In the summer of 2015, I received quite a few calls and emails about a new PI company called Trustify. The business model was essentially supposed to be Uber for private investigation.
The creator of this company was Daniel Boice, a self-proclaimed entrepreneur and tech mogul. On Thursday, December 3, 2020, Boice pleaded guilty in federal court to wire and securities fraud.
Let’s jump back before we get to the end.
In 2015, many of my colleagues in the private investigative industry were concerned that Trustify would/could cripple their businesses. Boice was charging $67/hour to the consumer to conduct surveillance or other assignments. Trustify kept $37, leaving the PI with $30. There were no minimum hours, leaving the investigator to have a possible assignment for one hour. (All top-echelon private investigators work in four-hour minimums.)
Boice claimed to have signed on over 2,000 private investigators in the United States. I can assure you that none of those investigators were in the top 5% of our industry. To that end, I simply wrote to my contemporaries in this post, essentially saying Relax, they can only bring attention to our industry and that should help everyone. There is certainly enough work to go around.my original Trustify post of their expressed concerns. After reviewing their cases, I gave credit on one case to Trustify and a tip to investigators at Trustify on the second. The third case was more typical of the lack of concern I had with Boice’s strategy: No world-class investigators signed on with the company. Therefore, when the top skill set of interview and interrogation was needed, Trustify’s pool of investigators fell flat.
I do give credit where it is due: Boice appears to have been a master at raising capital. Court records indicate that he raised 18.5 million dollars from 90 sources. You can read this Washington Post article, which details his history, culminating in Boice pleading guilty to wire and securities fraud.
Boice will be sentenced in March of 2021.
The Uber business model is certainly a popular one, but it simply can’t be applied to all service industries. You can’t attract top-talent with minimal wages – in any industry. With private investigation, the outcomes of our services are most often life-altering for clients, and when so much is on the line, it’s really critical to get things right by hiring the best of the best.