Asset and Financial Investigation

Whether it’s during divorce proceedings, collecting debt, or verifying financial statements, an asset investigation uncovers hidden assets that might otherwise go unnoticed. These assets can include a spouse’s alleged inability to pay off a debt or an employer’s failure to report income on tax documents.

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TIN’s specialised investigators use open source intelligence to build subject and financial profiles. This enables them to identify domestic and foreign assets that may be hidden from prying eyes.

Hidden Assets

Hidden assets are money that isn’t on a balance sheet, or assets that have been hidden away from a partner during a divorce. They are often associated with shady, unethical businesses, but can be found in any type of business or personal situation. Hidden assets can be discovered through a variety of methods, including reviewing tax returns, alleged debt, shareholder statements, spending habits and much more.

Some of the most common cases of hiding assets involve couples who are going through a divorce and one spouse moves their money into accounts that they don’t share with their partner. Others tie their assets up in various entities like corporations, LLCs and offshore bank accounts. Some people also use mobile payments through providers such as PayPal and Venmo to move money around without leaving a paper trail.

Whatever the reason, a professional investigator will stick to “following the money” and will find any assets that are being concealed. This can help a creditor get the money they are owed, a divorce court reach a fair settlement or an insurance company pay a claim. This can be done by reviewing banking transactions, investigating real estate property records and examining business assets such as investments or even art, trademarks and antiques. It can be especially useful to review the ownership history of companies, as this can reveal hidden assets that have been transferred between entities.

Money Owed

For individuals and businesses that have won a legal judgment but have not yet received payment, asset investigations can uncover the ability to satisfy a financial judgement. This type of investigation involves a thorough research to uncover all financial and non-financial assets owned by the subject, including liens, judgments and bankruptcy filings that may offset the value of those newly discovered assets.

In many cases, financial investigators will use open source intelligence and conduct interviews to build subject and financial profiles. In some instances, special authorization from a judge or prosecutor is required to access government agency databases and conduct electronic surveillance. This is an area where working with a private investigative firm who has experience in these types of investigations can be particularly beneficial.

One of the biggest challenges when conducting financial investigations is tracing and recovering assets that are generated by criminal activity. The problem is that criminals often hide their assets by using multiple layers of shell companies and nominee company directors to conceal ownership, making it difficult for investigators to find them.

In order to trace and recover these illicit assets, investigators must have access to international legal cooperation mechanisms that support the gathering of evidence, provisional measures, and the enforcement of domestic orders in foreign jurisdictions. These mechanisms also provide a framework for domestic coordination, which can include a lead agency and a system of centralized information sharing.

Unclaimed Property

There are billions of dollars in unclaimed property in the United States. This is cash or other assets that a government office, company, bank or financial institution has not been able to find an owner for a designated period of time (called the dormancy period). Examples of unclaimed property include cash from an abandoned checking or savings account, uncashed checks, security deposit refunds, money orders and the contents of safe deposit boxes.

Each state has its own laws and regulations governing the reporting of unclaimed property. In general, companies are required to report unclaimed property if it has not been claimed by the rightful owner for a certain period of time, which is typically one to three years.

Once the unclaimed property has been reported by a company to the State Controller’s Office, it is safeguarded for as long as possible until it can be reunited with its rightful owner. In the event that an owner cannot be located, the property is escheated to the State where the company is incorporated.

Most businesses, even those not prone to forgetting about funded bank accounts or lost payroll checks, may have unclaimed property accumulating in their records. As a result, New York State has begun increasing its audits of companies that are out of compliance with the filing requirements of the Unclaimed Property Law. Those that remain out of compliance face stiff penalties for failure to comply.

Fraud

Fraudulent activity costs businesses major losses each year. It is harder to detect than theft, because fraud relies on manipulation and deception rather than the direct physical taking of property. Nevertheless, there are several telltale signs that can be identified during an asset and financial investigation. These include discrepancies in the financial statement, overstated revenue or inflated assets. These can be detected by preparing a side-by-side comparison of the subject company’s balance sheet and income statement by category and year.

Moreover, a ratio of current assets to current liabilities is another key indicator. If a company is committing fraud, its current assets will decrease while its liabilities will increase. This can be a telltale sign of embezzlement or asset misappropriation. Other fraud indicators can include timing differences such as understating sales in one accounting period and reinvoicing them in a more robust period, posting inventory to current period accounts, overstated inventory reserves and inflated depreciation schedules.

Whether it is embezzlement, fraud in the form of a Ponzi scheme or even identity theft, these scams cost companies billions each year. A financial investigator is trained to spot these issues, using specialised techniques such as tracing money flows and examining data. Our experts are always up to date on the latest schemes, ensuring we can help our clients uncover what may be happening inside their business.