To sue, or not to sue?
One of the tasks Tremark is regularly asked to perform is what’s known as a ‘pre-sue’ report comprising background checks and asset searches on individuals who are being pursued by creditors. After all, it makes sense to look carefully at whether or not your debtor is worth the time and expense of a court case before you begin legal proceedings.
The traditional route
In some respects it’s a straightforward process. We use a range of databases to run checks on birth dates, names, contact numbers and various linked addresses before moving on to explore the nature of any assets or liabilities, including county court judgements and insolvency details. That said, it often takes plenty of time, expertise and downright dogged determination to unmask the identities of those who’d rather not be traced or investigated.
It comes as no surprise when we find out that our subject has had several aliases and operated from multiple addresses. If our background search shows that the individual in question doesn’t own the home they live in, has moved around a lot and is trailing a handful of dissolved companies in their wake, it’s often a sign that assets are thin on the ground. You definitely get a feel for the lie of the land when you’ve performed background checks on as many people as we have over the years.
What’s changed in the last few years is the way in which we can now use a lot more publically available data to not only trace the whereabouts of the people we’re investigating but also to build a detailed profile of the kind of lifestyles they enjoy – all vital pieces of the puzzle for our clients.
Once we’ve explored all the traditional sources of information, checking names and addresses, investigating aliases and interrogating the data on business and property interests, we create a timeline, which is usually quite revealing. What helps us to fill in any gaps is a thorough search of material from the internet.
You can harvest an amazing amount from an internet search – stuff that’s freely available if you know where to look. People give away lots of information on social media, which often enables us to determine whether they’re working, how many holidays they’ve had and what vehicle they’re driving – all straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
Appearances can be deceptive
You can’t take everything on face value, though. That Range Rover someone’s tagged ‘my new car’ or the executive house with wrought-iron gates that features prominently in the family photos may actually be on loan, rented or borrowed.
You may have heard recently that US rapper 50 Cent has filed for bankruptcy following a high-profile court case in which he was told to pony up $5m in damages for posting someone else’s sex tape online, without their consent. What’s difficult to understand from an outsider’s point of view isn’t just how someone can fritter away hundreds of millions of dollars of earnings in a handful of years (hey, it happens), but how you can appear to be so rich – massive mansions, prestige cars, bling to the power of bling – and yet apparently not have two ha’pennies to rub together.
Which is why we always look at all the information we have before we prepare our reports. It always pays to be thorough!
For more information of our Pre-Sue reports please click here.