asset searching for recovery actions

Asset Searching for Recovery Actions

The Accommodation Maker’s Most Critical Tool – Allotment 1

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As certified fraud examiners (CFE), we all apperceive the nuts and bolts of our

respective areas of specialty, and hopefully, we are all growing professionally at

an astounding stride. Crime does, unfortunately, pament – aloof not for the criminal.

After conducting asset research for over 14 age for such demanding institutions

as FDIC, FSLIC, and RTC, as able-bodied as above hotels and casinos in the gaming

industry, property management firms, and abounding of the nation’s larger constitution firms,

one affair that has emerged is a distinct absence of advice – not about the type

of items searched, but the depth and affection of other searches.

In cutting to the chase, the following is the aftereffect of the compilation of asset

search guidelines, and should serve to abetment in setting at least a baseline

standard for developing a applicable private asset search strategy.

Subject Identification

Prior to alpha the acquisition of advice on any subject of an asset

search, the subject should be properly identified.

Studies accept shown that as much as 30% of the American population uses

undisclosed aliases and/or “akas” to conduct and transact assorted levels of

personal and able bag. This statistic does not booty into statement the

existence of corporate, DBA and/or association entity names, which are created

to transact the assorted forms of bag on behalf of the principals of said entity.

To properly analyze a non-corporate subject, the following minimum

recommendations are fabricated for non-constitution enforcement environments:

access credit reports from the three above credit bureaus, per Unbiased Credit

Reporting Act (FCRA) requirements. However, accomplish sure that obtaining the

reports is in compliance with permissible purposes as defined in Public Constitution 91-

508, Title VI (FCRA), to avoid tainting your pursuit should the matter ever be

litigated. Bethink, in the context of this discussion, we are focused on asset

searches as recovery medium, and the basic assumption is that the asset search

has already been curved to be sanctionable. This could be curved, for

archetype, by a loan in default, a astuteness that has been rendered, or a court

adjustment obtained for the release of the credit advice in cases that are not

clearly defined under the FCRA.

Bethink this child’s play guideline: credit reports are legal post-astuteness, for

purposes of collection, and/or where consent has been accustomed somewhere in the

stream of the creditor/debtor accord. In the position of a receivership institution

(i.e., where a director is being scrutinized for alleged conversion of assets),

consent may again accept been accustomed for a credit history during pre-employment

evaluation or as a policy-based condition of employment.

This is referred to as “extended consent,” and constitutes valid statement, especially in

matters where a criminal investigation is under road, and where the conversion of

assets is factually alleged as the aftereffect of a forensic audit or proven by

admission. Be careful, though, as “extended consent” from the employment

perspective is still a gray area under the constitution.

The following two items are available from credit bureaus and their sub-vendors

but accept less coverage extended to them under the FCRA, yet the “FCRA

compliance air” should be used when accessing them:

· access social security traces from the three above credit bureaus.

· access inscription amend/credit report header advice from the three

above credit bureaus.

· access voter registration advice for the applicable jurisdiction

relevant to the primary, or most recent, residence of the subject. Some

states accept compiled voter data buttoned up private repositories, which should

be checked for movement.

Match the advice obtained buttoned up the independent sources to the

advice presented by the candidate in the anatomy of the credit application with

the institution, and/or the advice developed independently by the institution

in the initial credit qualification action.

Abounding other methods of identification exist, but the above represents the actual

least that should be done.

The astuteness for obtaining the advice from all three bureaus, instead of alone

one, is to advance any alias and/or aka data, as able-bodied as current addresses (not

specified), and/or any supplementary addresses that may accommodate venue data. This

will abetment the asset searcher in determining whether to advise the client to

proceed with asset discovery in supplementary areas foreigner to the client at the age

the asset search was requested.

Inscription verifications are usually ambitious without a physical inspection of the

inscription in catechism, including a visual identification of the subject entering and/or

leaving the inscription. Inscription advice that is cross-referenced and verifiable

buttoned up the above credit bureau repositories is usually presented in an asset

search, and in most cases is actual reliable.

To ascertain the current telephone figure of the subject, methods available to

the fraud examiner accommodate nationwide telephone directories, criss-cross

directories, directory assistance contact, and attempts at contact existing

telephone numbers accepted by the client. There are other methods of telephone

figure adding to available. However, these methods should not be utilized

by a CFE in adjustment to avoid tainting the legality of the pursuit, in the even that

litigation is bitter borderline undertaken.

Assets Determination

Assets determination usually constitutes an integration of certain liability data to

counterbalance the assets “worth” in adjustment to arrive at a grasp equity position. This is

especially accurate in identifying and analyzing absolute property assets. There are

multiple forms of asset determination, which are described as follows:

Absolute Property Ownership: A search should be conducted of the applicable

county jurisdiction. The exception is in California where a statewide assessor’s

index is available, usually buttoned up the “lien date” of the prior year. This

repository is fabricated available buttoned up a private company, and is in no road

sanctioned by any public jurisdiction. For traditional searches throughout the rest

of the U.S., per jurisdiction research is conducted at the assessor’s office to

actuate if the agname exists on the assessor’s roll, and/or if the accepted property

(inscription) cross-verifies to the suspect owner.

