Collectors Hire Private Investigators to Assist in Asset Recovery

Collectors Hire Private Investigators to Assist in Asset Recovery

When someone owes you money, no one ever said they had to make it easy to collect. Debtors have been developing new ways to dodge their debts for as long as anyone can remember. In turn, collectors across all industries have had to develop methods of collection to prevent people from hiding an asset. One of a collector’s greatest assets in this modern age is an independent private investigator. While collectors deal with the paperwork, private investigators do the legwork, using proven methodology to unearth the hidden assets of debtors in arears.

Private investigators work with some of the same tools and the same methodology as law enforcement when looking for debtor assets. As part of their licensure, private investigators have access to verified databases that allow them to develop comprehensive, cross-referenced background profiles on a Subject in any investigation. Private investigators have diverse experience in analyzing a person’s criminal, financial, address, and litigation history in order to build a contextualized picture of a debtor’s circumstances. Private investigators can unearth unseen assets like property, financial accounts, vehicles, and other valuable assets that have been previously concealed. Human sources are less common in asset searches, but private investigators also have the training to build rapport and garner testimony from relevant human sources in the case.  Private investigators are also highly skilled in obtaining and reviewing litigation records to document a debtor’s history of litigation in a court of law. Pervasive lawsuits, especially involving large judgements, can be a red flag in an asset search investigation.

Social media has become a more valuable resource than ever in many types of investigations. The amount of information people unwittingly give away on social media is staggering. Private investigators can get information about the sale of personal belongings, photos of assets like property and vehicles, and can document the type of lifestyle a debtor is currently enjoying—like lavish vacations or expensive home renovations. Private investigators carefully document their findings to compile into a thorough report for the client as another building block in their case against the debtor in arears.

If you’re a collecting party trying to reap your due, don’t hesitate to reach out to private investigator for a quote on their asset search services. Through open-source intelligence and transparent investigation methods, private investigators can get to the bottom of a debtors hidden assets.

Former Wells Fargo executive slapped with $17.5 billion in fines

Former Wells Fargo executive slapped with $17.5 billion in fines

John Stumpf has been slapped with the largest fine ever levied against a single individual in litigative history.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a division of the Treasury Department in the United States, has finally stuck a blow against one of the most reckless financial institutions in the nation, Wells Fargo. This federal department has linked a former chief executive of Wells Fargo with compulsion on the part of leadership to encourage Wells Fargo employees to set up fraudulent accounts that would hold extracted fees from customers.

John Stumpf, the former executive in question, has been slapped with a monumental fine totaling approximately $17.5 million. The extent of the misconduct was so severe, that the OCC also banned Stumpf from the banking industry for the rest of his life. He was not alone—a former head of banking at Wells Fargo, Carrie Tolstedt is also facing a fine of $25 million.

The Office of the Comptroller of Currency has also issued a notice which argues that Wells Fargo has engaged in toxic business practices over the last ten years, compelling employees to exhibit “serious misconduct” in order to meet “intentionally unreasonable sales goals.” The notice went on to say that the corporation operated within an environment of malignant leadership, indicated by “…an atmosphere that perpetuated improper illegal conduct.”

Wells Fargo’s head of corporate investigations testified before the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, informing them that there was hypervigilance on part of leadership with regards to sales quotas, but lethargic oversight with regards to illegal sales practices. It was apparent to the corporate investigator that leadership was indifferent to how employees met sales quotas, as long as those quotas were consistently met. Lower-level employees were made accomplices—single cogs in a large clockwork corporate fraud.

As the saying goes, “the fish stinks from the head,” and the litigative implications of these proceedings have indicated Wells Fargo reeks of poor corporate culture. Regardless of whether or not it is healthy, corporate culture moves in a cycle, with cause-and-effect factors that can often be traced back to leadership. Not only should leadership be an example for the entire corporation, but their interpersonal conduct within the workplace directly effects their employees’ engagement and productivity. Executives who impose unreasonable or unattainable goals on their employees are setting them up for failure, absolving themselves from responsibility when goals are not met. This leads to a toxic, high-pressure work environment where employees don’t just feel unsupported, but also devalued in the eyes of their employer. Employee engagement goes down, and consequently, so does productivity. This frustrates leadership, which then reacts by tightening their grip, beginning the cycle anew. If your corporation experiences persistent problems with leadership misconduct, it’s definitely time for a corporate culture audit. Corporate culture audits are like checkups for your business. Independent investigators come into your business and evaluate all operations—communication, record-keeping, hiring processes, and employee engagement. They identify the cause of these malignant symptoms and provide the corporation with expert recommendations that will ultimately propel their organization forward. If your corporation needs a corporate culture audit, call Lauth Investigations International today at 317-951-1100 to get a free quote, or contact us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com

National Law Relations Board reverses controversial position on internal investigations

National Law Relations Board reverses controversial position on internal investigations

The National Law Relations Board reverses controversial position on internal investigations.

