Photo courtesy of Cuito Cuanavale, Flickr
The recent surge of undocumented children entering the United States has brought up several issues, one of which is human trafficking. With so many minors coming in unaccompanied, many are worried that the children will become victims of this growing problem. Although slavery seems to be a thing of the past, the number of trafficked humans is much larger than it was centuries ago and continues to rapidly increase worldwide. Part of the problem is lack of awareness and the disbelief that slavery could occur, especially in the Western world. “No country is immune,” warns the United Nations, “whether as a source, a destination or a transit point for victims of human trafficking.”
Although the exact number of victims is unknown, researchers estimate the amount of trafficked people to be between 12.3-25 million worldwide. Some are forced into unpaid labor, working in dangerous conditions for little to no pay. Others become victims of sexual exploitation, forced to become prostitutes and earn money for a pimp. Unsurprisingly, the biggest motive for trafficking humans is money. According to experts, the total market value of human trafficking is $32 billion, with nearly a third of that amount coming from the actual sale of victims (United Nations).
Trafficking in the United States
Despite the official abolishing of slavery in 1865, thousands of people are still trafficked within the United State’s borders. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, nearly 300,000 children become victims of sexual exploitation alone. Many of them are runaways or were abducted from their homes. One in three teens are lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home (National Runaway Hotline). And once a child or teenager is trafficked, especially across country or state borders, it can become much more difficult to find them .
Even though the outlook seems grim, many non-profit organizations and government agencies have begun to battle this epidemic. Recently, the FBI rescued nearly 170 child victims of sex trafficking and arrested 281 pimps (CBS News). Many of these children were never even reported missing, and could very well still be on the streets if not for the FBI’s crackdown. The Bureau’s Innocence Lost program has identified and recovered almost 3,600 children who were victims of sexual exploitation since its start in 2003.
Hiring a Private Investigator
Despite the efforts of the FBI and other agencies, around 2,300 people still go missing in the United States each day (Crime Library). Because the amount of missing persons cases is so high, many families choose to look for outside help. A private investigator will work with the family and friends of a missing person and help generate leads for law enforcement. Private eyes have the time and resources to focus on a specific case, and those that have experience finding missing children know what signs to look for. “What is the PI going to do that the police won’t? He is going to keep on searching,” says Jerrie Dean of Missing Persons of America. “He is getting paid to find the person, not the reason they left.”
According to Dean, hiring a private investigator can help even if the person isn’t found right away. “He brings that information back to the family, the family tells the media, the media reports it and then the police are renewed and following a new lead to [the victim],” says Dean. Part of the problem with missing persons cases is publicity. Too often, the media only broadcasts photos of missing people that will gain the most viewers, and eventually the attention peters out. Keeping a case alive can be the driving force in finding a missing person.
Photo Courtesy of Angela N., Flickr
For several decades, animal rights organizations have provided a voice to the animals that couldn’t speak up for themselves. The fight against animal cruelty is ongoing, and despite new regulations, many animals are still kept in abusive conditions worldwide. One of the best ways to catch the offenders and put an end to the cruelty is by gathering video evidence of inhumane situations. Many of these animal rights organizations have begun hiring private investigators to do surveillance on locations that have been rumored to be abusive.
A Voice for those Who Have None
In 2009, TIME ran an article about a private eye who went undercover at a hog farm. The investigator, who went by the name “Pete”, gave up his dream of becoming a cop and left behind his family and friends to pursue a career as an animal rights investigator. His account of the farm and the ensuing court case were featured in an HBO documentary called Death on a Factory Farm. Thanks to his video evidence, Pete has been able to uncover horrible conditions at farms and factories of all kinds throughout the country. According to him, the worst was chicken farms, where barely living hens were tossed into the trash after having their necks broken.
Farms aren’t the only places being targeted by investigators and organizations alike. The Ringling Bros. Circus and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been in an ongoing battle over claims of animal abuse. PETA has launched its own investigation into the circus, documenting video footage of circus staff beating elephants and gathering witness accounts from past circus employees. Aquariums and zoos have also been in the news after documentaries like Blackfish brought abuse at SeaWorld to the public’s eye. Zoos, kennels, and even private homes are also hot spots that may require an investigation.
