Nobody gets rich being a private eye, but one guy in Minnesota has figured out that working the other side of the street might just pay a little better.

Hanging out a shingle that reads “Paladin Deception Business,” Tim Green, retired private investigator, has started a professional lie business, providing backup for the kinds of whoopers that appear in resumes and for stories that cheating husbands tell their wives. For Green, business consists of providing back-up for a late night or the business phone number and emails for an employment history fib. For Green, business is lying.

And business is good.

Providing a “scenario” for a customer, with rates that start at $45, Paladin gives customers telephone backup and email support for things like a doctor’s call for a sick day, references for a prospective employer, or even a friend who needed a ride to the ER when the husband comes home a few hours late.

“We all need a second chance,” Green told Bob Shaw of the Pioneer Press. "I believe that my moral compass is intact," he said. "We are not breaking any laws, and if we help people out, I feel like we are doing a positive service.

"I consider it disinformation. I consider it a business."

In the four years since Paladin has been in business, their client list has grown to over 250 on-going clients. Using state-of-the-art telephony, Paladin can provide a phone number from any area code in the country. The four employees at Paladin are trained in regional dialects, and some are fluent in Spanish and Chinese.

Paladin Deception also provides email backup for a successful deception.

Repeated callbacks for inquiries are included in the initial price, but for scenarios that go over a month or require additional scripts, a modest charge is required. While he has a variety of regular clients, cheating spouses make up the bulk of his on-going business.

Despite a somewhat shady business model, Green does draw a line. He will not be an accessory to a crime and has even tipped off law officials. While some may accuse Green of “moral ambiguity,” he sees what he provides as an essential service, and has absolutely no problem sleeping at night.

"It's a service that's helpful. I never say anything negative. There is no physical or mental harm to anyone."

Although the use of deception services in Europe and Asia is not new, Green is breaking ground in the US. He knows of only one other company similar to his in the country.

While I may see what Green and Paladin does as less than honest, and I’m not alone in this, being a fiction writer, and in a way a compatriot of Green, I have to tip my hat, even if I shake my head at the same time.

Steven Gomez is an indie writer in the best (or worst) pulp tradition.
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