Employers across the country have operated in a sea of gray area when it comes to confidentiality among employees regarding internal investigations. The question remained whether or not employers were able to require employees to keep internal investigations internal while they were in full swing. Prior to the new year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) finally answered that question.

Previously, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) had taken a position that employers could not require employees to keep ongoing internal investigations confidential because it generally violated labor law. Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act guarantees employees “the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing.” Universal requirement of confidentiality could potentially interfere with that law. Confidentiality in internal investigations was instead dealt with on a case-by-case basis, with no precedent for blanket confidentiality. This topic has been in review by the NLRB since May of 2019, but it was only recently that the board announced that they had reversed their position.

By their very nature, internal investigations are already a big headache for many employers. Further compounding these frustrations is the ideation that no internal investigation can generate meaningful results unless the integrity of the internal investigation is maintained by all employees of the corporation or organization. This new standard of approval by the National Labor Relations Board is a categorical win for employers.  The win comes down to one word—duration. In articulating their decision, the majority wrote,

“There are obvious mutual interests to be served by encouraging and allowing employees to report wrongdoing without fear of reprisal from the subject of the investigation. Among other considerations, such reporting promotes the goals of the antidiscrimination statutes by helping employers eradicate workplace discrimination and deal with it promptly and effectively when it occurs.”

This articulation is indirectly evocative of the cycle of corporate culture, a process by which cause and effect on the parts of both leadership and employees in pursuit of improved operations leads to a healthy corporate culture for the entire workforce.

While there are concerns that the future of this reversal may affect an employee’s ability to organize, the projection of this reversal is very good news for internal investigations. In any investigation, the control of information is critical to finding solutions to the corporate crisis, allowing investigators to use tried-and-true methodology to get to the root of the problem. With the NLRB finally taking a position that allows employers to require confidentiality, the integrity of those internal investigations can now be maintained from the onset, leading to clearer solutions for the pervasive issues that malign corporations and organizations.

McDonalds CEO Seeks to Change Corporate Culture

McDonalds CEO Seeks to Change Corporate Culture

Corporations and institutions with relative high visibility have a lot to lose when internal misconduct is exposed. If you are an institution, such as a school, prison, or government body, internal misconduct can strongly shake the public’s confidence in how that misconduct will impact the groups and communities being served. Embarrassing, pervasive issues, such as a business party culture, can really drive down faith in your brand. If you’re a large corporate chain, such as Walmart, or McDonald’s, your corporate culture is subject to criticism from current/past employees, with heavy emphasis on how that corporate culture effects both productivity and the workforce.

Just one week after ringing in the new year, McDonald’s current CEO, Chris Kempczinski, has announced that he plans to bring an end to the business party culture embroiled in their corporate atmosphere. According to The Wall Street Journal, Kempczinski, “…is seeking to restore a more professional culture at McDonald’s after what some current and former employees described as an environment influenced by his predecessor’s late-night socializing with some executives and staffers at bars and flirtations with female employees…” This business party culture was pervasive. His predecessor, Steve Eastbrook, was terminated in November of 2019 after he confessed to having a relationship with an employee. What is particularly problematic about these circumstances is that healthy corporate culture begins with leadership. When leadership behaves ethically within the organization, employees are more likely to follow that example. When executives, managers, and supervisors are not held accountable for bad behavior, it sends a message to the rest of the organization that poisons the well of corporate culture.

But inappropriate personal conduct is not the only challenge currently facing McDonald’s culture. Strains imposed by the franchises’ renovation program has franchisees challenging their relationship with the corporation. In addition, unions are still reeling from a decision handed down by a national union-organizing supervision board, which states that the corporation will no longer be liable for labor violations committed by its franchisees. Labor advocates who made their concerns apparent to the board were ignored, and the decision came down with a 2-1 vote. In the background, employees continue their cause of “Fight For 15,” in reference to their desire to have McDonald’s starting wage raised to $15 per hour.

