->''"When you're a spy playing the role of spy hunter, the trail of evidence can lead wherever you say it does."''
-->-- '''Michael Westen''', ''Series/BurnNotice'', "Seek and Destroy"

So you're a scheming villain out to inflict some suffering on a poor UnwittingPawn. You have the gadgets, the {{Mooks}} and most importantly, the EvilPlan itself. But wait! Your unsuspecting victim may not be so unsuspecting! Quickly! What do you do?

Why, you employ the Investigator Impersonation! Almost a villanous form of LampshadeHanging, you do this by doing the last thing the victim would expect you to do: Outlining your entire plan straight to his face! By posing as a helping party, the villain convinces the victim that his plan is currently being implemented by somebody else. This allows the villain to simultaneously shift the suspicion away from him and get his victim to follow his every command to the letter.

A favorite of the ManipulativeBastard and TheChessmaster who may use [[ThePlan any variety of plan]] to make this work; very often, this is part of a BavarianFireDrill.

Compare DetectiveMole.



[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* Franchise/LupinIII's favorite disguise is Inspector Zenigata. He goes up to his victim, explains that they're being targeted by Lupin, and asks them to allow him to increase the security. Everything that the real Zenigata would do, too.


[[folder: Film ]]

* The "Mr. Charles" plan implemented by Cobb in ''Film/{{Inception}}''. By making Fisher believe Cobb was a projection of his subconscious, Cobb managed to make Fisher think someone was trying to steal information from his dreams. In reality, ''Cobb himself'' was the thief of whom he spoke. He tries the same thing on Saito earlier in the movie, and gets figured immediately.
* In ''Film/CatchMeIfYouCan'', to throw off Tom Hanks' character, Frank pretends to be an investigator from another agency.
** In a much more awesome variation, in RealLife the actual Frank Abagnale conned his way out of prison by impersonating an undercover FBI agent that was investigating the prison system (there were really FBI agents doing that at the time).
* In ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheLastCrusade'', [[spoiler:Donovan hiring Indiana Jones]] because that will [[MacGuffinDeliveryService lead him to the MacGuffin]].
-->Didn't I tell you not to trust anyone, Dr. Jones?
* In ''Film/TheLeagueOfExtraordinaryGentlemen'', [[spoiler: M[=/=]Moriarity]] was pulling this off on the whole team.
* In ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'', [[spoiler:Judge Doom]] claims to be after Marvin Acme's murderer, when in fact it was [[spoiler:he]] who committed it.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* OlderThanRadio: Literature/TheCountOfMonteCristo was fond of employing these, albeit on a smaller scale.
* Literature/ArseneLupin has pulled off many a heist or escape by dressing up as an investigator.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* This is a favorite tactic of Michael Westen on ''Series/BurnNotice''. In the episode that provides the page quote, he persuades a mark to give him access to his stolen painting by telling him that he's trying to protect it from a spy. (Accompanied by frequent {{Sarcastic Confession}}s, no less.) This is a rare non-villanous example. Westen will often go to extremes in these efforts by faking "attacks" by the invisible enemies.
** This was once played for comedy with Sam impersonating a CSI, with all the LampshadeHanging necessary.
* In a recent ''Series/{{Chuck}}'' episode, a mercenary hired to rob a CIA warehouse told a guard she was an agent sent there to assist him as they'd received word someone was going to try to rob the warehouse. Of course, her success here may have been due in large part to his fascination with [[DistractedByTheSexy her cleavage]].
* This is also frequently done on ''Series/{{Leverage}}'' as well, usually by Hardion, Parker and Eliot. In one interesting variation, during a mystery dinner theater, they have to claim to be putting on the show while solving the real murder.


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* In ''VideoGame/HeavyRain'', one of the investigators on the Origami Killer case turns out to be [[spoiler:the Killer himself. Namely, Scott Shelby, who poses as a PI to collect evidence he left behind as the killer]].