Millions of Dollars in U.S. Judgments Awarded, 80 % Uncollected, Finally a Remedy
Boca Raton 6/08/2012 12:27 PM GMT (TransWorldNews)
Forensic science may spark thoughts of courtroom dramas about capital crimes, but there is another kind of courtroom drama that is playing out across the nation that is costing victims millions of lost dollars and requiring a different type of forensics.
These acts of fraud and other white-collar abuses rob people of their life-savings or cheat companies out of millions in rightful income. And yet even after the victims are vindicated in an often-lengthy trial, they don't know how to get the money they are owed.
Inspired to find these victims the financial recovery they deserve, the team of forensic accountants and analysts at Littleton, Colo.- based Financial Forensic Services have spent decades discovering where culprits hide cash and assets that will make their victims whole again.
"I can't stand it when people are defrauded — I cringe," Financial Forensic Services chief operating officer Stephanie Archer-Dickerson said.
But the best financial research is only effective when it's paired with a world-class attorney who has first-hand knowledge of how to regain creditor's cash, she said.
That's why Financial Forensic Services (FFS) recently joined forces with the 107-year-old Columbia Law List, a comprehensive list of attorneys in the United States and overseas with specific experience helping corporate and individual creditors recover debt.
Columbia Law List is a creditors rights international legal network with worldwide members and is comprised of the most experienced case management experts — some who have been retained by foreign governments for debt collection advice, according to list owner Columbia Financial International president Robert Pinchuck.
Pinchuck, likewise, was impressed with the depth of expertise in the FFS staff assembled by Archer-Dickerson and CEO Joe Dickerson. FFS includes a former Naval Intelligence officer and ex-employee with the Internal Revenue Service and Securities and Exchange Commission.
Archer-Dickerson was a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigations Bank Fraud Task Force. Dickerson has been tracking down offenders for more than 45 years — first as a former detective sergeant with Houston Police and founding member of the district attorney's organized crime bureau.
Those striking résumés create a formidable team that gets results for clients who want to collect on judgments.
"That piece of paper saying you've won your case means nothing if you can't collect," Pinchuck said. "Many companies just don't know about this group."
Pinchuck hopes the new partnership, named Judicial Forensic Services, will garner both entities more attention as it expands a national and international reach.
"The joint venture brings together a huge network of people who know what they're doing and can short cut the process," said Archer-Dickerson. "We've spent years establishing this reliable and effective network. We want to ease the gap in the process and do whatever we can do for the victims."
Most people don't know where to turn to get their money after they've won a judgment, she said. They also don't want to become a victim a second time from a protracted search that turns up nothing.
Cincinnati-based The IL Bridge Fund won a judgment for breech of contract and then the capital investment firm spent $2,500 in its initial asset search of the lender and came up with nil, president Angelo Sferrazza said. Then Sferrazza hired FFS and the forensic team found six pieces of real estate that were owned by subsidiaries of the lender.
"The original debtor's examination required them to bring in a bank statement which had a zero money in the account," Sferrazza said. "But with FFS, we subpoenaed the whole ledger and the team went line item, by line item. If we hired a law firm to do that it would have been too cost-prohibitive at $200-$400 an hour."
Denver-based Snell and Wilmer attorney Jim Kilroy admits that a lot of attorneys won't acknowledge that they don't have the expertise to find hidden assets. Kilroy has used FFS for his clients and he appreciates that the forensic team come up with a plan instead of just "randomly poking here and there."
"It's like peeling an onion and you have to know what to do, where to go and how to get there quickly," Archer-Dickerson said.
Financial Forensic Services estimates that only 20 percent of civil judgments in the United States are collected by victims. That represents billions of uncollected dollars nationwide. Most creditors lack analytical expertise to recoup their money.
When clients come to me they are worn out," said Denver asset recovery attorney Dana Temple, who has worked dozens of cases with FFS to find her clients restitution. "They have won their way through an arduous judicial process that is emotionally and sometimes financially draining. They have a judgment and now say, 'where is our money?'"
Their attorneys may have been great litigators, but there is no training in law school for post-judgment financial recovery, Temple said.
The offenders can be very creative in the ways they hide their cash and assets to avoid paying victims and most attorneys use traditional tactics such as depositions, garnishments, writs and subpoenas.
FFS catches these wrongdoers through forensic research that locates hidden or diverted assets held in offshore bank accounts, corporations, partnerships and trusts.
Assets are concealed under the names of family members, colleagues and secretaries, but FFS will follow sometimes-unlikely paper trails to uncover secret stashes of cash.
"The accounting research we ask them to do is much more difficult and sophisticated than the typical inquiry," said Eric Voogt, attorney for Denver-based Inman, Flynn, Biesterfeld and Brentlinger.
Voogt's firm makes it a practice to determine whether a defendant will have the assets to repay their clients prior to potentially spending several hundred thousand dollars to go to court.
"They are very good at connecting the dots for our clients so they can make a decision because they know upfront if the defendant has the ability to pay so the client is not chasing an empty bucket," Voogt said.
The attorney has used the staff of Financial Forensic Services as expert witnesses in his cases and he said they have successfully helped him prove intention on behalf of the defendant — securing recovery for his client even if the defendant files for bankruptcy.
"They just get better information than anyone," Voogt said. "They are relentless — you don't want them chasing you."