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Ex-Marine makes a living doing security, investigations – Butler Eagle | #datingscams | #lovescams | #datingscams | #love | #relationships | #scams | #pof | #match.com | #dating


Silhouetted with a camera is Check Your Mate owner Steve Braden, a private investigator with an office in downtown Butler, on Thursday, April 27, 2023. Justin Guido/Butler Eagle

Steve Braden, owner of Check Your Mate Investigations in downtown Butler, always wanted to be the “real deal” when it came to being a private investigator.

His list of qualifications and experience has helped him position himself to take on any type of case, locally or overseas.

“I have gone through every school and training,” Braden said. “I volunteered for jungle warfare school, cold weather survival, hostage negotiation and prisoner of war survival school. I always wanted to be the real deal and be the best at what I did.”

Braden opened Check Your Mate Investigations in 1997 after finishing his time with the U.S. Marine Corps.

After serving his country, Braden returned to Butler and found a job at Butler County Prison. It helped him learn to deal with harsh situations that most people could not handle.

“Working at the prison led into working with the marshals, then that lead to working with a (private investigator),” Braden said. “I’m from Freeport. I went into the Marines two weeks out of high school. Came back and got a job at the prison.”

Not just cheating spouses

Braden describes Check Your Mate as a “full-service detective agency and security company” that does more than just investigate cheating spouses.

“We mainly do high-end security,” Braden said. “Most of my stuff is plainclothes or suited up. There could be some CNN or Fox News people that are semi-celebrities in town, and they hire us to be plainclothes security.

“Don’t be fooled by the name Check Your Mate investigations. I used that name in the beginning to get a spark and get people talking, but it’s not all we do.”

Other types of cases Braden investigates include child custody cases, criminal or civil background checks, stolen identity, online stalking or harassment, missing persons and more.

Everything he does is done with discretion because a lot of his clients want things done without certain parties knowing, such as missing persons cases.

“The first one I ever did there was this girl who was talking to some people on the internet and she ended up hitchhiking to Philadelphia,” Braden said. “She was from a very prominent family, they did not want to go to the cops. Luckily, she called from a pay phone and I was able to reverse the call.

“I went out there and did surveillance on that street and I saw her walking down the street with a bunch of thugs. I just flashed my badge and said ‘She’s coming with me.’”

Braden’s resources are virtually unlimited, as he relies on help from local law enforcement departments and other investigation companies.

“We have the ability to retrieve things off of phones that were deleted,” Braden said. “We do a lot of background checks, and I network with other companies to do that. I have contractors, not employees. I’ve got a huge network.”

He has access to investigators all over the world, some of whom he has trained. So if he needs something done in a certain area, he can contract out to them.

In Braden’s world, there is no punching in or clocking out. His work is 24 hours a day, seven days a week as phone calls for work could come in at all hours of the night.

“The Maridon Museum is one of our security sites,” Braden said. “A call might come in during the middle of the night saying there’s an alarm going off, I have to go clear the building out because there’s millions of dollars of art in that place.”

Braden will take on cases big or small. That could range from things as small as simple background checks, or long-term investigations that may take months to complete.

“We do undercover work for companies where they think employees might be committing theft,” Braden said. “We will go in as an employee and document stuff.”

Braden said he currently is working about eight cases, most of which are local, while others will take him to Florida and South Carolina.

The cost of his services depends mostly on the amount of time it takes to complete a case. Sometimes there is a flat fee, but other times the price can go up depending on what’s involved.

“I want to help whoever comes here for as cheap and as fast as possible,” he said. Sometimes there are flat fees for certain jobs like an asset check. It might be $2,000. I use a company that does that and most of it goes to them. I’m kind of the middle guy. I don’t have those resources here.”

Braden also investigate scams, notably those that happen on dating websites such as Christian Mingle and eHarmony.

He said these scams happen to men and women, but one case Braden worked involved a traveling nurse who would reach out to wealthy men who were on online dating sites.

“There are predators on all these online dating sites,” Braden said. “One time I had four separate gentlemen come into my office because they all got played by the same woman in the same month. They all gave large amounts of cash and expensive engagement rings. She was engaged to all four of them.”

Covert operations

In some situations Braden has to be very covert, while also putting himself in very real danger.

He said he once did surveillance in a tax-fraud case on a gentleman living in the middle of the woods.

Braden was in a full ghillie, camouflage suit, so he could blend in with the environment and get proof the man was not bedridden as he claimed to be.

However, this man had protection, which included a couple mean-looking dogs on chains.

“I made a rustle or something and the dogs made me,” Braden said. “They started barking and he cut them loose on me. It’s like a movie. My legs are going so fast my mind is not even caught up. They are making ground. I get in the car, slam the door and the dogs run their heads into the door and make a dent in the door.”

Due to the dangerous jobs Braden takes on, he takes every step necessary to make sure he is protected.

This includes wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a gun and other nonlethal gadgets.

“People right now are very violent against law enforcement,” Braden said. “That’s why I wear a vest now. I never wore one, but I have now for the past five years.”

“I have ones that are stun knuckles,” he added. “I have a device that looks like a lighter, but it sticks a blade out. I have a cellphone stun gun that looks like an iPhone. Most of the time I’m carrying a gun.”

Braden enjoys the work he does, and it often brings a smile to his face after he knows he helped save a life or made a huge difference in someone’s life.

“I will never retire,” Braden said. “I really don’t have anyone to take this over. It’s gratifying to help people. When you return a missing person, that’s something I want people to see.”

Check Your Mate Investigations is at 220 S. Main St. in suite E of the Holly Pointe building in Butler.

Different tools used by Check Your Mate owner Steve Braden, a private investigator with an office in downtown Butler on Thursday April 27, 2023. Justin Guido/Butler Eagle

A Brass Knuckle stunner that Check Your Mate owner Steve Braden uses as a private investigator with an office in downtown Butler on Thursday April 27, 2023. Justin Guido/ Butler Eagle

Military pictures of Check Your Mate owner Steve Braden, a private investigator with an office in downtown Butler on Thursday April 27, 2023. Justin Guido/Butler Eagle

Medals that Check Your Mate owner and Marine Steve Braden has received on Thursday April 27, 2023. Justin Guido/Butler Eagle

Silhouetted with a camera is Check Your Mate owner Steve Braden, a private investigator with an office in downtown Butler on Thursday April 27, 2023. Justin Guido/Butler Eagle

Check Your Mate owner Steve Braden is a private investigator with an office in downtown Butler on Thursday April 27, 2023. Justin Guido/ Butler Eagle



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