This is the 3rd post in my private investigator series discussing what private investigators can and cannot do legally when searching for assets. My January 6th post mentions that on behalf of clients, former attorney Mary Nolan and her private investigator conspired to place illegal wiretaps in cars. Their clients were reportedly never accused of
This is the 2nd post in my series about private investigators & what they can & cannot do legally when searching for assets. It is also the 10th post in my Divorce & Hidden Money series. The Huffington Post article “Uncovering Hidden Assets In Divorce Litigation” observes that information obtained by “surreptitious means” might be used by one divorcing spouse against the other. Obtaining information through a surreptitious search can be critical to recovering assets in a broad range of criminal & civil cases. Depending on the circumstances, surreptitious searches might involve wiretaps; bank searches; law enforcement databases; and physical surveillance. These surreptitious means have however, sometimes been abused by private investigators, attorneys & others in the following ways:
WIRETAPS– As stated in testimony at a 1967 U.S. Senate hearing ‘private bugging in this country can be divided into two broad categories, commercial espionage and marital litigation.’ ¹ Former attorney Mary Nolan handled divorce & family law matters for nearly 30 years before pleading guilty to the wiretapping & tax fraud charges at counts 1-4 &/or 6 of her 2012 criminal indictment. An amended judgment showed Ms. Nolan was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison, 3 years of supervised release, etc. Ms. Nolan’s sentencing memorandum said her cases frequently involved allegations that husbands were hiding assets. The prosecutor’s sentencing memorandum meanwhile, claimed Ms. Nolan had employed a private investigator “to install eavesdropping devices in cars used by her clients’ spouses for use in their divorce proceedings.”
BANK SEARCHES– Some private investigators try to surreptitiously search banks in the U.S. for accounts secretly opened by divorcing spouses, debtors, etc. These investigators may claim they search through computer research; insiders; or information brokers. Private investigators cannot ordinarily search banks legally because of privacy and other U.S. laws, as explained by the post available here. The Court has also noted “it is more likely than not that the only way that information brokers can obtain private financial information from banks is through the use of deception and trickery, including impersonation of account holders.” Commonwealth v. Source One Associates, Inc., No. CIV. A. 98-0507-H, 1999 WL 975120, at *6 (Mass. Super. Oct. 12, 1999) aff’d sub nom. Com. v. Source One Associates, Inc., 436 Mass. 118, 763 N.E.2d 42 (2002).…
This is the first post in my new series about what private investigators can & cannot do legally when searching for hidden assets. Divorcing spouses, creditors bringing forced collection proceedings, etc., may search for assets by hiring private investigators and/or information brokers who try to detect secret bank accounts. The post asks: what standards should be followed when investigating bank accounts at U.S. financial institutions? At the conclusion it discusses some best practices. The post’s talking points are:
- Hiring A Private Investigator For A $249.00 Bank Account Search?
- The Security Of Your Information At Banks in the U.S.
- How Illegal Pretext Calls Work In An Investigation
- Federal Laws Related To Pretexting
- Best Practices For Collecting Bank Account Information
Virginia private investigator Arcanum Investigations, Inc. apparently offers bank account searches through the Docusearch.com, (“Docusearch”), website. For $249.00 plus $50 for each open bank account detected, Docusearch says it “[i]dentifies all bank accounts,” “[b]ank name and address,” “[a]ccount titles, where available“, “[a]ccount type” and “[a]pproximate account balance, where available.” The website states that Docusearch “will continue to search all major banks…”:
“We will not stop searching once an account is located. We will continue to search all major banks and credit unions nationwide and locality of the subject. No account numbers will be returned. Your attorney may subpoena all bank records (directly) from the bank once account(s) have been identified.”
The Docusearch “How To Find Hidden Bank Accounts” video asserts “our licensed private investigators specialize in finding hidden assets, secret bank accounts and other financial information that people work so hard to hide.” The video says “[o]ur licensed private investigators and asset search specialists have access to protected information that’s usually reserved just for law enforcement…plus you can rest easy knowing all of our work is done in compliance with all bank privacy laws.”