Insurance Flight

New Year Resolution, Cheating, Unfaithful Partner
Date: 19th March 2014
Detective Services: Insurance Investigations

Engaged by a leading Australian insurer to undertake standard surveillance on a client who was the recent recipient of an insurance payout [Lump Sum and Pension] due to a heart condition uncovered during his annual medical required for his Commercial Pilots license. The heart condition prevented George from continuing as a Commercial Pilot after 28 years in the industry flying national and international long haul routes.

The employer had reported to the insurer of informally hearing the recently retired employee was continuing to fly commercial aircraft and raised this as a safety concern. If George was flying in Australian skies this would be reported to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority [CASA] as de-licensed commercial or private pilot in breach of law.

The subject, George, was assigned to one of our Senior Private Investigators, Dave, with the brief to undertake surveillance of George's day to day activity, with the aim of establishing if George was continuing to be a pilot in any capacity.

The initial surveillance period failed to sight George at his property, there were no coming or goings at all. In fact our Senior Private Investigator never saw him at any expected location, event or time during the surveillance period.

Further desk top investigations into George's lifestyle uncovered interesting information. George was not working or living in Australia. At first it appeared as though George was enjoying a travelling lifestyle from social media connections. However, on a pretext call it was discovered George was working in Africa as a commercial pilot, flying in and flying out from his work site 2 weeks on & 2 weeks off. George had secured a position using his 28 years of experience as a captain flying a 747 cargo plane.

Further confirmed through social media. It wasn't the holiday style updates we were really interested in but the unique photo's of expansive African planes, sunsets and sunrises which could only be taken from the cockpit of a plane. Further posts revealed photo's of the pilot on the 'tarmac' with his new colleagues and plane.

Dave was able to secure an African mobile number that George could be contacted on. This and other desktop investigation information was shared when we invited Lebono, a colleague of the World Association of Detectives, and a Private Investigator in South Africa to join our investigation.

Working together, Dave from Australia and Lebono in various African locations were able to confirm a physical home address, ascertain his employer and through various pretext calls able to secure his working roster, resulting in Lebono placing George under physical surveillance.

At this stage of the investigation the Australian insurer was satisfied that George had not breached his payout or pension agreement, however there was a risk that George was flying in other areas of the world where reciprocal licensing agreements are in place. CASA and the insurer wanted as much information on George that could be gathered to ensure they met all their responsibilities and could report the information to their colleagues other regions.

Lebono had great results - as the last place George expected to be under surveillance was probably not only in a foreign country, but Africa! George was confident and relaxed in his new surroundings and undertook his daily activities without care, allowing good video evidence of him attending the cargo airport in his uniform and carrying his favourite flight bag, the same one we found on many social media profiles and sent through to Lebono as an example for initial identification. Having local contacts, Lebono conducted relaxed  interviews with airport employees who were able to confirm George's flight activity and share annecdotes from George's long aviation career. It was confirmed that George was flying cross country long haul routes.

Detective Services Results:
There are a number of countries that will allow commercial pilots to fly without medical examinations. Australia's stringent medical standards or even licensing requirements are not standards across the world, each country has minimum and varying standards.

At costs of over A$50,000 for the training here in Australia the dream is simply out of reach for most Africans. Therefore developing nations often don’t have experienced pilots and they're happy to accommodate those from Western countries who miss the buzz of flying and don't have the opportunity in other regions closer to home. Being a pilot isn't just a job, it's also a passion. Remember what Tom Cruise in the movie Top Gun did for Airforce recruitment?

With a comprehensive report issued back to our insurance client, who also reported to George's previous employers. George was placed on a global black list to ensure no further work or entry as a pilot to countries with reciprocal licensing standards which restricted his flight movement to a small group of counties and minimised the safety risks he was engaging in.

However it doesn't stop people taking risks with their own lives, the general public and the travelers who put their own and families lives in their hands. George chose to live in Africa without the benefits of ongoing training all to maximise his income with tax free dollars and get the buzz of flight he simply couldn't live without.

In the modern world of aviation, there are many threats and risks for airlines to manage including the safe operation of Aircraft, Aircrew, Groundcrew, ground operations, passengers and safe passages for travel during conflict.  With over 1000 commercial pilots licensed in Australia, the degree of risk and exposure an Insurance company accepts must be weighed against the commercial benefits. Understanding human behaviour and predicting outcomes is a part of the risk mitigation strategy employed by business and used in their assessments, and unlocking these human and social behaviours and applying them to real world situations give insights that help business function effectively and some days, save lives.

Whilst not always possible to remove all risk, our investigation helped the insurer and industry employers better understand risk and employees. Enabling Human Resources teams,  businesses and insurance agents and brokers in managing their business risk and learn valuable information about people and segments of the business which pose risk.

We work closely with our clients you to gather the data and build a case with solid evidence. With the benefit of having all the facts to make sound business decisions at your disposal, you can't afford not to have the facts. Call us on 1300 00 iSPY to confidentially discuss your case with one of our Senior Private Investigators.

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