CHASING A CON ARTIST

Summary:

Our firm was retained by a client who, for many years, had been trying to collect on a judgment against a con artist who had induced him to make investments in a commodity trading scheme that was supposed to guarantee certain returns. Our client was convinced that this con artist had stashed money overseas, but our research led elsewhere.


The Story:

Our client had originally invested over $600,000 in the scheme and had induced friends and relatives to invest over $1.6 million dollars. The swindler running the con paid modest returns to the investors in typical Ponzi fashion for a while and, when things began to unravel, he disappeared.

 

For years before he came to us, our client was always "just behind" this con artist but never caught up with him. The $12 million judgment was good for ten years initially and it was renewed twice and could be renewed again, if necessary.

 

Our client was convinced that because the con artist had used a bank in Switzerland to originally transfer funds that the stolen money must be located in a Swiss bank or perhaps in a bank in Lichtenstein. We do bank searches in Europe but they are expensive, time consuming and very difficult given that many countries have financial privacy laws far more restrictive than in the US. In fact, when this client came to us, he had already spent a great deal of money hiring another agency to search for accounts of the defendant in Europe and nothing had been found.

 

After doing some initial research on the defendant, we were not convinced that additional time or effort should be spent attempting to locate offshore banks. We told the client that we would approach the matter differently, and he agreed to allow us to "do our thing".

 

We started by updating the defendant's personal profile. We discovered that he was using a slightly different first name, but still the same social security number. He had relocated many times in the intervening years and had left a trail of many failed business ventures.

 

This con artist had apparently recently discovered that when it comes to being around movie stars or the chance to be involved in "Hollywood" normally rational individuals often make poor investment decisions. So he had formed various "Production" companies, all for the sole purpose of soliciting investments. We found him, with one of those production companies in a town in Illinois, raising more money from a new group of victims.

 

An Illinois bank search led us to two bank accounts he had control over and our client was able to serve writs of execution on those accounts. The amount recovered on the first writ was almost equal to our client's initial investment in that bogus scheme many years before.

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