Doing it the Right Way
Often, the people who look into these claims and infiltrate businesses aren’t investigators at all. And when someone who’s inexperienced in the field of investigation goes undercover, there’s the potential for serious consequences. Consider the story of Taylor Radig, an animal right’s activist who went undercover at a cattle company in Denver, Colorado. Radig was a contractor for Compassion Over Killing, an organization dedicated to uncovering and preventing animal cruelty. Her investigation was centered around gathering video evidence at the cattle farm. During her time there, Radig witnessed workers pushing and shoving day old calves, a clear sign of animal abuse. Once she presented authorities with her proof, those workers were charged with cruelty to animals. However, Radig soon found herself charged with the Class 1 misdemeanor as well, because she had neglected to report the abuse as soon as she had seen it.
Taylor Radig isn’t the only person to be charged with the very abuse she was trying to prevent, and she certainly won’t be the last. Some states have laws that require cruelty to be reported immediately, and those who view it and fail to tell authorities in time are just as guilty as the offenders. That’s why it’s important to hire someone who is experienced in the field. Even Pete, the private eye who investigated the hog farm, was unlicensed at the time of the article. He and others like him run the risk of criminal charges and lawsuits if they get caught, and the evidence might not hold up in court as well if it was obtained illegally.
For these reasons, several animal rights groups have decided that simply having an organization member go undercover isn’t enough. These groups are dealing with big companies, and investigations require careful planning that are performed according to the law. Hiring a licensed, experienced investigator who is familiar with the law can ensure that this video evidence is collected in a safe matter. After all, a court battle involving an amateur investigator takes away time and attention from the true victims here: the animals.
Photo courtesy of DES Daughter, Flickr
Considering a lawsuit? Waiting to collect a judgment? If so, it may be time to hire a licensed private investigator to conduct a corporate asset investigation. Corporations are viewed legally as a separate legal entity from their shareholders, and are considered as legal persons in the eyes of the law. Corporate litigation is also an expensive and lengthy process. Due to these circumstances, asset searches involving corporations require a specific type of investigation that only a licensed private investigator can provide.
Reasons for a Corporate Asset Search
Most investigations of a corporation’s assets occur in two stages: pre-trial and post-trial. A pre-trial search of assets can help clients determine if a lawsuit is worth pursuing. The cost of corporate litigation adds up, and if the opposing company won’t be able to pay a judgment, the lawsuit will end up costing much more than it is worth. Asset searches can also prevent a lawsuit from happening in the first place. Information on things like hidden bank accounts and past lawsuits has proven to be a valuable tool for negotiations. For corporate litigation totaling over 500k, an asset search is essential.
Conducting an asset investigation post-trial will uncover assets that a debtor is trying to conceal. People and companies who are forced to give up assets will often go through great lengths to hide them. Businesses have been known to move funds offshore and set up overseas bank accounts in an effort to hide their money, and some may misrepresent the amount and value of their assets. Debtors will also have assets that are protected under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, making it much harder to obtain a judgment. It can take up to ten years for a creditor to receive their judgment in full, and that’s not accounting for legal extensions. The creditor has a legal right to receive their judgment, but is often left to retrieve that money without the aid of the court.
Hiring a Private Investigator
Most corporate attorneys do not have the time or means to conduct a thorough pre-trial investigation of a company’s assets. In post-trial investigations, creditor rights attorneys will work together with private investigators to ensure that their client’s judgment is paid. They need information quickly and legally, which is something that a licensed corporate private investigator can provide. Intelligence on liquid assets can be hard to come by legally without the aid of a professional, and can take a long time to prove successful. A private eye will work together with an attorney to thoroughly investigate the following:
- Bank accounts
- UCC Filings
- Federal and state tax liens
- Real estate and mortgage information
- Past judgments and lawsuits
- Affiliated companies
- Offshore assets
There are several ways in which a debtor will attempt to conceal assets, making an asset search necessary. Public records and internet searches will only turn up so much, and must be done so by legal means. Hiring an investigator who is experienced in corporate litigation will increase the likelihood that a creditor will receive their judgment in a timely manner.
Choosing the Right Investigator
Hiring a licensed private investigator is an essential part of a corporate asset search. With no less than 20 years of experience, Thomas Lauth and his team of investigators at Lauth Investigations International will work attorneys to ensure that the client’s needs are met. With three main locations in Indianapolis, IN, Denver, CO, and Miami, FL, our investigators are dedicated to providing national and global corporations with complex investigations.
In 2009, Adriano Sotomayor was on the hunt for money and an unsuspecting individual. Sotomayor was a con artist, and found his mark in the nuns of the Sisters of the Rosary of Fatima convent in New Jersey. He called one of the nuns and told her that he was a New Jersey priest and that a member of his parish had just named her the beneficiary of $2.1 million. All she had to do was wire a payment of cash over to a New Jersey business called Flex Account to cover the charges of legal proceedings and taxes.
