Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Asset Searches. What Does That Really Mean? Part 1 of 3


All of you have heard the term "asset search" before.  Like our blog on backgrounds, asset searches are at times cookie cutter and just flat horrible.  Now that you have paid, sometimes thousands of dollars, for your search you receive a report, at times lengthy, and probably full of "fluff".

I will give you one example of a report I personally received from another firm that "specialized" in collections and asset location looking for my help to further their investigation.  As you read I will explain what they did and what JB National Investigations did so that you can come to your own conclusions about whats professional and through and whats not.

I received a legal folder with 28 pages which at first glance appeared to be full of pertinent information.  I was a little intimidated by the amount of information I was receiving wondering what else I could possibly uncover that they hadn't.  That intimidation quickly subsided once I was back at my desk and began to parse through the provided information.

What I had found, much like "basic" backgrounds, was that the information provided was simply a credit report, some old bank statements as well as information that was obviously taken from a simple database search.

If I were to take all of the FACTS that were listed in their report it may have taken 2.5 pages total.  What was in the other 25.5 pages?  Cut and paste pictures of current and past properties, cut and paste maps, the last 3 owners of a certain property (this could be useful but not in this particular case), pictures of the interior of homes that were completely outdated, paragraph upon paragraph of speculation, several pages of what used to be owned by the subject years prior to any involvement in legal action.....I could go on but it would be pointless, it was a report full of nothing basically trying to justify to their client their fee.

Let me now tell you what you need to know, what should be included in any written report and whats relevant when it comes to asset searches.

The most important piece of any asset location or search, especially for recovery, is getting a realtime "snapshot" of their assets prior to any action, legal or otherwise.  This is paramount in cases of professional debtors, people committing fraud, and/or people who owe significant amounts of money.  This "snapshot" will allow you to present this information to a judge and/or your attorney and prove
where the assets were prior to any action taking place.  This becomes important should your "bad guy" decide to start moving assets.  In almost all states its a crime to "fraudulently transfer" any asset with the intent to "hide" and/or circumvent legal action of any kind.  Arizona for instance takes fraudulent transfer very seriously.

Your state laws may dictate how to move forward but in Arizona the order in which information is relevant definitely starts with liquid assets (cash/bank accounts) which can be seized immediately (with judgement of course).  A professional private investigative firm, like JB National Investigations,  should be able to provide you with your subjects banking institution(s).  If the private investigator you have hired can't offer banking information, chances are they are not a truly professional asset location specialist.

Bank accounts as well as any another cash type account should give you a good idea about how the rest of your investigation will go.    For instance if you were to garnish four accounts and they only contained a total of $1000 when you are looking for millions either your debtor/subject is very good or there just aren't enough liquid assets to continue to "throw good money at bad money".

The search for accounts should not be limited to "standard" financial institutions.  They should include all retirement accounts, 401k's, IRA's etc.

In some cases an account garnishment may be all you need to accomplish your investigative goals.

Now that you know what your private investigator should be doing let me tell you what JB National Investigations did for the client we talked about at the beginning of this blog.

JB National Investigations followed the above mentioned standard to the letter when continuing the investigation for our now client.  What we found as far as liquid assets were concerned was significant.
The subject of this particular investigation had scores of bank accounts in multiple LLC's, personally, the spouses name as well as shell companies of the mentioned LLC's.  We spent weeks putting together a chain of custody for ownership for bank accounts.  None of this information was even mentioned in the supplied report.  Of course as with any criminal who commits fraud or professional debtor they show a pattern if you are able to gather enough intelligence on them.  Of course our debtors pattern emerged which made our search for physical assets much easier.

I will talk about physical assets in Part 2.

If you have questions or would like to know more about asset investigations please contact me anytime.

John Hopper
Director of Investigative Services
JB National Investigations, LLC

For further reading on offshore assets searches I found another blog that may interest you.

A Phoenix Arizona Base Private Investigations Firm

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