Kempczinski’s promise to diffuse a business party culture within the corporation is a promising start—however, in order to make meaningful changes to the corporation, there needs to be a top-to-bottom evaluation of internal processes, and of the behavior exhibited by leadership—both in the public view and behind closed doors. That is why so many institutions and corporations are subjecting their internal operations to a corporate culture audit to ensure that they won’t be caught unawares about the debilitating, pervasive issues within their organization. Regardless of quality, corporate culture moves in a cycle. The actions of leadership filter down through the workforce, influencing productivity and engagement from employees. Employees either contribute positively or negatively to the corporation as a result of that leadership, and that leads directly back to leadership in a supervisory capacity. For the sake of a long-beloved American corporation, let’s hope that Kempczinski follows through on his promise for change.

Fishbowl Investigations: Conducting Visible Internal Investigations

Fishbowl Investigations: Conducting Visible Internal Investigations

Corporations that have seen a decline in their corporate culture are turning to internal investigation and risk assessment firms for help in 2020. The discourse around corporate culture has evolved significantly over the last few years, with employees voicing their desire for work-life balance and how corporate culture directly impacts their decision to stay with a company. Leadership is better-educating themselves on how their actions feed into the cycle of corporate culture, and how they can improve employee retention by making meaningful changes that grease the wheels of success in their business or organization. However, many corporations have their anxieties about conducting internal investigations in a fishbowl—where employees are able to see the methodology in motion—and how this will impact their workforce and their business.

Corporations can find themselves open to scrutiny from both their employees and their customer-base when they announce an impending internal investigation. Some corporations, for a myriad of reasons, opt to have internal investigations under a cloak of classification in order to protect the integrity of the investigation—however, in the interest of transparency, many corporations opt for a visible investigation, warning employees, shareholders, customers, or all of the above, of an impending internal investigation. This means that the investigating bodies will be under a microscope of scrutiny within the corporation, as their methodology, decorum, and their practices will a source of debate around the proverbial watercooler.

Regardless of who is contracted to conduct the internal investigation, or under what level of declassification, if there is visibility of an investigation, there is a delicate balance of transparency and professionalism needed in pursuit of the truth. One of the most difficult tasks an internal investigator has at the inception of the investigation is establishing a rapport with relevant parties, such as leadership and the workforce in order to garner frankness from persons who will be crucial to the fact-finding process.

Investigators must establish credibility with the client and relevant subjects in the case. This means ensuring those individuals are aware that the investigator shares their values and is only interested in identifying problems to improve the business—not damage it—indicating a high level of accountability that will have a ripple effect throughout the corporation or organization.

In tandem with establishing credibility, investigators must be straightforward about their objectives, outlining what the client hopes to achieve and their proposed methods of reaching that goal. Investigators must never make promises they cannot keep by making declarations before they know the facts. Corporate investigators must always pursue a resolution to a business’s problem that does not impair their long-term goals—by the same token, it is imperative that the investigator informs the client that there might be some negative consequences as the result of their findings, such as turnover, further inquiries, or bad publicity.

Objectivity is key in any internal investigation. It’s one of the reasons some companies elect to have a private investigator or risk assessment firm conduct their investigation, as opposed to an in-house investigator or member of house counsel. No employee with a stake in the outcome of the investigation, even indirectly, may be 100% objective in identifying pervasive issues in an organization. In addition to that objectivity, an independent investigator—unknown to the corporation or organization—investigators can move through a workplace undetected. This will take the edge off of the “fishbowl” factor that is common with internal corporate investigations. Private investigators can adopt a persona and conduct their investigations without the eyes of concerned coworkers; interviewing employees, collecting evidence, evaluating the location, and reviewing internal communications can all be conducted in plain sight.

Internal corporate investigations with a “fishbowl” factor can be an inherent challenge for corporations. Above all, it’s important to remember that employees are your greatest asset, as they feed into a cycle of corporate culture that can successfully stimulate your business or organization. An appropriate level of trust and care must always be taken when subjecting your workforce to an internal investigation. When employees feel valued, they will become empowered and engaged to give their best to the benefit of your organization.