Just Reality, Not Reality TV
SCOTT FULMER ’98
Scott Fulmer is a private investigator,
and he wants you to know one thing:
It’s not like TV.
It’s not like TV.
"It’s exciting, but I don’t drive a
Ferrari, I don’t look like Thomas
Magnum and I don’t get beat up like
Jim Rockford did," said Fulmer, seated
in his office in a garage apartment at
his San Antonio home.
Fulmer, 47, worked for several
agencies and businesses as a private
eye before starting his own firm, Scott
B. Fulmer Investigations, in San
Antonio in 2006.
"I do a little bit of everything," said
Fulmer, who earned a B.A. in criminal
justice. "It’s important in this business
to have a niche. My niche is covert video
surveillance. Workers’ comp fraud,
insurance liability. If you know how to do
surveillance it doesn’t really matter if it’s
workers’ comp or domestic. It’s kind of
the same thing. I do child custody cases,
Regarding the latter, he said, "it’s
not like the show on Fox, Cheaters,"
where the client tags along, leading to
sensational, made-for-TV confrontations.
"That’s unethical. It’s not like
that at all."
Fulmer reels off some of the typical
cases he’s been involved in.
There was the workers’ comp case
where a woman was claiming a back
injury. Fulmer went through her trash,
found evidence she was going to Fiesta
Texas, followed her there and did video
surveillance. "The best video was her
on one of the roller coasters. No back
There was the custody case where,
Fulmer said, he needed a flow chart to
keep track of who was who. "The
grandmother/mother wanted custody of
her son’s child from a girlfriend, a
one-night stand. These things can get
really, really crazy."
There was the Border Patrol agent
found to be helping illegal immigrants
into the U.S., and the Drug Enforcement
Administration officer who
absconded "with a ton of drug money."
There was the stripper who had
been slightly injured in an auto
accident with an 18-wheeler and
wanted $1 million to settle. Fulmer
videotaped her at her place of employment.
"She was making moves that
most healthy people couldn’t do, much
less someone who had been involved in
an automobile accident."
Regarding surveillance, Fulmer
said, again, it’s not like television.
It can be extremely boring, with
many hours of waiting for the right
break. And "no one ever seems to sweat
on surveillance on TV. … It’s not rocket
science, it’s not splitting the atom, but
there are nuances. I tell people when I
hire them that we could train a monkey
to hold a camera, but that’s not going to
Fulmer, a San Antonio native, said
he was inspired to be a private eye
when, as a boy, he read the true story
Jay J. Armes, Investigator: The World’s
Most Successful Private Eye.
"He led a very exciting life," Fulmer
said. "He had his hands blown off by
dynamite when he was a kid, so he has
hooks. His name is Armes and he has
hooks. He intrigued me, and ever since
then I wanted to be a private investigator."
After graduating from Marshall High
School, Fulmer served a year as a
Mormon missionary, then joined the
Army, first with the 101st Airborne
Division out of Fort Campbell, Ky., then
later with the 2nd Armored Division out
of Fort Hood, Texas.
In 1990–91, the Army "invited me
to go to the Gulf War. How could I say
no?" he said, laughing.
When he left the military he
enrolled at San Antonio College, then
transferred to UTSA his junior year to
gain the academic background needed
to enhance his future career as a
As he talks about his work, it’s clear
Fulmer enjoys the chase, the cat-and-mouse,
the challenge of just discovering
a bit of hidden truth.
"I’m a licensed private investigator,
licensed by the state of Texas," he said.
"But I don’t arrest people. I could carry
a gun but I don’t. Private investigators
in reality don’t have a lot more authority
than just your regular citizen. But we’re
aware of how to find information."
And, best of all, it’s not like TV.
—Joe Michael Feist