Yesterday, Reuters published an article that caught my eye. It was about a “private investigator” hired by Uber who “fraudulently sought information about its opponents in an antitrust case.”
In actuality, it was the New York Post’s salacious headline that really caught my eye: “Judge Probes Whether Uber’s Private Eye Lied to Dig up Dirt.”
The so-called private investigator reportedly called the colleagues of the attorney’s for opposing counsel and, according to the judge, “falsely stated that he was compiling a profile of up-and-coming labor lawyers in the United States.”
The company Uber used is named Ergo – a “business intelligence” firm based in New York. According to the New York Department of State’s Division of Licensing Services, however, Ergo is not a licensed private investigator at all. The reputation of private investigators pretty much sucks already and more than likely doesn’t need a non-licensed business intelligence firm’s help, but I digress.
The tactic used by Ergo is a classic example of pretexting – assuming a purpose or an appearance in order to cloak one’s real intentions. In certain cases, pretexting is illegal. In the U.S., it is illegal to obtain financial information from consumers or financial institutions using pretext.
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