. Insurance fraud is estimated at more than $40 Billion per year – that’s the equivalent of $700 per year in premiums to the average U.S. Family.

    Most people don’t know this, but insurance companies aren’t rich. They simply use money from one person to pay for the benefits of another. That’s why they fight so hard to lower insurance fraud and save money.

    A private investigator would have conducted an An AOE/COE Investigation (Arising Out of Employment / Course of Employment). This is a workers’ compensation investigation to determine the facts surrounding an alleged injury to a worker on the job.

    They would have pulled the Warehouse Camera Video, they would have interviewed the other employees in the warehouse, and they would have taken a recorded statement from Daryl. Once all of that was complete, they would have conducted surveillance for several days at a time to determine if Daryl was exaggerating the injury.

    Simple. Send it to an insurance investigator and let them handle the dirty work.

    Stanley’s Affair

    Who could forge this one! This is what most people think of when they hear Private Investigator. Granted, a private investigator would probably be working with Teri and not with a member of the office, but they could have pieced this together. Surprisingly, most people get caught cheating when they open their mouth. They’ll brag, talk about it, or tell their “friends” who in turn tell other people.

    This investigation would have been pretty easy to solve. Most investigators recommend to conduct investigations when your partner feels like they’re going to be alone for a while. That’s why Stanley was having an affair while Teri was out at a designer’s conference. It’s easier to get away with an affair when your partner is out of town.

    Now, Stanley’s mistake was going to a club in the same town. I’m not going to go into detail about how private investigators can figure this out, but Closure Investigative Agency has a great article on the major signs that your partner is having an affair.

    Michael’s Cheating Girlfriend

    Season 6 started with an affair and almost ended with another one. In episode 24 of Season 6, Michael thought his girlfriend was having affair. It turned out that Michael was actually “the other man” since his girlfriend was married.

    This whole episode could have been solved by a private investigator in 15 minutes or less. The investigator could have conducted a background check on the “girlfriend” and quickly discovered that she was married. Then, they would have verified the records with the court house, and lastly confirmed their suspicion through Social Media.

    This kind of stuff happens all the time. Look, if you don’t want to be in a similar situation as Michael – run an Online Dating background check. They’re cheap! Checkout this Online Dating Background Investigator.

    Erin’s Birth Parents

    This one was sweet. It’s also something that’s relatively sensitive. Private Investigators CAN track down your birth parents. Rachel Davis is a private investigator out of Joplin Missouri and is the founder of New Hope Investigations. She helps Connect biological Families and Adoptive Children together.

    She states that: Due to the sensitive nature of these investigations, Rachele’ has a very strict policy that when she finds a birth parent or adoptee, she only discloses permissible information.  This sometimes means the subject of the investigation doesn’t want to be contacted at all, only wants limited communication, or needs some time to simply process the situation.

    Assuming that Erin was trying to track down her family, a private investigator could have helped her find peace of mind.

    Ryan’s Fraud

    Ryan mislead investors – which is fraud. A private investigator was probably involved in cracking down his fraud. Most corporations work with specialized private investigators called Certified Fraud Examiners . These investigators specialize in corporate fraud. So, a company like Dunder Mifflin would have hired a certified fraud examiner, or a financial examiner, to try and determine if there was some sort of fraud going on after their numbers stopped adding up.

    Companies and Investigators like Brian Willingham from Diligentia Group help crack down these types of fraudsters. Brian says “If they called us first, Bernie would have never made off.” So I’m sure Ryan would have been an easy target for a specialist like him.

    There are a ton of other episodes that I didn’t cover, just about every episode from The Office had some sort of violation, crime, or fire-able offense. But I think we’d need several articles to cover them all.

    Looking back at all 9 seasons of the Office, I’m kind of glad they didn’t have an investigator on staff. You know those movies that could have ended in the first 5 minutes had they done something differently? Most of these episodes could have ended a lot quicker if they had picked up the phone and called a local investigator.


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