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Vaudra’s Tamara Rabenold: Retaining a private eye can uncover counterfeiting skullduggery

Sunday, October 6, 2019 - 07:00
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Tamara Rabenold is a licensed private investigator and CEO of Vaudra International, an investigation company specializing in intellectual property (IP) and corporate investigations. Previously in the marketing field, she transitioned into a career as a private investigator in 2004. Over the next 15 years and thousands of cases, she worked in every aspect of investigations, operations and management.

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In addition to IP-related involvements through the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association’s (AASA) IP Council and the International Trademark Association (INTA), she also is active within the investigative community.

In July she was appointed by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper to serve the investigative industry as a member of the Private Protective Services Board. The purpose of the 14-member board is to administer the licensing, education and training requirements for persons, firms, associations and corporations engaged in private protective services, such as private investigators and security guards within North Carolina. Prior to this appointment, she served on the Board for the North Carolina Association of Private Investigators (NCAPI) for more than three years, including being elected as President in 2018.

Rabenold recently answered a series of questions posed by Aftermarket Business World related to counterfeit auto parts:

How can a PI help a manufacturer?

There are effective ways to combat counterfeiting of your products, but you need the facts and supporting evidence first. Private investigators are a resource to gather this information in a factual, professional and unbiased way. Whether the investigation yields something to discuss with your attorney for civil remedies or there is the potential to pursue criminally, the private investigator helps facilitate the process and potential next steps.

Why hire a third-party investigator vs. using internal personnel to handle investigations?

While both can be effective, below are a few key advantages to hiring third-party investigators:

  • Provides an unbiased perspective
  • Have knowledge and understanding of best practices for the investigative industry/sector
  • Limits your liability
  • Easier to maintain your company’s anonymity when completing evidentiary purchases or when gathering sensitive information
  • Secure evidence with chain of custody & storage protocol
  • Access to information database resources that are only available to licensed private investigators and law enforcement.

What should I know when hiring a PI? Why should I hire an intellectual property PI?

As licensing and insurance requirements vary by state, you may want to verify that the investigator is properly licensed and insured. You also should check if the PI has applicable experience for your potential investigation. If you have a diesel engine, you probably want to take it to a diesel mechanic, right? Just like hiring a qualified and certified mechanic, you want to hire a qualified PI that specializes in that field as they will be more efficient and cost-effective in getting the job done.

What are the costs? Are lengthy contracts required to work with a PI?

Private investigators typically operate on an hourly rate, which varies greatly depending on location and expertise. When discussing a potential investigation, once we have a general understanding of your concerns and objectives we will provide a cost estimate and outline proposed phases for the investigation as applicable. Although every case is different, we aim to establish clear expectations on both sides. We work with clients on a case-by-case basis, as well as long-term engagements.

What is Vaudra’s foundation?

Founded in 2003, Vaudra was started by two investigators with backgrounds in law enforcement and intellectual property investigations. Technology and the level of virtual access to subjects of investigation have changed dramatically since their IP investigations in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Back then, access to subjects was primarily done via facsimile, telephone and personal contact. You could count the number of experienced IP investigative companies on one hand, so clients were flying us across the country with little hesitation. Many of our company’s core philosophies established during that time remain the same: Eliminate costly surveillance, develop rapport and interact directly with the SOI (subject of investigation).

We are passionate about supporting our clients and providing valuable intelligence to bolster their business decisions & protect the brand’s integrity & Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). We develop customized investigative strategies centered on your objectives, conducting every investigation in a way that is ethical, legal and respectful of all parties’ constitutional rights.

Why the interest in the aftermarket?

Living in the heart of NASCAR country and surrounded by innovation, we were seeking a way to plug in when we learned of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association’s new IP Council. It presented an opportunity to not only help these companies protect their innovations & support an industry that impacts consumer safety.

What do you know about the aftermarket industry and auto parts?

We learn more with every case. Fortunately, it isn’t necessary for us to be experts in the aftermarket or auto parts to be effective. No one knows your brand, your parts or the industry better than you, and we become an extension of your team. Our expertise is investigations and gathering the evidence to support your decision and potential case related to the situation and parties involved. While we may need a quick lesson on your part-specific jargon, pricing tiers or number of units in a carton/case, we know the right questions to ask and the right time to ask them to uncover the facts.

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