The nun didn’t have the money up-front, so Sotomayor told her to bring in her friends and family to lend her the money she needed before she received her lucrative payment from the will. Unsuspecting, she convinced many who were close to her to give her the money she needed. As you could imagine, none of these people got their money back, and Sotomayor never gave the nun the money he promised.
This is just one of many possible con artist scams that are pulled on a regular basis in America, and just one of many scams that could have been avoided with the help of a professional background search from a private investigator. Background searches can help in situations like these as well as to find out personal and business histories of subjects.
Strangers getting involved with your relatives
As in the case of Sotomayor and the unnamed nun, strangers who enter the lives of the vulnerable often do not have their best interest at heart. If you know someone new has entered the life of a relative of yours such as your mother or father, investigating their history can ensure the truth of their claims and interests.
Many con artists will attempt to get close to elderly individuals with malicious interests such as defrauding them or getting them to place them in their wills. Investigators such as Lauth Investigations Inc. can conduct background searches that can find out if the subject is using an alias, has a criminal record or has defrauded others in recent history.
Background investigations can also be extremely useful when searching into the history of potential business partners. Before engaging in a merger or business transaction, a thorough and professional background search can look into the financial history of potential partners to ensure that they are worth trusting.
Professional investigations can dig up if other companies have had trouble with civil or criminal lawsuits in the past or are concealing damning information such as bankruptcies.
Pre-Marital background searches
Sometimes even those who we trust the most are worth investigating as well. Before entering an agreement as major as a marriage, a background search can be extremely useful. Professional investigators can find out if the bride or groom to be is concealing any serious information that a spouse would want to know.
This involves criminal records, past relationships that have been concealed and financial information. Using a background search from a professional investigation firm may be the only way to make sure a potential spouse is completely truthful and can ensure that key information is revealed before the wedding and not after the fact.
As companies continue to compete in a highly competitive global market, many choose to expand their businesses overseas in order to increase production and cut costs. These opportunities are major commitments and can end poorly if the right type of information isn’t collected. Before any contract is signed, companies need to know everything they can about a potential business opportunity. Factors such as a corporation’s past performance, suppliers, finances, and clients can all have a hand in the outcome of a business transaction. Lauth Investigations specializes in conducting corporate due diligence investigations that will detect these liabilities and ensure a beneficial investment for your company.
When Should a Company Conduct a Due Diligence Investigation?
A company should begin collecting data after a possible transaction with another institution has been established. However, an investigation should occur prior to the signing of binding contracts. The types of deals that require a due diligence investigation may include:
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- Oversea Expansions
- Business Partnerships
- Large Investment Opportunities
Corporate investigations are especially valuable to industrial and manufacturing corporations who are looking to expand their operations internationally. A 2013 CFO Research Survey found that 83% of companies consider overseas expansion a top priority. By conducting an inspection of potential clients and partners, these companies can prevent future lawsuits and unexpected costs. During negotiations, a thorough business investigation can also lower the price by disproving unfounded claims made by a corporation.
What Does a Due Diligence Investigation Look For?
Corporate intelligence plays a heavy role in due diligence investigations. It not only involves the gathering of information about a corporation, but the analysis of that data as well. Lauth Investigations will uncover intelligence about:
- Business Reputations
- Financial History
- Litigation and Disputes
- Past Investments
- Bank Accounts
- Public Records
- Hidden Assets
- Past and Current Employees
A variety of techniques are employed when detecting the liabilities that may exist within a corporation. These techniques may involve surveillance, financial investigations, interviews, and background checks. Lauth Investigations is dedicated to acquiring every piece of information necessary for conducting a thorough background check on a business.
Why Choose Lauth Investigations?
Lauth Investigations has private investigators established in three prime locations: Indianapolis, IN, Denver, CO, and Tampa, FL. According to a report done by the National Association of Manufacturers, these states have a total of 32,361 manufacturing establishments. Out of these three states, Indiana came in first, with its manufacturing accounting for 98.5% of its exports. Many of the companies with establishments in these states, like Bausch & Lomb or Adidas Group, rely on international ties. Others are considering the possibility of mergers and acquisitions with corporations worldwide.
Recognizing the need for a due diligence investigation is the first step in carrying out a successful business transaction. The second step is choosing an investigator that can detect and analyze the risks that others may overlook. With 20 years of experience, Lauth Investigations can work with your company to determine what services and investigations will best suit your needs.