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Kevin Chow: Super Sleuth

Josh Bargar | November 5, 2019

One of the many great perks we have at IP Services (IPS) is working with a close-knit team of individuals that feels more like family than a group of co-workers. We recently embarked on a journey to get to know the IPS Investigations team a little better and are happy to share what we learned. Let us introduce you to one of our seasoned investigators, Kevin Chow.

Kevin is a Licensed P.I. specializing in Brand Protection investigations. He has been working with IPS for nearly five years. Speaking from personal experience, he’s a true go-to guy.

A Typical Day

According to Kevin, a typical day at the office is heavily dependent on client activity. “It can range from a fast-paced flurry of test purchasing and report writing to proactively trawling for suspicious offers of our client’s products and conducting investigative research.” Incoming client requests determine what we will be doing on any given day. Our workload can be challenging – a bit like a volatile stock market with lots of dips and spikes.

Challenges

One specific challenge that Kevin faces is breaking the ice with prospective targets to lure them into communication. Some targets are completely non-responsive and stonewall Kevin, causing him to get creative. He finds ways to engage with suspicious sellers by pre-texting and building trust. This entices apprehensive sellers to engage, allowing Kevin to complete the test purchases.

Kevin encounters other challenges such as handling unplanned test purchase waves that include a large volume of requests. Logistically, they’re hard to predict and plan for. “We like to stay busy, but it can be difficult to get the necessary resources in place to complete a high volume of purchases in a short time frame without any advanced notice.” Kevin is right. It’s hard to predict an influx of client requests, so we try to keep our resources at full capacity at all times. But every once in a while, we experience a significant surge that wipes out our undercover payment accounts. So we must replenish them out of sync in order to maintain SLA and complete the purchases on time.

Observations

When asked what the craziest/weirdest thing he encountered while conducting a test purchase, Kevin replied “Having been a police officer in the past, I haven’t seen anything crazy or weird, comparatively speaking.”  As a former Law Enforcement Officer with many years of experience, he is rarely taken aback. He does not find targets’ foul language or crudity shocking or troubling. Instead, he leverages these experiences to learn about the target’s behavior and better understand what makes them tick.

During his time at IPS, he has noticed that “fraudsters will go to great lengths to be successful. If one of their avenues get compromised, they’ll just come up with new ways to deceive and defraud.” With several hundred investigations under his belt, Kevin uses his honed computer skills to uncover those new avenues and find the targets. 

Impact of Technology

When asked how technology has impacted his ability to investigate, Kevin quickly replied, “For most of our work, it’s made it easier. Easier to stay anonymous and easier to appear to be a regular consumer. And when required, much easier to investigate/research a target.” However, even with all of the advances in technology, the human element will always be crucial to successful investigations.

Kevin couldn’t agree more. When asked about the value human review adds to an investigation, he was surprised. “‘Human review,’ as opposed to what? Who or what else would be doing an investigation? A robot?” While technology offers automation and machine learning, it will never be a substitute for good old-fashioned gut feeling, intuition and gumshoe work. 


On a parting note, Kevin advises, “Be professional, be consistent, have great attention to detail and don’t be lazy. Do your job the right way, not half way. I think the ‘why’ is obvious.”

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Josh Bargar

Josh Bargar

Josh Bargar is a seasoned investigator who uses his talents to put away the bad guys. Over a decade ago, he graduated with a B.A. in Criminal Justice and was on-boarded at IPS as a fraud prevention analyst. Josh decided to move into the realm of brand protection where he continues to fight online crime and recently received his Master's in Project Management. His taco making skills are also outstanding.