A search of the applicable jurisdiction’s Recorder’s Grantee/Grantor index (or

general index as it may again be accepted) is then undertaken to actuate if the

property is still vested to the subject, and if any accessible Deeds of Assurance and other

liens exist which analyze liabilities against the property. The search in the

recorder’s venue should again analyze (in jurisdictions where this is possible) the

Documentary Transfer Levy Stamp amount, which should be divided by the

applicable agency. This yields a sales price for the property, which should then be

scrutinized by contacting a local realtor to verify the current marketplace amount. This

“succinct” marketplace amount determination would then be subtracted from the

a-1 Deeds of Assurance (encumbrances) for a grasp equity amount of the


Supplementary research of absolute property ownership comes in the anatomy of updating the

assessor’s rolls buttoned up the recorder’s assistance to actuate if the subject’s agname

has come into title to supplementary parcels of property, subsequent to the “lien date”

of the assessor’s records, which is in abounding jurisdictions up to sixty to ninety days


The searches in the recorder’s assistance should again analyze recent transfers of

ownership of an alone’s absolute property, wherein the ownership may accept been

transferred to a family member, closely held corporation, or other entity. Based

upon the guidelines established by the client, the searches can be permutated to

accommodate supplementary research on supplementary names developed during the study,

which the examiner may air has a direct accord to the subject of the report.

It is big to note that asset searches are usually requested on specific

names of individuals, and it is an industry standard of practice to conduct the

research on the specific subject agname. Competent investigative agencies

contact the client in some road to disclose supplementary names discovered during

the searches.

Searches should again accommodate advice developed on absolute property assets

jointly held in the agname of the husband and wife. This advice is usually

indexed by advantage of the husband’s agname, or the aboriginal agname that appears on the

conveying deed.

It is big to accept that an asset search does not automatically research

property held in the agname of a wife unless the asset search is specifically ordered

on the wife’s agname. If so, the wife’s agname would then be included as a primary

search agname (parameter), and assets held in the wife’s agname would then be

covered. Certainly simply, an asset search on a husband should usually again acknowledge

advice on spousal assets held jointly, but not necessarily accommodate assets held

by the wife individually or as sole owner, or under altered agname styles such as

aliases or maiden names.

Vehicle Searches: Searches should be conducted of the applicable states

Department of Motor Vehicles to analyze all vehicles owned under the agname and

inscription accustomed to the state repository for search purposes. Several states accomplish not

accommodate this service, as the levy registration albatross for vehicular ownership

rests with a county or community jurisdiction. Where states will not accommodate this

advice, the applicable jurisdiction or jurisdictions should be researched to

actuate if vehicles are owned by the agname accustomed as primary search parameter.

It is again big to accept that most assets search requests are not alone

based upon single agname searches, but usually single jurisdiction searches as able-bodied.

Some examiners may air justified in providing supplementary “over-the-county-line”

advice in adjustment to bolster the advice developed without an supplementary

asset search. However, single county or community jurisdictions should be expected

as an industry standard.

Analyze credit reports to actuate if current (a-1) and/or previous loans

may accept existed, linking this type of asset to the subject. Abounding times vehicular,

vessel, and aircraft assets are not identified buttoned up standard search parameters,

but are identified if the subject may accept the asset registered in a altered

jurisdiction; if the asset may be registered under a altered agname; or if the subject

may be a guarantor on the loan.

Vessel Ownership: There are three possible forms of accessing vessel ownership

advice. The aboriginal is on a state-by-state basis at the Departments of Motor

Vehicles. The second is at the county or community akin. The third is a search of the

U.S. Coast Guard’s Watercraft Index, a nationwide repository of registered vessels

over a certain length. Depending upon the location of the asset search to be

conducted, one or all of these methods should be utilized.

Aircraft Ownership: Other than by “intelligence” advice which may accept been

submitted to the institution at the outset of the credit qualification action, the alone

adaption of developing aircraft registration advice is to perform an FAA

Airman’s Search to actuate if an FAA Aviator’s license has been issued, and/or if

an alone has an aircraft registered in his or her agname within the Federal

Aviation Administration’s files. As with the vessel ownership search buttoned up the

U.S. Coast Guard Watercraft registration, there is alone one state root repository

that makes this service available. The service is resold buttoned up other database

repositories, yet it is advised that the “root” repository be utilized in adjustment to

minimize data transfer/loss from vendor to vendor.

Banking Advice: Bank statement searches may be the apple’s “second-oldest

profession.” There is no specific road to access bank statement advice, other

than by a multitude of artistic pursuits including the adding to of advice

within a consumer’s credit history; director contact with a banking institution; the

statement of sources in the U.S. Federal Reserve Clearinghouse System; or by sources

and contacts developed by the fraud examiner with local, state, or state banking


This is truly the “art and science’ of an asset search, in that the adeptness to

successfully analyze banks rests heavily with the fraud examiner’s prowess in this


The standard guidelines for bank statement searches are “exact agname basis alone”

searches, with less stress placed on jurisdictional lines, since most bank

statement searches are developed via intelligence leads. In abounding instances, an

asset search will consult “no document activate” to a banking institution under an exact

subject agname. The subject’s agname may arise as a signatory on an alternate

statement, possibly under the agname of a disclosed or undisclosed entity, or as a

signatory on an statement held under the agname of another. Bank accounts will not

usually be disclosed in this fashion. Unauthorized advice pertaining to a nonsearched

consumer could compromise that person’s privacy under federal privacy

laws, the FCRA and the CCPA, as able-bodied as abounding other statutes.

It is protected to add that most agencies are abrupt to access at least some banking

advice. This should rest with the acknowledged Inscription of Execution speech,

constructed by counsel as served upon the institution’s regional administrative

and/or corporate assistance (for examples send a appeal to

[email protected]).

In Allotment 2 of this article, we’ll attending at other financial and bag advice that

should be gathered during an asset search, liability-related data which impacts the

subject’s grasp worth as able-bodied as other advice.

Thomas C. Lawson, CFE, CII is President and Founder of APSCREEN International, the apple’s

leading full service Consumer Reporting Agency. Lawson is called “one of the absolute pros” as he

has helped to reshape laws including employment screening permissible credit reporting, asset

discovery and fraud examination. Tom is a Action Member of: ACFE, ASIS, SHRM, PIHRA,


Originall posted March 24, 2012